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
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
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!
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
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
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.
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
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