Not only is it October, it’s Friday the 13th. Let’s get unnecessarily spooked!
Super Mario Sunshine – The Manta Storm
Starting this list off with something a little more wholesome is the first level from Super Mario Sunshine’s Sirena Beach. What should be your introduction to a beautiful sunset resort is immediately interrupted by pure nightmare fuel. After finding out from the hotel owner that the building has been completely submerged in goo, the beast returns from the ocean to continue its attack.
While not so scary in the traditional sense, the Manta boss still delivers a horrifying feeling of dread in a game known for its relaxing atmosphere. Only appearing as a huge silhouette gliding along the ground, every aspect of this boss is troubling. It leaves a trail of electrified goo in its wake, and attacking it only makes it split into smaller copies of itself. As the entire ground becomes its domain, its shrieks echo over the beach, making this fight stand out as uncharacteristically terrifying in an otherwise charming world.
Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune – The Bunker
With the first entry into the now famous Uncharted series, we had no idea what to expect. Supernatural twists are now a familiar part of Nathan Drake’s adventures, but in Drake’s Fortune, it was a horrifying surprise. Even now, no other supernatural monsters in the series come close to being as frightening as the Descendants.
Unveiled to be the inbred descendants of Spanish colonists that were infected by a virus carried by El Dorado (the first Uncharted was weird), the sudden appearance of these monsters entirely change the game from an Indiana Jones adventure to survival horror.
As Nate travels into an abandoned decrepit bunker, these zombie-like monsters suddenly start attacking from out of the darkness like Resident Evil. That is, before he accidentally triggers an alarm, alerting the whole swarm to his presence…
Halo: Combat Evolved – The Flood
For the majority of Halo: Combat Evolved, players were lead to believe humanity’s only fight was against the alien Covenant. Humans vs. aliens is the backbone of sci-fi gaming, and we had no reason to expect anything else from the yet unproved Halo series. Until the appearance of the Flood.
343 Guilty Spark, the sixth level of Combat Evolved plays like something straight out of a horror movie. After a team of marines disappears in a facility located deep in the swamps of the mysterious and ancient Halo ring, Master Chief heads in to rescue them.
What had previously been a Starship Troopers-esque fight against sometimes comical aliens, takes a fast dive into creepy territory. Finding only blood and bodies of both marines and Covenant, the Chief finally finds a video recording of the last moments of the missing squad. It’s then that players witness the horrors of the Flood, parasitic abominations that kill and corrupt everything in their path, like an extraterrestrial zombie plague.
And as soon as Master Chief finishes watching this footage of his comrades being overrun by the Flood, they come for him too.
Batman: Arkham Asylum – The Morgue
The Batman: Arkham series is known for portraying the Caped Crusader at his dark and grittiest. While the series has plenty of shockingly grim imagery and characters, players were given a first look into how horrifying it could get with the first appearance of Scarecrow.
After travelling further into belly of Arkham Asylum, Batman finds the body of his ally and friend, commissioner Gordon. Without time for mourning, he’s pulled into Scarecrow’s fear toxin hallucinations, as the walls of the asylum become covered in bugs. The morgue begins to echo with ghostly whispers, and the doors violently slam.
Unable to escape, Batman is faced with the corpses of his own parents, tormenting him for his inability to save them. Suddenly a third body appears, and Batman slowly unzips it… only for the Scarecrow to surge up and pull him deeper into his hellscape.
Dark Souls 3 – Irithyll Dungeon
The Dark Souls series has always had one foot in the horror genre. Its decaying world full of tragic characters and monsters has always left a feeling of despondence. And while there are numerous instances of genuine fear, Irithyll Dungeon from Dark Souls 3 is both creepy in atmosphere and full of genuine frights.
Despite the main area of Irithyll of the Boreal Valley being one of the prettiest sights in all of Dark Souls, its dungeons are anything but. The area is shrouded in darkness, and mazelike in design with twisting passages and locked doors. Jailers patrol the area, sapping your health with their lanterns and branding anyone who approaches them.
Even more gruesome are the Wretches imprisoned in the cells, twisted failed experiments locked away to suffer eternally. If the oppressive dungeon and its gruesome denizens weren’t enough to send a shiver up your spine, the corpse jump scares will.
Half-Life 2 – Ravenholm
Ravenholm is infamous for suddenly shifting Half-Life 2 into survival horror, and may have been the inspiration for other similar moments on this list as well. In retrospect it may not be the most terrifying level of all time, but it’s originality is worthy of admiration.
After being separated from his companions during a Combine raid, Gordon Freeman is forced to travel through Ravenholm, the area he was explicitly warned to avoid. Once a mining town, Ravenholm had now become overrun with zombies and the parasite headcrabs. With blood splashed across the city streets, players must make their way through the abandoned roads and buildings utilizing sawblades and traps to avoid its now zombified citizens.
Worse than all however is the appearance of new extremely deadly poison headcrabs, turning the already catastrophic city into a truly frightening experience.
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess – The Dream Sequence
Twilight Princess is recognised for its edgier, more mature take on The Legend of Zelda series. With its creepier enemy design and ominous atmosphere, it’s full of plenty of random moments of horror. One moment stands above all however, as something so truly out of place and nightmarish, it remains a highlight of the whole game.
For restoring power to the light spirit Lanayru, Link is given a vision of the past and a warning for the future. And it’s just… well it’s something that has to be seen to be believed.
… Yeah. After that disturbing cutscene, players are sent back on their merry way to continue their fun adventure. As if they hadn’t just undergone the death of their innocence. Thanks Nintendo, you gave us our childhood and then ripped it away from us. Enjoy your confusing sense of existential dread.