What’s the biggest scare that a game ever gave you?

9 min read
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Good horror games give you a decent fright. Great horror games make you want to put the controller down, walk outside and scream your fears away. There’s no better medium on this planet when it comes to chills, than video games. They’ve got the added benefit of putting the horror trope blunders squrely on your shoulders, so you know that you have no one else but yourself to blame when you find yourself on the wrong end of a knife.

But there’s always going to be that one game, that one moment where you were on the verge of dropping some DLC into your pants. We’ve all experienced that one scene in a game. And here’s what kept the Lazygamer crew awake, for weeks.

Darryn – ZombiU

ZombiU-Gameplay-2

I think ZombiU is an underrated example of mind-f***ery, and one of the finest survivor games ever made. Everything about that game (On Wii U at least), is geared towards an emphasis on just how much of a frail meat-puppet you really are when the zombie apocalypse hits the fan.

And that’s unnerving. I felt like I was made of tissue paper on a rainy day when I played ZombiU, as the world was horrifically brutal and a cricket bat could only take you so far. But it’s the small touches, such as having to look away from your environment when you ruffle through your kit-bag that helped push the bleak atmosphere of ZombiU.

I could barely last an hour per session, before I’d need to go drain my T-shirt and pants from the various bodily fluids that they’d been soaked in from experiencing ZombiU.

And one of the best scares in the game, came from one of the simplest moments. You’re tasked with hitting a supermarket in an especially heavily-infested part of the city, which requires you to go down into the basement to hit a fuse box. And you just know, you just know that something horrible will be waiting downstairs for you.

Except nothing is. Phew! That was easy! What did I have to be worried about? And it’s right there, right in that moment of back-pattery self-congratulation that you find a zombie waiting at the top of the stairs for you. It’s a regular zombie, one that can be bashed dead easy enough, but the sudden appearance and hearing that bastard shriek at you made me throw my GamePad on the bed and walk off.

I just wasn’t prepared, and after having sweat my way through much of that level, my heart almost exploded with that jump scare. That was the straw that broke the back of this camel. So to Ubisoft and the team who made Zombi U, I mean this in the most sincere way possible: You bastards.

Matty – F.E.A.R

264878

F.E.A.R was a pretty cool game when it came out back in 2005, and hell, it’s still decent even by today’s standards. The FPS mechanics were so tight, fast paced, and addictive, that I spent many an hour happily shooting enemies to pieces, or you know, pegging them to the wall with that one weapon that shot stakes. It was mindlessly fun!

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Then there was the other half of the game, which I had no idea existed until I experienced it for the first time. Yeah that creepy girl on the cover should’ve been explanation enough, but what did young teenage me know about foreshadowing? Nothing apparently, because when Alma popped up, I was not prepared for it at all. I had no idea that F.E.A.R was part-time FPS, part-time horror.

There’s the one scene that has always stuck with me as the most terrifying jump scare ever. If any of you have played the game, I’m sure you know exactly which one I’m talking about.

Remember that one ladder? Yeah, it seemed safe, didn’t it? I’ll never forget running over, eager for more shooter shenanigans, only to have Point Man turn around in preparation for his decent down the rungs, and standing there… right f%&#ing there is none other than that little devil child. OMG!

Watching it now, I almost feel bad that it scared me to badly. Those of you who have played the game though will know that that specific moment was absolutely terrifying.

Geoff – Vampire The Masquerade: Bloodlines

Vampire

I don’t really scare easily – though I’m not a big fan of horror games anyway. My biggest scare came, I suppose, because I wasn’t really expecting it. Vampire: The Masquerade is not a scary game, It’s not a horror game in the slightest.

Instead, it’s an RPG that lets you be a vampire, a creature of the night. I remember buying the game. I went out to my local video game store intent on picking up a physical copy of Half-Life 2. I wasn’t the biggest fan of Valve’s shooter, but I was intriguied by the Source Engine and all that it promised, so I ended up going  home with Vampire, because Half-Life 2 wasn’t in stock yet.

It ended up becoming one of my favourite RPGS, and the game responsible for giving me a case of the jolly yuks. I’m sure anybody who’s played the game knows the exact bits that made my posterior starfish go in to spasm. In one mission, you’re sent off to a mansion, and stuff happens.  I won’t get in to it too much, but it was unexpected, and sent a shiver down my spine that made it feel like it would exit out of my balloon-knot, taking the contents of my bowels with it.

Alessandro – F.E.A.R 2

Fear 2

Yes, we’re talking about F.E.A.R again. Although this time is the arguably less intense, less scary sequel, which featured Alma yet again terrorizing mentally while everyone else just wanted to shoot you. F.E.A.R 2 retained most of what made the first game good, but the general consensus was that it was a little light on the jump scares (not complaining), and not as memorable as the game that birthed it.

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Speaking of birth though, didn’t Alma get herself pregnant at the end of the game? By, um, actually raping the main character? Yeah, that really did happen.

It’s a horrifying climax (hey oh!) to an already murderous adventure on the sense, and it’s a moment from the franchise that has stuck with me throughout the years. You’re busy gunning down imaginary bad guys while the idea of Alma on top of you is tearing away at your sanity in the background. And that before you have the frequent jump scares thrown around like they’re going out of style.

Although to be entirely fair, it’s really nothing compared to the horror that was playing through F.3.A.R a few years later. You can check out the (NSFW) ending to F.E.A.R 2 right here.

Zoe – Resident Evil 2

Resi 2

Journey back to a different time. A time when games were played on the original PlayStation and those chunky polygons and horrible scripts were oh so realistic. I picked up Resident Evil 2 with no real idea what I was in for – it just looked like fun and what was the worst that could happen?

Well, I managed to make it to that police station, and started exploring down the various hallways. My youthful optimism meant that I had no problem playing the game totally alone, even in the dark. What was the worst that could happen?

Opening up a door, I saw a long hallway stretch out before me, lined with windows. I was no dummy – of course something bad was waiting for me, and I wasn’t going to fall for the jump scare. Carefully, I walked down the hallway to explore where it led, prepared for something to reach out and kill me at any moment. But nothing did.

Whew! That wasn’t so bad, now was it. Except of course the next time I traversed the same hallway, I was filled with misplaced confidence, definitely needing a new pair of pants and heart after those zombies burst through the windows, totally unexpected.

So thanks Capcom. Thanks for traumatizing me as a little girl so that to this day I can’t walk past windows in games without expecting something to burst through and try to kill me. I’ll be sending the therapy bills.

Last Updated: October 30, 2015

  • Grand Admiral Chief SpaceNinja

    DAT LADDER!

  • Grand Admiral Chief SpaceNinja

    I agree Geoff, that mansion scene, masehare

    • frikkenator

      Duuuuuuude, in the basement kitchen in the mansion. Threw my headphones on the floor and just walked away for a good hour. On a related not, one of my favourite games ever.

  • Grand Admiral Chief SpaceNinja

    Why no Gavin scare? Or does he get a fright when his soccer team loses?

    • BOOM

    • GooseZA

      Liverpool fan here. We get more of a shock when our team wins.

    • hairyknees

      “well there was that time I was playing Dota and for a few seconds I thought it was actually quite good” – Gavin

  • 2 jump to mind. The first… Yes, the infamous ladder scene in F.E.A.R. Freaked the #$%^ out.

    Second was the face transforming door in Doom3.

    There I was… middle of the night. Surround sound. Baby starts crying in game. Bloody footprints appear. Follow the footprints. More baby crying. Get to door… Transforms in to a face that jumps out at me.

    I jump back. Throw my mouse (corded) it flies away from me. Reaches its zenith. Cord pulls tight. Swings round under desk. BAM. Mouse in pieces. Shut down PC. Played in daylight only from then on.

    • Dutch Matrix

      My scariest Doom 3 moments: That same bloody babies.
      And that level where the lights go out, and you following the guy around with the lantern.
      This one evening, it was dark. My room was dark. It was that level.
      The Imp takes out the poor lantern carrier. I nearly fart myself, but manage to take out the imp.
      In real life, I look up, and there in the doorway, is this figure, silhouetted against the light coming from the hall.
      According to reports logged by my fiance, I appeared “to be attempting to climb into the monitor…”

      • HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Oh man.

        Yeah I had a moment like that as well. Was playing and my wife (GF at the time) arrived without me knowing. Touched my shoulder. Needless to say I nearly had heart failure

    • Doom 3 jump scare: I hear an Imp stomping from around the corner, hooves clicking on metal. *clank clank* *clank clank*… getting louder. He’s going to pop around this corner any moment now… ready shotgun. *clank clank* *clank clank*, really loud now! He’s close… *clank clank* *CLANK CLANK* *CLANK CLANK*… quiet…

      At this point, I’m so ready, but the sounds stopped and he’s not appeared yet… Where the heck is he?!

      Turns out, in Doom 3, the Imp’s have learned to climb walls and roofs… That freaking imp drops from the roof straight down to in front of my face. I jump out of the chair, basically throwing the mouse halfway across the room… seconds later, quit the game. I never did finish Doom 3…

      • Hahahahahahahahahahaha

      • Dutch Matrix

        NOOOOO!!!!! That game deserves a finish!

        • Maybe one day I’ll run through it on the easiest difficulty… but that memory is still too fresh in my mind…

  • CypherGate

    I said it before and Ill say it again…. DEADSPACE!!!

    • Never freaked me out. Played the whole game at night with headphones. Got to the end. Finished and felt I had played an ok space shooter.

      • GooseZA

        As I mention in my comment, I had to take hourly breaks to go and hug my wife. That game scared the crap out of me.

        • I don’t get it lol. Didn’t frighten me in the least

      • CypherGate

        Thats odd. The feeling of isolation and tension. It was very intense for me compared to most other horror games. Id rate my top 3 like this. Deadspace first, Silent Hill 2 second & Resident Evil 4

        • I guess each person has a different concept of scare. Dead space felt too “actiony”

          • CypherGate

            Yeah thats true on each person experiences a concept of scare differently. It boils down to possibly a subconscious fear one has. For example for me its a fear of isolation in an unknown place filled things I dont understand. So in that I can ‘feel’ what Isaac could possibly feel if it was a real situation. As for Deadspace 2 and 3…. they totally messed that up. Those sequels were VERY actiony.

          • True hey. Oddly enough Dead Space 2 was more creepy for me haha. Weird

          • CypherGate

            LOL that is weird lol

          • GooseZA

            Dead Space 2 felt too actiony, although I still enjoyed the heck out of it.

            When you put on your suit at the beginning and the helmet / visor closes around Isaac I was like, “Oh hell yeah!”

          • GooseZA

            When you go back onto the Ishimura! I kaaakkkeeedd myself.

          • That moment was like… Why… Would… I …. Do… this…. again……. why……

      • Spy Master Tokashi

        we got a bad ass over here!

  • GooseZA

    For me, I could only play Dead Space for an hour at a time. I would go and hug my wife between play sessions.

    As for biggest gaming scares, off the top of my head:
    1. The dentist appearing out of nowhere in Bioshock
    2. That large tentacle grabbing you early on in Dead Space
    3. Managing to sneak past a ton of androids in Alien Isolation and heading to the exit. As I round a corner I see saliva dripping from a ceiling vent. I noped the heck backwards and hid under a table.
    4. I’m currently stuck in a locker while the Xenomorph is stomping around me. It’s terrifying.

    • Dutch Matrix

      DUDE! Alien Isolation is watching me from my work drawer. You make me feel like I spent R280.00 on a good thing!

      • It’s one of the best horror survival games you will play in a long time.

        Pure gold.

        • Betty Black

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      • GooseZA

        I’m probably only halfway through it but it’s excellent. They’ve designed the whole station incredibly well, and you get that sense of real isolation right from the title screen where you see the station orbiting a massive planet. Every now and then you also come across areas that look out onto space / the planet. You really feel trapped and alone.

        The sound design is also amazing. Play with headphones…. IF YOU DARE!

        • Agreed. MUST play with headphones. It adds to the claustrophobic feeling you have through the whole thing

        • Greylingad[CNFRMD]

          huh uh, nope, nope, not a chance , nope, no way in hell, thank you…

          • Doooooo it!!!!

          • Greylingad[CNFRMD]

            I’ve managed to plough my way to the first set of androids…. yes, that yes….

          • Lol. Cute. You have far to go 😛

          • Greylingad[CNFRMD]

            I know! That’s what scares me the most!

          • GooseZA

            LOL! Ja look, I may or may not be on a temporary permanent break from that game. My nerves can’t handle it.

          • Greylingad[CNFRMD]

            Jissssslaaikit man! It just goes to show how well it’s done, but I will play it in the daytime, when I can hear the birds chirp in the background!

          • Won’t really help much. But cool. Whatever makes you feel “safe”

          • GooseZA

            *android voice*

            Please calm down. You are becoming hysterical.

          • *shudders*

          • Greylingad[CNFRMD]

            Great…. I punched a hole in my screen again… that’s the second one this week…

    • Captain JJ the Goo

      That first Unreal. My jump scare was that dude sitting on the chair that you assume is dead, but once you get near him he flinches. Nearly threw my old mouse out the window.

    • Milesh Bhana

      dat Unreal scene!!!

    • Mossel

      Hahaha! Dude I’m also stuck in a locker about 7hours into the game…haven’t had the balls to go back just yet.

  • (Umar) Must be Cipher

    I don’t know of anyone that played this game, but it was a pretty obscure PS1 horror title. Hell Night scared the living bejeebers out of me. Nothing scarier than hearing the loud breathing of a monster while you’re stuck in a pitch dark maze. Amazing game, that no one seems to have played lol

  • Dutch Matrix

    That same RE 2 hallway. And the big ass spider occupying the whole bloody wall in the sewer. And the Licker falling out the air duct right in front of you…
    Playing RE 2 when house sitting alone? NEVER. AGAIN.

    • CypherGate

      RE2 was the first horror game I played ever. So i feel you on those.

    • Her Highness the Hipster

      that fucking spider! GAH!!

  • Oh! The first time I got attacked by a puppet in Five Nights at Freddies. And the second. And the third. And the fourth.

    Currently still frightened.

  • Alien Isolation: Every single Android attack. Those things freak me the stuff out!

    • GooseZA

      Yeah, I’m currently on the medical bay level trying to avoid the alien. It’s kak scary.

      • Dat medbay. Yoh. I’m close to the end but it’s hard AF. Just can’t get through and I refuse to drop difficulty.

        • Mistake Not…

          That final level! My nerves were wrecked, and I refused to play without headphones.

          • Hahaha. Same. BUt sheesh. Final level is KILLER hard

          • Mistake Not…

            So few hiding spots…

          • So many encounters

          • GooseZA

            *watches Xenomorph walk past locker and out the door.
            *breathes sigh of relief
            *Xenomorph turns around, rips the door off the locker and murders me.

          • Mistake Not…

            I hate when that thing just waits outside the locker. Or when I simply don’t know where the hell it is.

          • Yeah that’s happened to me before too. Freaking pain in the GAT

          • Dutch Matrix

            Replace the Xenomorph with my Ex-Girlfriend…

          • 10/10 need this mod

        • GooseZA

          Yeah it’s really tough. Also don’t want to drop the difficulty.

    • Captain JJ the Goo

      I definitely will be getting this game soon. It’s been on my wishlist for far too long now.

      • Dutch Matrix

        Console or PC?

        • Captain JJ the Goo

          PC.
          Goes down to $15 on the good sales luckily.

      • Do it. You won’t regret it

  • Guild

    Mine was Hexen, there was a sound bite that played when I think it was witches that were close by. Freaky little tune that would send a shiver up my spine and I would panic.

    More recent was in Dying Light, found a zombie in a bathroom in the school, sitting on a toilet and I knew it was going to move but it didn’t. So I went closer and only once I stepped in the stall then it jumped and grabbed my neck. Almost dropped the controller with that one

    • Hammersteyn

      BANNED!

  • Hammersteyn

    P.T. was pretty intense. Pity really

    • hairyknees

      Yeah I thought about that too, but it was too recent 😛

      • Hammersteyn

        Most of the others are mentioned in the comments

      • Dutch Matrix

        P.T? Yes. That was scary for an unfit guy like me. Especially in Standard 2. When the girl I crushed on so heavily stood and watched as the PT onnie made me do push ups till I cried!

  • For me, it’s a tie.

    Running from the water monster in Amnesia: The Dark Descent and basically the entire atmosphere constructed in the original Dead Space.

    • I could never finish Amnesia. It still to this day gives me motion sickness

      • That game was absolutely horrifying.

  • Greylingad[CNFRMD]

    There was a moment, a brief one at that, in Half Life 2, where a strangely agile headcrab zombie jumped on me, even though it was daylight outside and inside my room, I had to clean my underwear…

    • Ravenholm. Still shudder to this day

      • Greylingad[CNFRMD]

        Oh yes, I loved Ravenholm… the screams from the zombies when they were set alight…. but there was also this one scene in HL1 where you go around a corner on a staircase and this bliksemse headcrab jumps at you, not once, not twice, but every single time I went through that part I pretty much crapped myself…

        • HL1 was brilliant. There’s a part in some drain pipe where one jumps out at you too. Freaking CRAP PANTS each time

  • Derrich Schleich

    Right in the beginning of Fear 1, you look down this long hallway and a shadow figure moved across. At this point my friend thought it would be a great idea to switch off the lights. By the time he did that, I was already out of the game busy uninstalling. Quite clear I can’t play scary games. I get frights from random creeps in minecraft…

  • Jac7

    I feel compelled to hide in lockers every time I’m in the gym’s changing room. Fuck you very much Alien: Isolation.

  • Captain JJ the Goo

    No Alessandro. FEAR 2 can gitfs

  • Dutch Matrix

    A game that really made me move my bowels? Not a horror game. But Medal of Honor: Allied Assault.
    Normandy beach. When that ramp drops, and the bullets zip past your head, and all around you your brothers in arms are shot, their screams mixed in with the sound of machine gun fire coming from the bunkers on the beach…

  • Darren Peach

    One that springs to mind is Resident Evil One. When the Zombie Dogs jump through the windows in that hallway. The radio from Silent Hill was spooky. Doom 3, When that floor collapses and you are surrounded by Demons. The Atmosphere in Doom 3 was scary as hell. Fear, The Ladder. I seem to remember being so spooked by Doom 3 it was hard to push on at times. Same feeling for Resident Evil. Bioshock, When you turn around to find one of those creepy people standing right there just looking at you. So many.

  • Captain JJ the Goo

    I didn’t find Bloodlines very scary or as amazeballs as everyone says it was.
    I agree on that ladder though. Crazy sh!t. Extraction Point also had a few good scares in it.
    My biggest recent scare was in Damned when I was standing in a room in an abandoned hospital when that girl appeared on the other side of the window. It’s way more terrifying when you know it’s a person controlling her and not just some AI.

  • Darren Peach

    Another one from resident Evil, You are walking down another passage and arms suddenly stick out through a boarded up doorway and try and grab you. Yikes.

  • KingKappie

    every time I walk into BT games and see game prices

  • Francois Knoetze

    Resident Evil 2. When the licker came through the one way glass. I will never forget the chilling sound of a bunch of primary school boys screaming like little girls at 2am in the morning. Plus that made me miss Chess Pizza so badly…WHY CAN’T I HAVE MY CHICKEN TIKKA MASSALLA PIZZA ANYMORE!?

  • Greylingad[CNFRMD]

    Minesweeper, when you’ve meticulously spent time avoiding that bloody mines and calculated that exact location and BOOM…game over…

  • oVg

    This 😛

  • Martin Human

    Biggest scare a game gave me? Battlefronts pricetag…

  • Alien Emperor Trevor

    Yeah, that FEAR ladder. Another one that that made me kak my broeks was the first STALKER game where you go underground into a deserted lab… and stuff starts moving…

  • Michael Matusowsky

    Resident Evil 2 traumatised me so hard that to this day I can’t do anything to do with zombies. Nothing at all.

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  • Jonah Cash

    Resident Evil 2. But not the window scene. Mine was going into the sewers for the first time and hear those click click sounds. Was sure it was a licker, so took out my shotgun and went for the T-junction. Got there and boom one of those bloody Dobermans jump from the side, I turn to face it to shoot. And boom another hit me from the other side… I screamed like a little girl both times!!

  • ElimiNathan

    Between FEAR when Ulma’s mother appears in the vent with you and the 1st time I played Doom 3 at night

  • Johann

    Clive Barker’s Undying had a couple of jump scares that made me almost empty my bowels. Although it did loose it’s scary atmosphere as soon as you get the big weapons.

  • Spy Master Tokashi

    I shat in my pants when I played Doom 3 and I have never finished it. I just could not play it or finish it.

    F.E.A.R was also moerse scary!

  • Craig “Crios” Boonzaier

    Vampire The Masquerade: Bloodlines
    That damn haunted house mission

  • WitWolfy

    Dead space when i ran out of ammo and that regen thing was hot on my tail.

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