Top 7... Scariest moments in otherwise unfrightening games

7. Lumiose City girl (Pokmon X & Y)

You're in a town that looks like Paris and everyone is being friendly, because it's a Pokemon game and that's how people roll. You stroll up to a building that looks like every other building and go inside, where you're met by a handful of folks talking about how much they love Pokemon. Again, this is to be expected. You take the elevator to the third floor and--surprise--there are some people chatting about Pokemon. Bored, you decide to check out what the second floor has to offer. The elevator doors open, you step out, and

Suddenly, you're unable to move. The lights start to flicker. Out of nowhere, a girl with a vacant stare is now standing directly behind you. She slowly slides--not walks, slides--out around you. The music stops. "No, you're not the one..." she (it?) says, and slides further, out of view. And then she's gone. No one addresses it, no other characters acknowledge it, and nothing else in the game references it. Now, sitting in your home in a dark room, you begin to wonder if it actually happened, or if it was just all in your mind.

6. The Winter Lodge (Fable 2)

It's the quintessential Christmas-time vignette: walking a well-lit path through the forest amidst a winter wonderland. Your trusty dog is at your side; the light snowfall a pleasant reminder of the season. And oh, what's this! A cozy-looking lodge at the end of the road, sure to be bustling with patrons this time of year. Perhaps you'll hop in for a cup of hot cocoa; trade some stories around the crackling fire. As you near, the place seems strangely quiet. Merrily--with just a hint of caution--you set foot through the unlocked door.

REEEwooooo. The sound of nails peeling as they scrape a dirtied chalkboard, followed by a breathy echo. That's the noise of this picturesque scene instantly devolving into a nightmare. The warm glow from inside the house has been replaced by a chilling darkness. An Iron Maiden torture device has taken the place of an armoire. A skeleton lies in an agonized posed at your feet; instead of food at the table, there's a corpse. You neither know nor care how this haunted lodge came to be. You just want to be as far away from it as possible, now.

5. Stroggification (Quake 4)

It's a Quake game. You expect--nay, demand--copious amounts of blood and gore, even in this misguided, story-driven reboot. Having played plenty of FPSes in your time, you've become desensitized to the crimson spray of vital fluids and chunky innards that results when your shotgun meets Strogg faces. However, halfway through the game, you suddenly realize that id forget to mention some very key details about the virtual violence on display. Namely, being forced to watch helplessly as all your anxieties about surgery play out on screen.

Spoiler alert for a game no one needs to play: In an effort to inject Quake 4's lukewarm plot with a twist, you're captured by the Strogg forces and assimilated, cybernetic body and all. You get a point-of-view look at the entire operation while strapped to a gurney, slowly being carted through a Strogg funhouse of spinning blades and blood-splattered walls. You dread what's coming, because you're watching it all happen to the poor sap in front of you. Do you fear large hypodermic needles, or graphic scenes of amputation by way of rusty saws? Great, because that's all here.

4. True Mimi (Super Paper Mario)

On his quest to foil the dastardly Count Bleck, Mario runs into a case of mistaken identity. You see, Bleck's minion Mimi is a master of disguise, able to shift her dainty ponytailed, pixel-shaped green self into any form she chooses. At one point, she tries to trick you by impersonating Merlee, a recurring fortune teller throughout the Paper Mario chronicles. Luckily, a vision of Merlee warns you to see through this illusion. Now exposed, Mimi lashes out. "Oh, you want to make things ugly, huh?" says Mimi. "Well, that's super. Let's get ugly."

Her neck begins to twitch, clicking with the sound of snapping vertebrae until it's spinning uncontrollably. The expression on Mimi's contorting face has gone from anger to a vacuous smile. Without warning, six long, spindly legs burst forth from her square noggin, twitching as they bend to the ground. Mimi--in her true form--is a grotesque, spider-like creature who stands from floor to ceiling. A lifeless body still hangs from what used to be her neck, her new mouth screeching "Mimimimimimimi" as it looms over you. This is a Nintendo game.

3. Matt Helms (No More Heroes 2)

One of the steps on Travis Touchdown's path toward mercenary greatness is taking out Matt Helms, who's currently Rank 24 on the list of deadly killers. Doing so won't be easy, as you'll soon find out. After this burly, baby-faced masked psychopath gets the jump on you in an abandoned house, you'll have to out-maneuver his flamethrower-plus-axe weapon of choice. But even after Travis's beam sword converts Helms into a beheaded geyser of blood, the worst is still to come.

Where Helms' body should be stands a naked, crazy-eyed youngster covered in gore. In a voice barely louder than a whisper, he stares in Touchdown's eyes and utters "I'mgonnakill you." Just before he can bring an axe down on your head, Sylvia saves you with an impeccably timed bullet. Turns out, this kid made a pact with the devil as he burned alive in a house fire, swearing to kill his parents in exchange for immortality. As such, that bullet does little more than phase him--and when he jolts back upright with a played-in-reverse laugh, you'll feel a shiver running up your spine.

2. A journey through hell (UmJammer Lammy)

PaRappa the Rapper's lesser known sister act, MilkCan, revolves around the skilled guitar playing of paper-thin lamb Lammy. As you play through her debut adventure on the PS1, you've become accustomed to a certain degree of insanity within the game's world. The landscape is psychedelic and colorful; the people are all anthropomorphic versions of animals of inanimate objects. But nothing before Stage 6 could prepare you for Lammy's awful existence in the afterlife.

In the PAL and Japanese versions, Lammy unceremoniously dies after slipping on a banana peel while rushing to a concert. Though she's committed no sin, she finds herself a denizen of Hell, fourth-wall-breakingly mocking the game for such a sudden (and stupid) ending as fake credits roll. This scene was replaced for the US release--by something even more unnerving. Instead of slipping on a peel, Lammy is rocketed backwards after getting her belt stuck on a doorknob. The inertia is so violent that it sends Lammy back through time, as VCR grain clutters the screen and we see old scenes play in reverse. Only now, they have stuttering animations, ear-splitting noises, and terrifyingly distorted voice samples. It's pandemonium incarnate.

1. Giant cannibal babies (Drakengard)

We live in a world where a Drakengard series spin-off, Nier, is better known than the main series itself. For those who haven't played the original Drakengard, i.e. almost everyone, it follows the reluctant pact made between a man and a dragon. This Square Enix game had a little bit of everything: on-foot skirmishes as a one-man army, aerial combat sequences as your dragon soars through the air, and a plethora of dramatic cutscenes. None of it was scary. Through a multitude of twists and turns, the plot could wind up at one of five endings. But only one of them was thisfrightening. This twisted.

We'll spare you the lore, because we'd rather not know. In this particular ending, a grisly scene unfolds--one so mortifying, it's almost humorous, before it sets in as officially FRACKING scary. Gigantic, gurgling babies called Grotesqueries descend from the heavens. People cower in fear as almighty toddlers levitate through the sky. Severely unnerving melodies sets the score, intercut with babies' gooing and gaing. A woman, driven mad at such a sight, offers herself as "the greatest of feasts." And with that, the gigantic babies descend upon and devour her, squealing in delight. W. T. F.

Fright night

Oh sure, we might've skewed too far into the realm of the obscure. But hey, how can you be scared when you know what's coming? There are plenty of other good ones--Half-Life 2's Ravenholm, Milla's repressed trauma in Psychonauts, or The Cradle (pictured above) from Thief: Deadly Shadows. Which terrifying moments in seemingly innocent games scared the bejeezus out of you?

Looking for more scares before All Hallow's Eve? Check out our list of the Best horror games and The Top 7 Weirdest theories about the Pokemon universe.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lucas likes his games like he likes his music: eclectic. With all the weird and wonderful stuff he's played over the years, the two of you are bound to feel the same way about something!
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