Horror is one of the most popular video game genres out there and, whether you like it or not, some of the best experiences you can have in video games is playing a horror video game. The use of tense atmosphere, disturbing images, dark passages and scary monsters is an effective way to keep players in their seats.
However, in some cases these elements can appear in non-horror games and they still can scare the living daylights out of you. Today we are going to talk about missions or levels that are really scary that aren’t part of a horror video game, let’s begin!
10. Xenoresearch Labs – Metroid Prime 3: Corruption
Although the titular Metroids are very common enemies, they are still very disturbing. This is even more true in this level because the game combines this unsettling atmosphere with a more “horror” approach.
On the way into the Xenoresearch Labs, you suffer a lot of jump scares throughout the level, however, the worst part is soon to come: In order to progress, you have to disable the power and also acquire the Seeker Missile, and by disabling the power I mean that you, indirectly, have to free every single one Metroid and fight back in the darkness.
9. The Nightmares – Max Payne
Rockstar Games’ Max Payne is probably the most action noir third person shooter video game ever made, so you normally expect gunfights and a lot of drama, right? Well, in some instances the first game makes you play some prologues that take a more psychological approach that can easily scare you.
These prologues are Max Payne’s nightmares about his family’s murder, and these nightmares are full of dark environments, haunting voices, and unsettling mazes. These nightmares received acclaim and currently are considered some of Max Payne’s most memorable moments by many critics and players.
8. The Sorrow’s Boss Fight – Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
Everybody knows that Metal Gear Solid is a franchise is about espionage with some weird characters with super powers. Now, in Metal Gear Solid 3 you have to fight against one of the most loved and remembered bosses in the franchise: The Sorrow. What makes this fight so scary? Well, if you have killed every single soldier in your path, The Sorrow will jump scare you with them.
Along with the gloomy soundtrack and dark atmosphere, is one of the most memorable moments of this game. If you didn’t kill anyone then good for you, but if you went into Rambo mode, I have some bad news for you.
7. The Derelict Reaper – Mass Effect 2
The Mass Effect saga always included cosmic horror in the Reapers, but we still can’t call this game terrifying. But this cosmic horror is more present in the “Derelict Reaper IFF” mission, probably the scariest level in the whole Mass Effect franchise.
This level consists of enclosed corridors which make the level even more tense because a swarm of Husks can appear out of nowhere to melee you to death. Also, you must listen some recordings of the Derelict Reaper’s crew where you can hear when they lose their identities.
6. Joker’s Nightmare – Batman: Arkham Knight
When you think about the scariest moments you think of the Man-Bat’s jump scare and the Scarecrow level, right? Well, Arkham Knight has another specific moment that is really scary. It involves The Scarecrow, and that moment is when he injects his toxins into Batman and you suddenly control The Joker.
The game changes to first-person perspective and you are inside a strange world that scares both The Joker and you. The Arkham series usually flirts with the horror genre but this moment is by far the scariest one in the franchise.
5. The Ghost Haunts at Midnight – Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines
Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines is a game that has obviously some horror influences, but it is way more focused on RPG elements, explorations, and other things rather than scaring you all the time. However, this is thrown out of the window in the Ocean House Hotel level called “The Ghost Haunts at Midnight”.
Despite there isn’t a single enemy in this level, this is the most threatening level in the whole game as you feel powerless even with your abilities because of the many ghosts that will haunt you throughout the level. You’ll find Poltergeists, jump scares, bizarre imagery, and many other things.
4. Bottom of the Well – The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Imagine being a kid and having your first playthrough of this game and then you decide to enter for the first time to enter to the Kakariko Well. You will experience one of the first scary moments in your life because that “happy” atmosphere will change to a dark and gloomy one.
Torture chambers, undead enemies, and the tense atmosphere can freak out every kid in the world, and is one of the many reasons why people didn’t beat Ocarina of Time when they were really young. The imagery, the soundtrack, the enemies… This dungeon was so well made that is one of the most remembered ones.
3. 343 Guilty Spark – Halo: Combat Evolved
Halo: Combat Evolved is one of the best shooters ever made and a science-fiction classic. In the game you control a near-unstoppable soldier called Master Chief who must fight the dangerous Covenant in action-fueled levels with no horror influences, right?
This changes in the iconic mission “343 Guilty Spark” where the game takes you to a desolate swamp with no almost no enemies in the first part of the mission while you already know that something is wrong. In the second part, the Flood appears and turns the mission in a terrifying and desperate attempt of survival.
2. We Don’t Go to Ravenholm – Half-Life 2
Half-Life 2 is a masterpiece to the core and while the game shies away from the survival horror genre, the infamous but highly acclaimed “We Don’t Go to Ravenholm” level makes you feel like you are playing a completely different video game. Ravenholm is a ghost town that was devastated due to a Combine attack and almost everyone in the town turned into Headcrab Zombies.
The presence of this zombies and Headcrabs make this level extremely tense and many players had a hard time while playing this mission. The atmosphere of a cannibalized town and the constant moans of agony make this mission the most famous.
1. Robbing the Cradle – Thief: Deadly Shadows
Thief was the quintessential stealth video game franchise before Splinter Cell, and despite the game used dark atmospheres and gothic aesthetics, Thief was never a horror game. That changes completely in the universally acclaimed level called “Robbing the Cradle”, where you must enter a haunted asylum called Shalebridge Cradle.
This level is considered by many gamers, critics, and people with experience in games like Silent Hill and Fatal Frame, as the scariest level in the history of video games despite not being in a horror game. “Robbing the Cradle” is a unique experience and you must play this level to understand the true horror inside the cradle.