15 ways to tell you’re in deadly peril in a video game

The lights go out

Darkness is never a good thing. That’s why God invented torches, 60 watt light bulbs and that little, several billion tonne ball of burning gas called the sun. If you’re playing a game and all the lights suddenly get cut or flicker sporadically, you might as well start planning what you want your headstone to say. Nefarious space beasties and freedom-hating terrorists love using the cloak of darkness to sneak up on you. Fail to reach a well-lit room within 14 seconds of such a lighting malfunction and its odds on you’re about to get your spine snapped in two or be radicalised until you want to wear a balaclava at all times.

Above: Honestly, you never know what kind of horrors are waiting to prey on you in the dark

You find yourself in or anywhere near water

All video game water is evil. If it can’t kill you instantly just by touch (ala almost every 2D plaformer or GTA), it’ll have something lurking under its surface that wants to send your character to that game over screen in the sky. Is it really worth risking the wrath of the digital Grim Reaper for a sip of H2O? Our advice: stay well clear of anything wet and make sure your 2D comedy marsupial or homicidal criminal is stocked up on bottled water.

You hear music

Video games love to signpost imminent danger/death with an overwrought, sinister musical cue. Fine, sometimes it’s just there to celebrate you collecting a shiny new power-up or booting a boss in the spuds. All too often, though, the introduction of a soundtrack means the faeces is about to hit the fan in spectacular fashion. Just make sure your character is packing a suitably sized piece of automatic weaponry and try to act surprised when that sun-deprived serial killer jumps out at you.

Above: Watch out behind you, luv. There’s probably a sex offender hiding behind your couch

Really, the only thing more threatening than a bit of dramatic scoring is…


Seriously, dude. You’re f**ked. A prolonged period of time without the reassuring embrace of a catchy beat can only mean things are about to go homicidally pear-shaped. Silence, especially in survival horror, just means the developer purged the music to make sure you could hear the footsteps of the thing creeping up behind you that’s planning to rearrange your colon.

Above: Officially the most dangerous setting for a game ever


  • kaittybee - March 18, 2010 5:49 p.m.

    this is by far my favorite article on this website. this article saved me from dying in quite a few games! LONG LIVE GAMESRADAR!
  • Bloori - February 18, 2010 8:55 p.m.

    ronald mcdonald?! Lol, and there should be- If you are a little girl in Resident Evil. I saw a little girl die there. or, If you are stuck in a room full of strange people who don't answer, then their heads turn 360 to face you. That is a Definate "Oh shit, i'm gonna die in this game" moment. Trust me, that should be there.
  • RoflZilla - January 27, 2010 8:40 p.m.

    you also forgot going over a hill. it seams evory time you get to the to the is a big ass monster waiting for you.
  • AuthorityFigure - January 27, 2010 12:18 p.m.

    DOOM3 contains virtually ALL of these devices... It's like they just checked them all off when designing the damn thing.
  • g4m3rk1dd - January 25, 2010 5:21 p.m.

    lol anywhere near water? what about that game hydrophobia? XD and if u have the worlds most kick ass fast food clown behind you about to well...kick your ass...then yes its an automatic game over
  • MaynardJ - January 25, 2010 3:33 p.m.

    Nice article!! Two more ideas: 1. I agree with Picnic1 on the seemingly abandoned area, but you're even more certain of imminent death if you find another character (preferably a hostage) there and a cutscene starts. Something bad will happen during or after that cutscene, I'm thinking of Metal Gear Solid right now. 2. I'm currently playing Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones, a very notable exception to the water rule. If you and your partner get separated during a cutscene, you're about to be attacked. Surely this applies to a lot of other games.
  • Spybreak8 - January 24, 2010 11:59 p.m.

    Haha I love the Deadspace, lights out, McDonalds guy behind him one and the librarian silence was also pretty funny. I just got done playing Mass Effect again and you gotta love it when it autosaves before or after you enter an area/building etc.
  • nugby - January 24, 2010 11:04 p.m.

    "Take on the baddies. They ain't go anything on those leaves" That line is AWESOME!
  • Picnic1 - January 24, 2010 10:17 p.m.

    Good article. I especially liked this line: 'Any door, gate or fancy electronic barrier you walk through that then shuts on its own accord is doing so because it wants you out of the union' I would add another way that you can tell you are in deadly peril. When you enter any seemingly abandoned industrial warehouse area (this has later been extended to include buildings like churches). This allows an unlimited number of would be assasins to appear from nowhere and fire at you from windows, overhead gantries, behind barrels or other scenery, sit in huge cargo boxes, waiting to kill you with a sniper rifle or even come down from the ceiling through a skylight on a wire. I'm thinking of Max Payne 2 and Half life 2.
  • Guardian88 - January 24, 2010 3:36 a.m.

    When the lights go out, it WOULD be scary as f*** to see Ronald McDonald just standing behind you. HAHAHA but that picture is really f***in' funny!!!
  • patri0t - January 23, 2010 9:45 p.m.

    wow i didnt know how dangerous games could be thanks for the tips GR!!
  • RaIdEn - January 23, 2010 5:19 a.m.

    forget uroboros, zombies, aliens, sociopathic killers and demons, if i find out ronald mcdonalds loose in a building with me, im turning off the game and snapping the disk. creepy ass clown bastard
  • kratos2144 - January 22, 2010 11:32 p.m.

    On the last quote i think you meant to say "They ain't got anything.." And you guys said. "They ain't go anything.."
  • Xeacons - January 22, 2010 7:24 p.m.

    I can't believe you guys got so much against facial hair. How bout all our favorite heroes? Mario, Gordon Freeman? L4D's Bill? Need I continue? Guys you can trust!
  • jackthemenace - January 22, 2010 6:39 p.m.

    i love these articles :D you guys are an inspiration to gamers everywhere. i will never look at a pile of leaves the same way again ¬.¬
  • FreekinIdiot - January 22, 2010 4:49 p.m.

    God I love the one with psycho Ronald McDonald, he turely is a deeply malevolent creature of satan but man does he do good burgers :)
  • Conman93 - January 22, 2010 4:19 p.m.

    Lol im playing chrono trigger now, and there is always a conveniently placed save point out of nowhere. Same in mario and luigi 3 Lol at the zelda ones.Sooo true
  • Oddeh7 - January 22, 2010 3:15 p.m.

    So librarians can now kill genetically enhanced hedgehogs with a finger and their mind? Oh god no. Plus, Issac Clarke VS Ronald McDonald = BEST DEATHMATCH EVAR
  • rxb - January 22, 2010 1:24 p.m.

    Good read, all soo true. Personally I hate the self locking doors most.
  • StrayGator - January 22, 2010 5:57 a.m.

    Doctors should be exempt from the facial hair rule. gordon freman and eli vance are probably the 2 people i'd like to have on my side during a zombie apocalypse / bar fight. That's even before mentioning Dr. Light. oh, c'mon.

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