What’s your scariest gaming memory?

Michael Grimm, cheats and guides editor

These days, it takes a lot for a game to affect me; the slightly less surly 12-year-old version of myself, less so. Thanks to my open-minded grandma, 12-year-old me had a pipeline to the latest M-rated games on the market. The original Resident Evil was one of those games, a much-coveted birthday gift that I assumed would be a fun, gory romp through a zombie-filled mansion. Soon after booting it up though, my little brother and I realized Resident Evil was something far different.

The somber music, isolation, and limited resources created a palpable sense of dread and fear in us. Add to that the brutally explicit death animations for your character, and there was plenty to disturb our young minds. In fact, the game so disturbed us that we’d routinely leap up and hit the power button when a new enemy appeared, out of fear of seeing our character decapitated, eviscerated or some other verb-ed.

The peak of horror came at the first boss, though: Yawn, the giant snake in the attic. Having glanced through some gaming magazines, I knew that the boss was there. I knew that once I opened this door, it was on. And I couldn’t do it. I’d load my save and just stare at the door. I’m not particularly afraid of snakes or anything, but something about that boss was just too much for me to handle. I ended up having to get a friend to press the button to open the door for me. The jaggy string of polygons that composed that snake isn’t much to look at today, nor was it at the time, but RE left a lasting impression on me like no scary movie or story ever did.

Sophia Tong, managing editor

I tend to avoid scary games, because I get scared easily and it takes me awhile to recover from the subsequent nightmares. I know that there are a lot of excellent games I'm missing out on, but even when I play with all the lights on and very low sound, I still get freaked out.

 My scariest moment would have to be the dentist's chair in BioShock. I knew that the game would raise my blood pressure, but I really wanted to see the story. I had my brother play for me, thinking that it would be less scary that way. When I played on my own, I stayed in open hallways and never wandered into bathrooms, but when he took over, he was much more thorough. I remember screaming and falling off the couch when he walked into a room that WAS empty, but when a burst of smoke came down and a dead body appeared on the chair after it cleared, I knew it was over and had to leave the room. I've been meaning to go back, but I still haven't gotten over the shock.

Tyler Nagata, senior news editor

Sometimes a scary moment isn’t dressed in eerie music or an ugly enemy attack that caught you by surprise. True fear struck me when I discovered my World of Warcraft account had been banned. First came the feeling of frustration when my usual login and password didn’t let me in. Next came denial, as I continued re-entering the same account name and password over and over again. Soon, pure panic swept over me once I found out I’d been banned, imagining dirty gold farmers pillaging my hard-earned loot and spamming global chat channels with shady URLs. Then came the despair. It looks like I won’t be running any Heroics with my priest anytime soon.

Don’t be like me. Consider the Authenticator and Mobile Authenticator to associate your account with a unique authentication code for an extra layer of protection. Make sure your browser and plug-ins, like Adobe Flash Player and Adobe Reader, are up to date. And always turn on your browser’s phishing filter.

Lorenzo Veloria, cheats editor

If you ever want to know whether you, as a person, would be good and level-headed in a crisis, take a look back at how you handled the village in Resident Evil 4. Walking through the woods leading up to the village and finding disemboweled corpses, axe-wielding psychopaths and deadly traps sets the tone for just how deranged a place Leon stumbles into. Soon after Leon discovers the murderous townsfolk burning a pile of corpses in the village center, they attack, forcing Leon to barricade himself in a house.

Never in my life have I done so many things wrong in such a small amount of time. The townsfolk were breaking in – through the doors, the windows, everywhere. I frantically wasted all of my pistol and shotgun ammo trying to hold back the horde. I was surrounded and backed into a corner, when the door came down and a chainsaw-wielding maniac ran straight for me. My knife did little to prevent the most gruesome and frightening beheading I’d ever seen in a videogame. If I’ve ever screamed while playing a game, this is when it happened.

Annette Cardwell, digital content director

Back in PlayStation One days, I had just gotten Resident Evil: Director's Cut, right when force-feedback controllers first came out. Director's Cut was one of the first games that actually utilized the whole force-feedback feature. So I decided I'd be badass, and play it in the dark. Turned out all the lights, settled in right in front of the TV. I'll never forget — the first time a zombie attacked me and that controller rumbled in my hand, it scared the shit out of me. Totally jumped out of my skin! Seems so commonplace now, the whole idea of a vibrating controller, but that game totally taught me a harsh new sensory experience for games.

Amber Fariss, production editor

The two BioShock games are the only horror/scary I’ve successfully played through.  One of the scariest moments (apart from the dentist suddenly appearing behind you and the moving “statues”) for me was the first time I encountered a Houdini splicer in Arcadia.  I usually try to help everyone in need in games as much as possible, so when I hear a guy calling for help, I try to follow his calls.  Hearing someone cackling doesn’t decrease the suspense as I run down each hallway, following the sound.

Tailing the guy, I see him turn the corner.  Right as I turn the same corner, he’s disappeared. I see a mask made out of twigs on a desk and go to take a closer look. The lights flicker, and as soon as they stop, an unfamiliar shadow appears on the wall in front of me! I turn around, and there’s a splicer standing there facing me. He says, “Hello, beautiful,” I jump in my seat and fail to shoot him in time before he disappears.

Matt Keast, reviews editor

Pyramid Head overshadows everything when discussing the terrors of Silent Hill 2, but for me it was a seemingly random (but scripted) in-game event that made me say “Holy…” There’s a point where you’ve already encountered the mannequins – those gross creatures formed from the stitched-together legs of female mannequins, and you think you know what to expect from them. You’re walking along a quiet stretch of road, with Silent Hill’s signature thick fog turning the world into a gray void around you. Off to the right, there’s a guardrail and some kind of sloping-away embankment. The world is quiet, with only your footsteps echoing into the mist.

Out of the fog, beyond the guard rail, a shape emerges, arcing through the air as if fired from a catapult. It looks like a giant dead spider, with legs curled up over the body. It hits the ground with a thump. Here the game has cheated, just a bit – your radio hasn’t gone off with its white noise to warn you of the presence of monsters. It’s a great trick, because otherwise it wouldn’t have had the same impact. There’s just something about the way the silence remains unbroken as this grotesque, bizarre thing just floats up out of the mist and thumps on the asphalt. Then, of course, your radio does kick in, as the thing unfolds, gets to its feet, and you realize it’s a mannequin. Such a simple, amazingly creepy moment and a wonderful way to take a known enemy and reintroduce it in an alien way to keep you off your footing.

Hollander Cooper, news editor

Fairly early on in the original Dead Space, one of the necromorphs’ corpses came to life as I walked by. I leapt with terror, the controller flying out of my hand as I let out a shriek. I scampered to the floor, frantically trying to find my Xbox 360 controller as the sounds of my in-game avatar being clawed to bits blared through my surround-sound speakers. I found it just in time, barely surviving the encounter by bashing the enemy in the face and then stomping on it until there was nothing left.

But the experience changed me. From that point on, I shot every single corpse I came across for fear that it would happen again. It made things more difficult, since I’d always be short on ammo, but I didn’t care. I wasn’t getting caught off-guard; I wouldn’t let it scare me like that ever again. Even in the game’s sequel, which released over two years later, that haunting memory stayed with me, and I continued to check every body.

Now that we’ve let you in on our scariest memories, what are some of your own? Let us know in the comments below.

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  • john-kiff - February 24, 2012 11:34 a.m.

    Oh and the scariest moment is the Choir Hall. They are just walking around willy nilly. Its terrifying! What also makes this so tense is the atmosphere, one of the best I have seen. "Is there something there waiting for me? Is something going to pop through that door and run for me? How long do I have to put myself through this?" and the SOUND. The music is not some wiener piano spooky theme, this is proper intense sh*t. I dub thee, scariest experience ever. I actually do not recommend playing this game, because I don't want you to put yourself through it.
  • john-kiff - February 24, 2012 11:29 a.m.

    Amnesia: The Dark Descent I have played A LOT of horror games. But this one is evil and cruel and shows no mercy. It is genuinely terrifying. Being absolutely helpless to the grotesque enemies is horrific, running away is your only option, or hiding. If you play it without stopping, it takes 8 hours... I took about half a year because of stopping and starting.
  • rongunz - November 21, 2011 10:24 p.m.

    scariest memory? seeing the 3 ghosts in Act 2 of Sandopolis Zone in Sonic & Knuckles. That almost made me pee on myself! LOL
  • kskuse - November 2, 2011 11:49 a.m.

    when i got my first ps1 and r.e when you run into your first zombie and he slowly turns around. i swear crap trickled down my leg
  • ChiChiRocket - November 1, 2011 11:41 a.m.

    One word: piano. Big Boo's Haunt in Super Mario 64 was one of the scariest moments of my early gaming career. Back before I knew the horrors that video games could deliver. Maybe I should have expected such a scare in a haunted house, but I was a naive fifth grader. Searching for red coins in the house, I came across the one sitting next to the piano. I go to grab it, and the piano suddenly springs to life. The way it jumped out me, with chaotic keys pounding, complete with teeth, left me terrified. After that point, I dreaded going into that level again, let alone going near the piano. The only place I felt safe was in the merry-go-round area. Anywhere else, with the creepy music playing, left me feeling pretty unsafe.
  • GhostNappa2k10 - November 1, 2011 4:15 a.m.

    The scariest moment I remember is trying to defeat Fire Leo in Viewtiful Joe with one life left, and one heart of health. If you lost, you had to fight all the bosses again! So scary *shivers*
  • lennontorres - October 31, 2011 10:25 p.m.

    I would have to say my first scary moment I experienced was in Resident Evil 4 when you first face the regenerators. Their breathing and the fact I had no rifle ammo made it terrible. Another one of the scariest moments would be in f.e.a.r. 3 when you go through the homes. The music sets up most of the scare for me
  • GorditaSlim - October 31, 2011 9:19 a.m.

    Resident Evil 2. First Licker scare. My childhood friend and I nearly pissed our pre-teen pants.
  • grimreaper144 - October 29, 2011 11:37 a.m.

    mine?ok well when i was like 5 was playin a game with my best bro micheal it was on ps1 not too sure what the name was but you were this dude just randomley walking through a grave yard all of a sudden a werewolf jumped out of a coffin i was so scared i left my friend in the room and hid in a cupboard with dad's screwdriver at the ready
  • jmcgrotty - October 29, 2011 2:33 a.m.

    It's embarrassing to say it, considering the video that was in this article, but for me it is definitely various parts of the Fatal Frame series (Can't pick out just one or two specific examples, though). And isn't even close.
  • CitizenWolfie - October 29, 2011 2:07 a.m.

    Completely missed the Resident Evil 4 siege when I first played it on GC - I ended up circling round the village funneling the villagers into bottlenecks and picking them off that way. Still scared the Hell out of me though. Then I played again and tried to hide in that house and I still occasionally have nightmares about it. Some of my other highfrights include hearing The Witch for the first time in Left for Dead, Lisa Trevor from REmake and my first ever 10 minutes in Silent Hill. But the absolute worst horror I've ever felt is the moment I tried to format an external hard drive for my PS3 and ended up accidentally wiping about 2 years of EVERYTHING from the HDD. First came the horror, then the tears. My God, the tears...
  • Thequestion 121 - October 28, 2011 10:43 p.m.

    The scariest moments I've had in a video game was when i first played though the Ravenholm section of Half Life 2. The atmosphere immediately took me and I was constantly jumping every time I encountered crab-heads, the zombies, and especially the god damn leaping ones! I was so glad when I was done with the section lol
  • Jared117 - October 28, 2011 9:25 p.m.

    That fatal frame video is one of the funniest things i've ever seen. I'm crying right now from laughing so hard
  • HankVenture - October 28, 2011 8:58 p.m.

    Mine would have to be one of the Resident Evil games. I don't know exactly which one because I didn't own a console and wasn't into gaming back when I played it, my brothers friend brought his playstation and the game over. I started to play it halfway into the game and was just scared shi*less. Walking down a hallway with doors on my right and windows on my left, just slowly creepy because I was terrified of something jumping out to grab me. and when something did grab me I jumped and threw down the control and declared that I would never play a Resident Evil again and I haven't since then. ps. so the editors can say sh** but I can't?!
  • stevethetree - October 28, 2011 5:46 p.m.

    It's not exactly scary, but the cougars in Red Dead Redemption still startle the crap out of me. Hm, I know I can think of a better example than that... oh well.
  • SDHoneymonster - October 28, 2011 4:25 p.m.

    Also, I can't be the only person who finds Demon's Souls scary, surely? Not just the difficulty, but the whole atmosphere just gets to me. The first section of the Tower of Latria especially, with all the torture chambers and tentacly buggers, was as creepy as anything I've played.
  • SDHoneymonster - October 28, 2011 4:21 p.m.

    I thought the first encounter with the Spider Splicers in Bioshock was terrifying - their heckling from the shadows and the screams as they come for you, armed with your camera, was pretty hairy. The twitchers in Dead Space too were pretty nasty - I thought that whole section of the game did a really good job of actually being scary again after you got used to it all.
  • Overlord153 - October 28, 2011 3:08 p.m.

    The first time I got scared was a strange one. I was playing a Fallout game for the first time. Didn't have a clue what to expect. Then I saw this thing out in the distance. Naturally my first thought was to shoot it in VATS. But when it zoomed in on the thing my skin crawled. The sad part was.... it was a f*cking bloatfly. That thing terrifies me for some reason. Cazadores too. Also I seen some go walk outside a door and 3 giant radscropions were just waiting for him. That made me exit every door in 3rd person.
  • Overlord153 - October 28, 2011 4:03 p.m.

    After reading through most of the comments it made me remember a game called Eversion. I paid no attention to the H.P Lovecraft quote because at the beginning it was so happy. Jesus that game gave me nightmares and i wasn't even the one playing it. Also Centaurs are some of the freakiest things I have ever seen.
  • FrozenImplosion - October 28, 2011 2:58 p.m.

    There are a couple moments that came to mind when I saw the title. The first one was actually already mentioned: the Bioshock 1 dentist scare. That scared the crap out of me the first time! The second one is in Dead Space, you come into a new room with a workbench (at which you can upgrade weapons) so I go to the bench and upgrade my stuff, and IMMEDIATELY upon exiting the workbench screen there is a necropmorph down your throat. It's scripted of course, but organically scared the crap out of me nonetheless. Third one is definitely the Condemned 1 mannequin part. Actually, all of Condemned 1 and 2.