The Most Memorable Moments In Horror Gaming History

Due to the interactivity of the medium, video games have arguably produced some of the most creative, scariest and at times, heartbreaking moments in all the horror genre. Horror series like Resident Evil, Doom and even The Last of Us have not only carved out a name for themselves in horror gaming, but within our cultural consciousness as well.



Related: Best Video Game Horror Series Of All Time

Whether through a horrifically designed monster in a terrifyingly rendered location, a perfectly executed jump scare, or a devastating and/or gory death scene, these moments have become ingrained in the brains of players around the world and have haunted them ever since.

10 Jump Scare Deaths – Five Nights At Freddy’s

Five Nights At Freddy's - Bonnie jumps and kills the player

Five Nights At Freddy’s has quickly become a powerhouse horror series amassing numerous sequels, as well as, comics, books and even a film. Although the game boasts distinctive character design, the series wouldn’t have found the success it has if it wasn’t for its jump scares.

As many gamers and YouTubers know all too well, whilst unsuccessfully watching over Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza at night, one of the many creepy animatronics will suddenly leap right at you whilst letting out a frightening screech. These scares are so abrupt in nature they never fail and have made Five Nights At Freddy’s the phenomenon it is today.

9 Pyramid Head’s First Appearance – Silent Hill 2

Silent Hill 2 - Pyramid Head assaults two Mannequins

Silent Hill 2 is universally regarded as the best game in the iconic survival horror series. The legendary game has been praised for its monster design, atmosphere, and its character driven plot, but arguably the most unforgettable element of the game is the bizarre and deeply unsettling debut of the series’ most iconic antagonist, Pyramid Head.

Playing as protagonist, James Sunderland, you’ll first spot Pyramid Head down a narrow corridor, staring ominously at you. Moments later, the infamous Cutscene will trigger in which the humanoid creature is seen violating two headless mannequins. Equally absurd as it is unnerving, this is a moment scared into the minds of gamers the world over and thus a horror icon was born.

8 Clementine’s Decision – TellTale’s The Walking Dead: Season 1

The Walking Dead - Clementine holding a gun

Most horror moments are memorable for being incredibly scary; however this isn’t the case with TellTale’s The Walking Dead series. The series does have its fair share of effectively scary moments, such as the Cannibal reveal in Starved For Help, but in a game focused on delivering players difficult choices, the best and most profound is left for last.

Related: Saddest Moments In Telltale’s The Walking Dead

You control Lee as he ensures Clementine survives in the apocalypse, so when it’s revealed that Lee has been bitten, many players were stunned. To make matters even worse, the series ends with player control shifting to Clementine as you’re given the choice to mercy kill Lee or leave him to turn into the undead.

7 The Mind Games – Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem

Eternal Darkness Sanity's Requiem - Alex holding a shotgun

Some horror games make you jump; some can make you cry, whilst others can creatively mess with your head like in the case of Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem. This horror game may have a great jump scare with the bathtub scene, but, what people remember about this game is how it plays on your sanity in an incredibly meta way.

The game features a ‘Sanity meter’ which, if it gets too low, will trigger ‘Sanity Effects’ that can range from strange noises and skewed camera angles, to faked error messages making you believe the game just crashed. This effect is so innovative and perfectly places you in the mind of the playable character, that it’s puzzling we haven’t seen more of this since.

6 Eye Surgery – Dead Space 2

Dead Space 2 - A needle approaches Isaac Clarke's eye

Throughout the Dead Space series, there have been numerous spine-chilling moments that have cemented it as a classic series in horror gaming, but its defining moment from doesn’t feature the series’ plethora of space aged monstrosities, but instead focuses on a true wince inducing form of surgery.

Related: Most Terrifying Things In Video Games That Aren’t Monsters

In this scene, you must carefully lower a needle directly into Issac Clarke’s pupil to activate critical information in his brain. The sound of Issac’s heart rate, as well as his constantly jolting eyeballs, ramp up the tension to excruciating levels. Also, should you miss the pupil, the needle will plunge into Issac’s skull in an extremely gruesome animation.

5 The Whole Game – P.T.

P.T. - Lisa stands in a narrow corridor

Possibly the most famous game that never was, Hideo Kojima’s playable teaser for Silent Hills blew everyone away and its loss is still felt by gamers to this day. The moreish first-person teaser sees you solving puzzles around a house whilst stalked by a ghostly apparition of a woman named Lisa.

Lisa’s sinister design, twitchy animation, as well as the revelation that she’s always behind you chilled fans to the bone. Complete with a fetus in a bathroom sink and a heart attack inducing jumpscare should Lisa kill you, P.T made a lasting impression so good it sadly was too good to be true.

4 Game Over – Slender: The Eight Pages

Slender The Eight Pages - Slender Man on a static screen

The notorious creepypasta made its gaming debut in 2012 with this first person survival title. The white faceless being dressed in a black suit carved its name into horror history with its simple yet effective design, but more importantly, with its death screen.

Should the Slender Man draw near and catch you, static gradually engulfs the screen, accompanied by audio distortion until eventually the Slender Man appears in close up and the screen cuts to black. Uniquely spooky, this death screen would play a large part in the birth of a classic indie horror series.

3 The Kaernk – Amnesia: The Dark Descent

Amnesia: The Dark Descent - The player avoiding the Kaernk

The survival horror series Amnesia debuted in 2010 with The Dark Descent and featured many monstrosities for you to avoid. Despite largely encountering the Gatherers, the Kaernk’s sections leave a more lasting impression in this milestone title.

Related: Scariest Monsters In The Amnesia Series

This invisible creature can only be seen through splashes in the shallow water it occupies and can only attack should you step foot in these waters. The creature’s lack of visibility makes these ‘the floor is lava’ sections incredibly nerve wrecking and the strategy needed to bypass the creature brought an interesting change of pace to this landmark horror game.

2 The Zombie Dog Jumpscare – Resident Evil

A dog bursts through a window in Resident Evil 1

No list of iconic horror moments in gaming is complete without Resident Evil. The series has plenty of industry leading antagonists such as Resident Evil 3’s Nemesis and Village’s Lady Dimitrescu, but the series most renowned moment has to be the zombie dog jumpscare from the original game.

You run down a hallway, only for a zombified canine to suddenly jump through a nearby window and attack you. Unsuspecting players will either run away or quickly dispose of the dog; however you’ll be met with yet another dog pouncing through a different window. Although dated today, in 1996, this moment scared gamers silly and has earned it the accolade of the most iconic jump scare in all of gaming.

1 Abby Gets Her Revenge – The Last Of Us Part 2

The Last Of Us Part 2 - Joel pinned down by Abby's group

There is no denying that Joel’s brutal demise early into The Last of Us Part 2 has instantly become a definitive moment, not only in horror gaming, but in the history of gaming itself. Gamers knew Joel would one day face consequences for his actions, but, this being said, no one expected it to come as soon or as brutally as it did.

Having finally hunted down Joel, after he killed her father at the close of the first game, Abby and her gang restrain him and Ellie as Abby proceeds to bludgeon Joel to death with a golf club, whilst Ellie helplessly watches on. Causing considerable backlash due to the beloved nature of Troy Baker’s character, Joel’s death was a genuine shock to everyone and a bitter pill many struggled to swallow.

Next: Best Retro Horror Games

Leave a Comment