Unlike other entertainment mediums, the world of video games brings an additional dimension to the experience. Perhaps no genre benefits from the interactive element more than horror. While movies, T.V., and books are exclusively detached from you, video games offer a first-hand venture into the nightmare.
There have been a plethora of excellent horror video games throughout the decades, and each one of them has its own standout moment, which leaves you drenched in dread and trepidation. Yet there are a select few sequences from the genre that stand out in the annals of horror video game history.
10 Zombie Dog Jumps Through Window – Resident Evil
The original Resident Evil is known for many things: zombies, cheesy acting, and being the birth of one of the most recognizable IPs in video game history. While the game has numerous memorable moments, most have lost their horror luster.
One moment that has aged like fear-flavored wine is the zombie dog jump scare. After escaping to a quiet hallway, a zombified canine breaks through the window and attacks you. This jump scare is both masterfully executed and demonstrates that nowhere in the Spencer Mansion is safe.
9 The Game Crashes – Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem
There’s been plenty of games that employ meta elements. From Scarecrow’s fear-inducing depravity in Batman Arkham Asylum to the ever-iconic Psycho Mantis from Metal Gear Solid, there are some superb examples of when developers nailed breaking the fourth wall.
The most terrifying implementation of meta sequences comes from Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem in the form of its cleverly incorporated sanity meter. In a brilliantly cruel trick, the game will fake a crash and even pretend to delete all your saved files should the meter plunge drastically.
8 The Ladder – F.E.A.R.
Developer Monolith Productions’ action-horror F.E.A.R. series is often forgotten in the realm of horror video games when compared to Dead Space and Resident Evil. While the F.E.A.R. entries feature more action than your standard horror title, there are plenty of shocks and scares.
The most notable one comes from the first entry, 2005’s F.E.A.R. While playing as protagonist Point Man, you climb a ladder only to be confronted with the ghostly child Alma morbidly lingering at the top, exuding terror and her immense psychic power.
7 Avoiding The Kaernk – Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Sometimes, it’s what you don’t see that’s truly terrifying. As memorable as jump scares and extreme acts of violence can be in horror, the most effective fear often comes from being unable to see the menace. Enter Amnesia: The Dark Descent.
The Kaernk is one of the horrific creatures you’ll encounter in Amnesia: The Dark Descent. Invisible to the naked eye, the only way to avoid the Kaernk is to keep an eye on the ripples in the water and avoid them like the plague.
6 First Necromorph Attack – Dead Space
The brainchild of Glen Schofield and developer Visceral Games, Dead Space is rightfully regarded as one of the best horror and science fiction video game series ever created. As expected, the games feature more than one frightening sequence.
The series boasts plenty of hair-raising grisly moments, yet it’s the introduction to the trademark necromorphs in the original Dead Space that’s forever engrained in the minds of gamers. This sequence is nothing short of adrenaline-pumping terror, a mad dash of chaotic horrifying brutality that’ll leave you petrified.
5 Visiting The Dentist – BioShock
In BioShock, the atmosphere takes center stage. Considered one of gaming’s chef-d’oeuvre, BioShock is a masterful mixture of various genres and mechanics. While you might have access to an arsenal of weapons and abilities, Rapture remains a grim city.
One of BioShock’s most terrifying moments can be found in Dandy Dental. Should you explore this optional area, the room will eventually fill with fog. Once the smoke clears, you’ll hear a subtle pitter-patter from behind, followed by a startling jump scare from the splicer dentist.
4 Encountering The Xenomorph – Alien: Isolation
1979’s Alien by director Ridley Scott is remembered as one of the greatest horror films ever produced. Developer Creative Assembly’s Alien: Isolation flawlessly captures the tone and terror from the first film, mainly thanks to the central xenomorph’s unparalleled artificial intelligence.
While each player will have a separate experience based on how often the xenomorph catches you, everyone will have the same first encounter. When the imposing endoparasitic extra-terrestrial crawls from the vent and lands before you, it marks the beginning of the frightening hunt.
3 Pyramid Head’s Arrival – Silent Hill 2
Regarding iconic horror villains, movies usually dominate the conversation. Even though audiences tend to think of Freddy Krueger or Jason Voorhees when discussing the genre’s most iconic characters, the gaming industry also features some unforgettable horror figures — such as Silent Hill’s hellish Pyramid Head.
While the fearsome mascot of the series has appeared in numerous Silent Hill entries, Pyramid’s Head’s initial introduction in Silent Hill 2 remains bloodcurdling. Between the eerie atmosphere and horrific act he’s committing, Pyramid’s head debut will most certainly stick with you.
2 Yuri’s Final Confession – Doki Doki Literature Club
Team Salvato’s Doki Doki Literature Club is perhaps the most subversive video game ever produced. Starting as an anime-styled high school dating sim, the narrative gradually pivots into a ghastly blend of fourth-wall-breaking and genuinely spine-chilling sequences.
Arguably, the standout among the abundance of striking moments is Yuri’s final confession. As the story becomes increasingly twisted, Yuri will ask you to hear her “confession”; whether you say yes or no, she will suddenly kill herself, followed by you being helplessly camera-locked to her lifeless corpse.
1 Meeting Lisa – P.T.
When P.T. was launched in 2014, it took the gaming world by storm. P.T. was initially supposed to lead to another entry in the Silent Hill series, but Konami tragically canceled the project. Despite all that, P.T. is still fondly remembered.
It’s hard to think of even one minute in P.T. that doesn’t have you on the edge of your seat. But regarding a moment of genuine absolute fright, Lisa’s cardinal appearance takes the crown. In a truly alarming jump scare, Lisa makes her mark.
Next: Horror Games That Were Never Fully Released