The Most Terrifying Planets In Video Games

Space. It’s a place full of endless possibilities, but with that comes endless opportunities for terror. Games such as Starfield and Dead Space have you explore the final frontier, but the sci-fi and horror genres aren’t the only place you can find strange and horrifying new planets. There are new and terrifying worlds in all sorts of genres.

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We’ve compiled a list of some of the scariest planets we’ve found in video games. Some of these have tons of murderous wildlife for you to run from. Others are much lonelier, but make up for it with lots of creepy atmosphere and visuals.

10 Earth – Pikmin Series

What Are Pikmin Feature Olimar, Pikmin, Bulborb

Pikmin is a cute game, to be sure, but don’t overlook its unspoken horror. You spend the entire game controlling a guy who’s no bigger than a pill bottle, guiding Pikmin towards the next objective and hoping you don’t lose too many along the way. At that size, just about everything is terrifying. There’s no shortage of things that could kill you or your Pikmin.

That’s not all. Pikmin 2’s conspicuous product placement might be gauche, but it gives us an important piece of knowledge: this planet was Earth all along. Which just begs the question: what happened?

9 Eden-6 – Borderlands

Jabbas attack on Eden-6

Eden-6 doesn’t seem like it would be too scary on first glance. It’s owned by the Jakobs arms company, which uses it as one of its main sources of timber. Sure, they’re a sketchy corporation, but what else is there to expect?

The answer is ‘a lot.’ What this description doesn’t tell you is that Eden-6 is mostly covered with nightmarish swamps that would put most of Florida to shame. You’re also chased around by dinosaurs, which is just as cool as it is terrifying. Overall, this is one place we’d never recommend you visit if it actually existed.

8 Mars – Yume Nikki

Madotsuki from Yume Nikki wanders alone through a desolate, pixelated Martian landscape

Yume Nikki is a surrealist nightmare. It’s not scary in the sense that it gets your heart pumping, but you’re left with a sense of unease long after you walk away from the computer. One of the most disturbing areas of the game is a monochromatic spaceship, where you can find a man playing the piano.

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Talk to him and the ship crash-lands onto Mars. It’s a desolate, melancholy planet where you’re left with nothing but your thoughts. The atmosphere is oppressive and foreboding. You’re certain some untold horror lurks ahead, and wander forever in suspense.

7 The Pirate Homeworld – Metroid Prime 3: Corruption

panoramic view of the space pirate homeworld from Metroid Prime 3, with a strange alien spacecraft in the foreground.

The space pirates have been a recurring villain in the Metroid games since the series’ inception, and they’re a pretty diverse bunch. Some of them are weird insect-like humanoids, some are dragons, and some are giant brains. The homeworld presented in Metroid Prime 3 is allegedly only one of their many planets, but it’s hard to conceive of just what could live there.

That’s because the entire planet is a desolate hellscape. Acid rain constantly falls from the sky, and space pirates continue to live and work here despite the planet being a dying husk.

6 The Ghost Ship Cave Planet – Super Mario Galaxy

The underground ghost ship from Super Mario Galaxy, floating in space

Super Mario Galaxy plays it fast and loose as to what qualifies as a ‘planet.’ A floating ghost ship in the middle of space? Why not? This place is surprisingly scary for a Mario game, with ominous music playing throughout the level. The underwater sequences are also foreboding, always growing darker and more perilous with a very real threat of drowing.

To top it all off, there’s a massive ghost ship full of Boos taking up much of the planet. The whole place has an atmosphere that would seem more at home in Luigi’s Mansion than in a mainline Mario game.

5 Ripple Star – Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards

Ribbon and Kirby in Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards

Kirby 64 is a cosmic horror story. Kirby himself holds untold cosmic power, and in this game he goes up against a universe-corrupting eldritch god known as Dark Matter. Ripple Star is the penultimate level of the game. With almost everyone there infected with Dark Matter’s influence, the whole planet is doomed without Kirby.

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The visuals are saccharine, but the music and storytelling keep the mood tense. If you get the normal ending, you fight Miracle Matter, a being that resembles a biblical angel more than a Kirby character. And unless you get the true ending, everyone is still mind-controlled.

4 4546B – Subnautica

Subnautica - Ocean Monster

In the real world, we still only know a small fraction of what horrors exist in the ocean. Fear of the unknown is what drives most of Subnautica, where you explore the oceans of a distant, alien planet. Thalassophobes might not care for this game, but the rest of us have an adventure through the perilous deep.

Subnautica’s 4546B is home to all sorts of eldritch beings. Some of them resemble more familiar deep-sea creatures, but others defy the furthest reaches of the imagination. They all serve to make the game all the more wondrous and terrifying (but mostly terrifying.)

3 Dark Bramble – Outer Wilds

The corpse of an alien jellyfish from Outer Wilds

We’re continuing our crusade to give everyone thalassophobia with Dark Bramble from Outer Wilds. The waters of this planet feature the only wildlife in the game that actively tries to kill you, in the form of gargantuan, monstrous anglerfish. They’re several times bigger than the main character and look every bit as menacing as their much tinier real-life counterparts.

The rest of the planet isn’t much better. Most of it sits in a state of ruin, being overrun by plant life. The atmosphere is ominous and pretty much never releases that tension, making Dark Bramble unfathomably creepy.

2 Tau Volantis – Dead Space 3

Dead Space 3 alien city/alien machine on tau volantis

Ruined, abandoned planets are commonplace on this list, but Tau Volantis in Dead Space 3 stands out in more ways than one. Sure, it’s filled with barren, frozen ruins that are now a husk of their former glory. But the planet is also home to mutated corpses that now roam everywhere. It’s a bit reminiscent of the planet Atropus from Dungeons & Dragons lore.

Despite its current state as a tomb planet, Tau Volantis also contains some important clues to the game’s lore. No spoilers, but what you end up finding out makes the fate of this planet all the more tragic and terrifying.

1 AT-5 – Iron Lung

A skeleton at the bottom of the ocean of blood in Iron Lung

Being a condemned convict exploring the depths of an ocean of blood is not a good time. Unhappily for you, that’s pretty much the entire ecosystem of Iron Lung’s AT-5, and yes, that’s human blood you’re marinating in. It’s hard to overstate how disturbing this is, especially since the ocean of human blood is apparently capable of sustaining life.

The things that lurk within AT-5’s blood ocean will be the death of you if you’re not careful. This bloody sphere is by far one of the most nightmarish settings in gaming, planetary or otherwise.

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