The 10 Most Unpleasant Ways to Die in Horror Games
Horror games are closely linked to the concept of death, since dying is a natural thing to be afraid of. It doesn’t matter if you get eaten by zombies, stabbed by a psychopath or sacrificed by cultists, dying in a horror game is never a fun experience. Some deaths are a little more unpleasant than others, though, so today’s countdown is a homage to all the creative, horrifying or just plain hilarious demises in our favorite horror games.
As for the rules, the only important one is that it must be a specific way to kick the bucket that can be traced back to a single game. Also, keep in mind that deaths may affect both players and non-player characters and it may occur as part of the story. If this is the case, then I will warn for potential spoilers in the first sentence or so.
#10: NoonTech Diagnostic Machine – Dead Space 2
It’s never pleasant when we see somebody go for the eyes, they are soft and squishy, close to the brain and relatively easy to target. Dead Space 2 features a good example of an eye-gouging scene that is particularly difficult to watch, namely the Death Scene that occurs when the player fails to properly operate the NoonTech Dianostic Machine.
This machine, sometimes referred to as the “Eye Poke Machine” is used reach a part of the brain where knowledge of “the markers” is stored. To do this, a needle has to be inserted through a person’s ocular cavity (the little hole in your eye), which is of course a bit tricky. Isaac has to enter this machine himself at one point and, while he’s properly strapped in, it’s still very possible for everybody’s favorite engineer to panic, causing his eyes to start moving rapidly. Once this happens, using the needle properly becomes difficult, so chances are you might “miss”.
Not only will it ruin his eyesight in a rather gruesome manner, but it also looks like Isaac’s brain is getting whisked around a bit. The gory visuals combined with the fitting screams of agony make this a mandatory inclusion in all countdowns that deal with horrific cut-scenes.
“Alignment Compromised, Please Call Engineer.”
#9: Acid Water – Shadowgate
The classic adventure game Shadowgate offered a myriad of ways in which the player could die, going so far as to allow players to use their own sword, torches and other harmful equipment on themselves. However, one demise in this eerie title that stood out was in a garden just after the Fire Drake Room.
This tiny area has a fountain in it with a flute lying on the top. As you try to grab it, you’ll quickly learn that the water is acidic and repeated attempts to grab the flute will eventually kill you. If you wear the gauntlets, you’ll be safe from the burning fluid, but what happens if you drink it? Well, the game will just simply melt you from the inside, taunt you for a bit and then kick you back to the Death Screen.
#8: Schism – Silent Hill: Homecoming
This entry was recommended to me by ex-writer Nicholas Quiggle, but upon looking this enemy up, I quickly agreed with him that it deserved a place on this lovely list.
The Schism from Silent Hill: Homecoming is an enemy that protagonist Alex Shepherd first encounters in Shepherd’s Glen Police Station. It’s a humanoid enemy whose most distinctive feature is its stretched-out head that is shaped like a pendulum. If Alex is grabbed by The Schism, the player has to quickly tap a button in order to kick the monster away, but if he or she fails to do so, The Schism will swing his head around and cut Alex in half. He will then show off the two pieces victoriously while Alex gurgles up his last few breaths.
The fact that the game allows you to see Alex suffer for a few seconds is actually a nice touch, as it gives you some time to let the shock sink in. It also allows you to realize that if you hit continue, you will have to face this torso-hungry creature again and possibly undergo the exact same fate once more.
#7: Reckless Swapping – The Swapper
The Swapper is a puzzle game that was released by Facepalm Games last year and will soon arrive on the Playstation 3, 4 and Vita. It takes place on a derelict space station and involves puzzles built around a tool that allows you to create up to four clones of yourself.
The game has a very thick atmosphere that emphasizes loneliness and whereas I liked the Schism’s kill animation for its brutality and gore, I like The Swapper’s deaths for their calm and unspectacular nature. Most of these deaths occur as a result of getting confused about which clone you are currently controlling, causing you to walk off high ledges or triggering traps that crush you instantly. Now you are dead, alone and forgotten, nobody around to acknowledge your demise and nobody who will ever care, aside from the local population of psychic rocks who probably think you were a loser anyway. The best you can hope for is that your suit breaks and the air leaks out, so that your death was at least mildly interesting.
#6: The Spider – Limbo
The Spider is, by far, the most memorable part about Limbo and therefore I recommend skipping ahead if you still need to play it. The first time you encounter the spider, it is just sort of chilling and is so disinterested in you that it won’t even budge from its place until you’ve severed three of its legs. After that, it will finally chase you around a few times and at one point even capture you in a web. If, during any of these chase scenes it catches up to you, it will violently impale you with its feet and presumably eat you sometime off-screen. In some cases, it won’t even give you that honor and simply hurl your lifeless corpse away.
It would have been a fine entry on its own, but this actually a double entry, because the spider herself meets with a particularly nasty end too. Through your efforts, you slowly but surely relieve her off all her legs, all of which cause a flow of juicy blood to pour out while the arachnid recoils in pain. You also drop a boulder on her at one point, breaking off even more of the poor critter’s limbs. By the end of the lengthy encounter with her, she will pathetically stab at you with her last remaining leg, unable to defend herself as you tear it off with your own two hands and then roll her spherical body into some spikes to serve as a platform.
No matter who draws the short stick in this encounter, both deaths are equally painful and help to reinforce Limbo’s brutal world where death is always lurking around every corner and nobody will show you any mercy.
#5: Alma’s Love – F.E.A.R. franchise
There are many entities in the F.E.A.R. universe that want to kill you, ranging from amazingly-dedicated security guards to monstrous manifestations of a little girl’s bad memories of her father. However, credit has to be given to Alma Wade, the original antagonist, who frequently murdered the player and their allies in the name of love.
Nearing the end of the original game, Alma is finally released from her prison in the Origin facility and reveals to the player that, spoiler alert, Point Man was her son all along. From that point onward, she will start to physically appear before the player in an attempt to kill them, but not by slashing their bellies open or destroying their mind with psychic powers, but by… hugging them. Indeed, after revealing where Point Man comes from, Alma simply wishes for her son to love her, though this will lead to a Game Over all the same.
In F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin, Alma is still alive and has set her eyes on a new target: player character Michael Beckett. Once again, Alma is not interested in physically harming our hero, oftentimes even helping him by killing foes or leading the way to objectives. Sometimes her emotions get the better of her, though, and she “impulsively throws herself at him”, as the Wiki describes it. This forces the player to perform a QTE or be, once again, loved to death.
#4: Lawnmower – Lucius
This segment contains a spoiler for one of the easier chapters of Lucius, which is a horror game in which you play as the son of the devil that was released in 2012 and just so happens to be the first game I ever reviewed for this site. I am feeling so nostalgic right now.
It was difficult to pick just one nasty death from this gruesome title, but in the end I settled for the poor fate that befell Antonio in Chapter 9. It’s a shame that the puzzle itself is rather easy: Antonio is busy mowing the lawn, managing to stay cheery despite half of the household having died in horrendous ways over the past few weeks, and you have to kill him. By dropping a rock in his path you can break his lawnmower, whereupon he will attempt to repair it. At that point all you have to do is use telekinesis to start the machine again and take over his mind so that he sticks his head into the moving blades.
It’s just as the title of this chapter says “Grass is always red on this side.”
#3: Moving vines – Waxworks
Waxworks is famous for the many gruesome ways in which it will try to kill you and the unique Game Over screens it has for almost every one of them. My favorite level from this point & click title has always been the mines, in which you must venture into a tunnel to stop your brother who has mutated into a giant plant monster and rescue the surviving workers while you are at it.
While almost every Death Screen is nasty in this chapter and it uses molten flesh as a recurring theme, my favorite has to be the “moving vines”, which is one of the few animated scenes in the game. These vines appear frequently throughout the caves and you can burn them away with your mighty weedkiller. If you get too close, however, the vines will grab you and literally pull you apart, leaving only a mutilated body with pieces of shredded flesh and broken bones for you to admire until you are ready to try again.
#2: Watanagashi-hen/Meakashi-hen – Higurashi
Again we delve slightly into spoiler territory, this time involving the second question arc for the visual novel Higurashi: No Naku Koro Ni and the corresponding answer arc from Higurashi: No Naku Koro Ni Kai, though I will be focusing mainly on the way the scene was portrayed in the anime, which is my preferred version of this story.
This particular arc focuses heavily on the two sisters Shion and Mion Sonozaki, who are members of an influential family in the town of Hinamizawa. As is so often the case in Higurashi, most of the cast ends up dead as the arc progresses, but near the finale we find protagonist Keiichi Maebara tied to a table while one of the Sonozaki sisters threatens to torture him by pounding nails into all of his finger joints. The scene is interrupted and Keiichi is knocked out, but he runs into her again the next night and is promptly stabbed in the stomach. This lands him at a hospital where she finally appears with a new set of nails and a good hammer to finish the job once and for all.
While it cuts away just before the first nail hits, episode 9 offers a brief shot of a landlord and his tenant finding Keiichi’s body, which is mangled, cut open, devoid of color and pounded full of oversized nails.
#1: Man-Eating Music Box – Trapt
Hard as I tried, it was impossible to come up with deaths that are more unpleasant than those in a franchise all about setting up deathly traps for your foes. If the regular variety of iron maidens, giant boulders, bear traps and spear walls aren’t enough for you, then Trapt also contains a number of “dark illusions” for you to discover, one of which is the legendary man-eating music box.
By luring or trapping somebody unto the carpet of the entry hall and using another trap to strike the candle next to the right staircase, you will cause a device to shoot out of the wall and grab your unfortunate victim. He or she will then be dragged into the wall where the innards of the giant clock reside, meaning they are trapped between the cogs and slowly crushed upwards through the machine while creepy music plays in the background. With one final note, they are then spat out of the clock and land on the floor.
This entire process does a ridiculous amount of damage that is amplified by whatever you were able to inflict when getting them on the carpet, meaning most foes are unlikely to survive an encounter with this carnivorous device.
And with that, the list has come to an end. While it would be amazing if my picks were exactly the same as yours, I very much doubt this will be the case, so feel free to share your own in the comments below.