What are the scariest moments in non-horror video games? Redbrick Gaming writers are here to answer this question and showcase some chilling candidates
Most of us have encountered horror video games at some point. However, horror titles do not produce the only frightful moments in the industry. Many non-horror games include the occasional unsettling levels, where the tone dramatically shifts and your palms begin to sweat. This Halloween, let’s celebrate those levels in non-horror games that made our hearts rapidly beat.
Kyle Moffat – Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, ‘The Bunker’ and ‘Unwelcome Guests’
Chapter 18 (‘The Bunker’) of the original Uncharted game is freaky from the offset. Just moments prior – in chapter 17, titled ‘The Heart of the Vault’ – Nathan Drake first sights the Descendants. These creatures were previously human, turning into zombie-like creatures after exposure to what is inside El Dorado. Additionally, they consider everything that is not a Descendant as an enemy, thus trying to kill the player.
In chapter 17, at least you have an ally by the name of Eddy Raja. However, he is killed by a Descendant before its close. Your other ally (Elena Fisher) is waiting for you to turn on the power in the bunker. So, you are essentially by yourself. Not so bad, right? I mean, most of the game it is basically you versus a private militia. Well, you would be wrong. It is bad enough that when you enter the Bunker, it is pitch black aside from Drake’s torch. Add to the mix an eerie composition and the Descendants – which can swiftly kill you – and it is frightening. All it takes is a couple of hits to die and the Descendants are fast, while lurking around corners.
Unfortunately we could not provide an image from these chapters, this is from another somewhat eerie section of the game.
Let us assume that you finish Chapter 18 and turn the power on. Well, things hardly get better. In chapter 19 (‘Unwelcome Guests’), the lights come back on, but the Descendants gather, making the player feel truly outnumbered. You must then fight your way through to uncover the truth and escape. The only thing that makes this eerie scene less frightful is the generous amount of ammo laying on the floor.
While the later Uncharted games comprise of several unsettling moments, the original was much more subtle, so this came as a terrifying surprise.
Dashiell Wood – Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines, Calling Dr. Grout
2004’s Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines is a game as intensely Gothic as it is unquestionably brilliant. Based on a tabletop game of the same name and set in the World of Darkness, Bloodlines’ gloomy night-time interpretation of Santa Monica, California, is far from a pleasant trip to the seaside.
Although the game has its fair share of scary moments throughout, with one of the earliest missions even featuring a full-on Shining-esque haunted hotel complete with its own ghoulish axe murderer and an array of ghostly victims, I found the most unnerving encounter came a few hours later with the ninth story quest: ‘Calling Dr. Grout’.
This mission sees your fledgling protagonist visiting the mansion of the mysteriously missing and utterly insane vampire doctor. A colossal Victorian-era construction situated in the glamorous Hollywood Hills, Grout has repurposed his property as a makeshift asylum and filled it with labyrinthine corridors, secret passages, and a twisted Alice-in-Wonderland like aesthetic.
If the house itself wasn’t already scary enough, the player also must fight off its inhabitants which come in the form of Grout’s grotesque experimentations. There’s little ammunition and even fewer health items to be found throughout the level, meaning that survival is a particular struggle. To make matters worse, your exploration is constantly narrated by the mad doctor in the form of cassette tapes containing his ego-maniacal, and quite frankly uncomfortable, broodings on the theories of Sigmund Freud.
Perhaps the only source of consolation in the whole of ‘Calling Dr. Grout’, is that the mission concludes (spoiler alert!) with the miserable mansion and its repugnant residents quite satisfyingly burning to the ground.
Dan Jenkins – Star Wars: Republic Commando, Ghost Ship Recon
When you think of Star Wars, you probably think of guilt free fun. Absent from your thoughts are questions about the necessity of this war in the stars, and why so many people are willing to die for it. In this respect, Star Wars: Republic Commandos the black sheep of the franchise, and nowhere is this felt more keenly than in the second level.
As a child, the early stages of this section truly tested my bravery and willingness to live out my fantasy of being a faceless cog in the interstellar murder machine. I encountered a derelict spaceship filled with murderous droids that seek to drill through your helmet into your skull, and Trandoshan slavers (they’re like lizard people) armed with shotguns and knives, jumping out from behind door frames and appearing from vents without warning. It’s not just in the jump-scares that this level proves its spookiness, it’s full of blood smeared walls and dismembered clone soldiers. There’s even a mass grave in a trash compactor.
None of this belongs in a game rated 12+, but after I got over the initial shakes and spooks, I found myself replaying this level over and over again.
Tom Martin – Sonic and the Secret Rings, Alf Layla wa-Layla (Final Boss)
I had spate of sleepwalking incidents I had when I was a child. Some nights I would be scuttling around unseen, laughing that maniacally innocent laugh that children have, other nights I’d stand in doorways completely silent, only moving when my parents would tell me to go back to bed, even this I did in complete silence. Everything short of climbing up the walls.
In what I assume was the last step before calling an exorcist, my parents confiscated a game I’d been playing a lot of at the time, Sonic and the Secret Rings, and sure enough, my sleepwalking stopped. We determined that it was the fight with the final boss from this game that had disturbed my young mind to such an extent. But whilst it might take some convincing to make you understand how a Sonic the Hedgehog game of all things had this effect on me, but I hope you’ll understand when you see Alf Layla wa-Layla.
This monstrous, incomplete genie entity is something no child should be subjected to. With more holes than Swiss cheese, a haunting echoed voice and an intent to sacrifice Sonic in order to attain his true form, I can forgive twelve-year-old me for being so scared of this children’s game. So when you wonder why a ghost with any genuine intent to spook would use a child as a conduit when so many other scarier alternatives exist, think of my poor parents, and the trauma I must have caused them.
Thank you for reading this spooky feature! Check out more of the Gaming team’s articles below: