Horror games are one thing. You can always expect something to pop out to try and scare the pants off you at every corner you turn. However, it's when the games that in no way market themselves as horror games manage to scare you that seem to really stay with you. These moments literally come out of nowhere and can take us completely off guard. What moments am I talking about you might ask. Well, let's start with:
1. The Statue of Nope - Grand Theft Auto 4
The Grand Theft Auto series has not been shy about hiding little easter eggs in their games that are slightly disturbing. From the man with cement shoes in Vice City to the ghost girl in Grand Theft Auto 5, Rockstar Games has always had fun putting these dark little easter eggs into their games. However one of the creepiest has to be in Grand Theft Auto 4 when you visit Liberty City's Statue of Liberty only to find the Statue of Nope.
The statue is labelled with this creepy smile that looks like a mix of Hillary Clinton and the overly attached girlfriend. Also, when you go inside the building, you can actually find a real beating heart chained up. I think one of the developers at Rockstar Games needs a hug.
2. We don't go to Ravenholm - Half-Life 2
Seriously, listen to the game. We do not go to Ravenholm. Why don't we go to Ravenholm? Because Ravenholm is a freaking terrifying wasteland of death. You thought one or two zombies were scary enough, well how about a whole city inhabited by them. Every corner is a death trap and everything in the area is trying to kill you.
Your only salvation is a mad priest that follows you around the area to grant you cover and supply you with a shotgun. However, that won't be enough to keep you safe as Ravenholm gives the player the introduction to two new terrifying enemies. One being a poisonous headcrab that can drain you of all your health and the other a super fast mutated zombie that can climb buildings after you. Once you clear this area, you'll need to take a rest.
3. A bad dream - Max Payne
I think Rockstar put these dreams sequences in Max Payne to punish the little 12 year old children who thought it would be fun to play a rated M game. Throughout the game, Max will fall into these random dream sequences that dive more into his psyche and show what he now has to live with... and it is freaking disturbing.
Not only are the dream sequences a pain in the butt to play through because of the terrible navigation and precision jumping, but it showed some very graphic and disturbing imagery that would creep out even the most seasoned gamer. It's constantly dark, there's blood on the walls, you hear a baby crying, your wife sobbing and there are trails to bottomless chasms of death.
And then Max wakes up like nothing happened and you continue on your quest for revenge. I think Rockstar Games's entire goal is scare the crap out of their fans, regardless of the fact that they don't develop horror games.
4. Every town has their little secrets - Fallout 3
Everything seemed fine, good and peaceful... until you entered the basement. From the outside, Andale seemed like a quaint little town where all the inhabitants were friendly and welcoming to their home. Even their homes seem like something out of Pleasantville, until you find out that their basements are very well locked away from the nosy. However, if you are able to lockpick yourself in, you are met with a gruesome sight.
Mutilated corpses, bags of body parts, and pools of blood everywhere. You then learn the disturbing truth that the inhabitants of Andale are cannibals that eat unsuspecting people who pass by their little town. Games like Fallout 3 are the reason I have trust issues.
5. Milla's secret - Psychonauts
Psychonauts was a fun little platforming game from Double Fine Studios that did poorly in sales but quickly gained a cult status over the years. It was delightfully quirky but there were also some deeper elements to the game. You play as a young go-getter named Raz who goes into the minds of several zany but fun characters in order to learn the ways of the Psychonaut. As the game progresses, it does sort of goes more and more the the dark side and this is shown mostly when you go into the mind of Milla.
Milla is sort of this kind and fun character because when you first enter her mind, you're greeted with colorful sights and seventies style parties. However, that is soon forgotten when you find out more about Milla's past. You soon learn that Milla was once in charge of looking after children at an orphanage. But, one day, there was a mysterious fire that consumed the entire building that killed all the children inside. This, of course, haunts Milla and that would be scary enough but Psychonauts takes the horror factor up a notch.
Upon finding a chest, you jump in and you in this cage surrounded by some fiery, hellish environment. Circling the cage are strange creatures that whisper "Save us" and "Why did you let us die". These creatures are obviously manifestations of the children that were killed in the fire but it's a real emotional punch to the gut to see just how much of Milla's past haunts her. Not such a quirky little platformer anymore, is it?
6. Some deeper meaning? - EarthBound
This is probably the most infamous horror moment on this entire list. The reason it's so popular is because the entire game of EarthBound is so cutesy and kid friendly that you wouldn't believe that the final act is like something from the mind of HP Lovecraft. The final act has Ness and the gang go back in time to destroy the main antagonist Giygas in the more "vulnerable" form.
However, the gang can't go back in their own bodies so they have to put their souls into robots. When you arrive in the past, everything immediately has a creepy, darker tone. The visuals, the music and the enemies. When you reach the final boss of Giygas, he becomes enraged with so much power that you literally cannot comprehend how powerful he really is.
However, that's not the most disturbing thing about this creature. What really makes him creepy is that the whole level and boss battle could be interpreted as a sign of abortion. All the signs are there seeings how you travel to the past where Giygas is most vulnerable, the level looks like a birth canal, and the game is called Mother 2 in Japan. Isn't that a lovely message for a children's game.
7. Ghostbusting - No More Heroes 2
The No More Heroes franchise has always offered an array of fascinatingly strange assassins throughout two games. However, none have been quite as memorable or as creepy as Matt Helms from No More Heroes 2. You find this disturbing assassin in a burned down abandoned house who turns out to be a plus-sized looking man who wields a flamethrower and a baby mask to hide his deformed face. What follows is pretty standard No More Heroes boss battle which ends with Travis shoving his lightsabre into Matt's head and making it explode.
Then after the boss battle, the real horror starts. Travis finds what looks like a dirty little child who is just appears after the 'death' of Matt Helms. Travis wonders what he is doing here and the child just whispers five words, "I'm going to kill you". Just before he can split Travis's head open with an axe, Sylvia saves him with a nicely timed bullet.
Turns out, Matt Helms made a pact with the devil as he burned alive in a house fire, swearing to kill his mother and father in exchange for immortality. It seemed to have worked as Matt immediately gets back up from the gunshot and runs off laughing. Who isn't terrified by murderous ghost children?
8. Ravenous flying babies - Drakengard
You thought regular babies or ghost children were scary enough? Well, how about giant flying babies that eat human flesh? So apparently, there are these things called "The Watchers" or more commonly known as "The Grotesqueries" who descend from the heavens. They were created by the gods as servants as a tool to destroy all of humanity. Pretty common for a RPG game right? Well here's what they look like:
Yep, they look and sound just like normal babies. What's even more terrifying is that the main group of characters are so distraught and terrified by this sight that one of them just loses her mind and offers herself up as the great feast. To which the very hungry babies graciously accept and commence to rip her apart while laughing and cooing like babies do. The other party members just look in horror as this is going down.
You cannot deny when you saw this as a child or teenager playing Drakengard for the first time, you felt super uneasy and a little creeped out. Once you look upon the Watchers, you will never be able to get them out of your mind.