The only way surprise works is if nobody can ever expect it. I can say the same thing with our media where they treat it as if it’s for anyone, but when you witness a shift of tone, it shocks you. You couldn’t believe that they pull out a horror aspect that nobody could expect. It happened to me many times before where i get myself a video game, not knowing what to expect and surely enough there were aspects where I was left scared. I agree that it has to be categorized as a horror game if there’s horror throughout the game, so I do allow non-horror games to have some frightening moments for gigantic surprise since I am a fan of good horror games. So these are the games that we would never imagine being scary for the first time but yet it got us good!
Number 10. – Donkey Kong 64
Rareware had balls. Really, they tricked all of us in believing that they’re developers who make the best kid’s games and yet in the N64 year, they showed their colors. I think Donkey Kong 64 was the door opening to see who they really are because I never expected Donkey Kong 64 to be so frightening. I mean, the original Donkey Kong trilogy were a part of my childhood and I was so eager to play their installment on the Nintendo 64. But I wasn’t prepared for so many tone shifts to unsettling moments like walking to King K. Rool’s ship, witnessing Mad Jack in the toy factory, the night time of fungi forrest, and even the entire level of Creepy Castle. It took me a while as a child to actually become brave enough to play this game, but this game really did gave me an impression that felt so huge and yet so intimidating.
Number 9. – Fallout: New Vegas
In a nuclear wasteland, anything is possible. And I mean anything! You got citizens that lost sanity, monsters that are unbelievably scary, and even sections of the wasteland that feels like hell. Not to mention that there are violence and gore that corrupted the entire land and without warning I was greeted by mutilated corpses, bags of body parts, and the occasional obviously used tool of torture. Definitely Fallout 3 is certainly one of the more unsettling experiences I’ve had in a game. Yet, Fallout: New Vegas out did itself in the horror category. It’s more of an enhanced version of Fallout 3 (I do like Fallout 3 more than Fallout: New Vegas), but when New Vegas was even more difficult than the last game facing anyone of the monsters were much harder than before. This makes enemy encounter so much more intimidating as any moment in your game you can easily die which really uplifts the horror that not even the Nuke Boy can save you completely. To even scare the player even more, try checking out DLCs like Lonesome Road and Old World Blues that is so imaginative that it’s scary. For the fact that there isn’t anything safe and at any moment you can easily die is what get me really on edge with a title like Fallout: New Vegas.
Number 8. – Metroid Fusion
It should be no surprise that the Metroid series will always have an unsettling moment. It goes all the way back to Super Metroid on the Super Nintendo that gives players goosebumps whenever they see the opening screen title. Still to this day, Metroid made each installment feel bigger than life where you feel so small when adventuring and witnessing the game’s world. But I can argue at the fact that Metroid Fusion is actually the most horrifying out of the entire series. I mean, the things Samus Aran had to go through to loose her Prime Suit from the unknown creature called “X” and ended up in a much weaker fusion suit made it a game of cat and mouse (you’re the mouse). Every single time you see X, you can’t help but to loose your shit and hope that he doesn’t find you. Everything in Metroid Fusion was just unsettling from start to finish.
Number 7. – Dreamfall: The Longest Journey
I really think that Dreamfall: The Longest Journey is really an underrated title where your expectations should be on the story and not on the gameplay. There are so many times where the game feels so light hearted and magical, but whenever there’s something wrong going on, it can really feel fucked up. Throughout the entire game, there are just so many surprises that makes you wish that you were more better at stealth games. Not to mention that the character designs in many of the creatures of arcadia is intimidating to watch. And don’t ever get me started on the monster who’s controlling and seeing every movement you’ve made since the first step of Zoe’s adventure. Seriously, what the fuck did I just saw? This game had a really epic and poetic storytelling that gave us an amazing shock value.
Number 6. – Thief: The Dark Project
The Thief series will always and I mean always make you feel on edge whenever you do stealth because when you get caught, all hope is lost. You can really instantly feel the unsettling atmosphere throughout the game that really can’t be compared. Sure I mean, SPOILER ALERT you lost your eye from the main villain but this last mission in Thief creeped me the hell out, It’s the mission The Sword, and when you make it to the upper floors things start getting freaky. Rooms turned upside down, super creepy looking demon paintings scattered all around, creepy ass little girl laughing in the background… Honestly, I jumped a couple times during this mission. For a game as old as this one to do that to me says a lot about it. The level design is ridiculous… there were quite a few optical illusions scattered about. At one point I thought my character was hallucinating so bad that when I first heard the guards I wasn’t sure if they were real or not. It really is one of the first moments of your character loosing his shit predating Amnesia: The Dark Decent END SPOILERS. All in all, don’t ever let a stealth game just be a game of stealth, it’s a genre that is filled with surprises in ways you can’t even imagine!
Number 5. – Manhunt 2
Now speaking of stealth games, how come nobody categorized this title as a horror game? Sure it’s a slasher flick… I mean game. I have my days of violence in video games to be just an everyday thing, but what makes Manhunt 2 just hard to watch is because the violence is too disturbing. I think disturbing is the key word when you look at manhunt 2 because these were the things I wanted to avoid seeing in movies and I never expected that a game could be so damn realistic that I got sick watching the kill sequences. I still can’t handle a game like this one because it really is beyond twisted. I never thought that I could be so squeamish, but Manhunt 2 really showed me otherwise. It’s remarkable that anything could give me such a reaction!
Number 4. – Metal Gear Solid
Before Metal Gear Solid became the biggest franchise that it now is, I distinctly remember playing Metal Gear Solid for the first time. I had no idea what a stealth game was or how to beat it, but every time when I get caught, it instantly made me jump out of my seat where enemy after enemy keeps coming after me and I didn’t know hot to get away. I didn’t get far, until one of my friends helped me to progress even further and to see how serious it was to top these terrorists from launching a nuclear strike really got me on edge. And then we have… Psycho Mantis. My lord, it was bar none, the first and only time where a video game character felt like he was real because he broke the forth wall by reading our memory card, see our progress of the game, and even vibrated our controller. Never did I felt so scared of a video game character in my life after all the nightmares Metal Gear Solid was throwing at us. And when you try to fight Psycho Mantis, he continues to break the forth wall by tricking the player that your console broke. I never felt so scared that I couldn’t play the game again for many years. This was more than a counter-terrorist action game (like how we all assumed at first) it was a groundbreaking achievement in video games that no other game could replicate.
Number 3. – Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
I always like to look at anyone as a liar when they say that Ocarina of Time didn’t at all scare them. Even in our first boss encounter that giant spider was too much for a child to play. I can count so many unsettling moments from the under the royal graveyard, to the future of the hyrule castle, zombies screaming at you when they see you & you remain paralyze, and even dead hand… fucking dead hand. The game just keeps jumping back and forth to being light hearted and adventurous to being so disturbing that we can’t even handle ourselves from shitting ourself. I still wonder why nobody has ever gone against Nintendo for giving this classic an Rated E for the ESRB rating system. An yet, this isn’t the scariest Legend of Zelda title…
Number 2. – The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
I’m surprised to all hell why nobody even accuse this game as being a horror game because it clearly is. This game is just so imaginative that its scary. I mean who could even thought of the moon that continuously stare right back at you, inside of the moon (seriously what the hell did I just witness there), transforming into a deku, the skull kids screams, the happy mask man, the death moths, the mask transformations, how you got the Zorra’s mask from a dead Zorra, every time when a day hits 12 AM it’s shows how much time you have left, and the last six hours apocalypse music when your time is running out, and so many more. I can honestly say that if this is not the scariest game, this should be the most unsettling game I’ve ever played and it’s the reason why it took me so long to beat it. Despite how I hate the time limit, the game sure does know how to use its tone to scare anyone!
Number 1. – The Path
I assure you, that this is a game that is so out of the ordinary that I can’t say it’s a video game; it’s a visual programmed nightmare come to life. It took the red riding hood fairy tale and asks you to keep walking on the path to Grandma’s house. I admit that when I first played it, the atmosphere was so unsettling that I had no choice but to walk to the path. But it turned out to be one of the shortest games I’ve ever played. But on my second playthrough, with so much curiosity, I needed to see what’s beyond the woods and surely enough, it became something I couldn’t describe. I mean the gothic soundtrack, the world you’re walking on, even everything surrounding you, the disturbing text the pops in occasionally, and even the unearthly sounds you keep hearing, it was too much for me. You can say that I’m cheating because everybody now calls it a horror game, but back when it was released it was called an art game. The fact that this game still leaves me puzzled on what the hell it supposed to be, is what keeps it scary and that’s the magic of it all! I never felt so scared, down-founded, and confused all at once and it’s a feeling that I would ever experience with anything else ever again.
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