Even a Non-Horror Game Can be Scary

Not every iconic moment of gaming horror has come from a horror game. Some of the most memorable frights have come from non-horror games. The final entry of this years Horror Game Icon is going to take an unorthodox approach by looking at the many times a non-horror title left a frighting impression on us.

This list will exclude fantasy and science fiction titles (like Fallout and Mass Effect) as they do share some elements of the horror genre. Also excluded will be the White Phosphorus moment in Spec Ops: The Line as we have an entire Horror Game Icon segment dedicated to that game alone.

As the season of fear comes to an end, let us look back at the five most iconic horror moments from non-horror games.

Far Cry 5 Horror Moments in Non-Horror Games 8Bit/Digi

5. The Bliss (Far Cry 5)

The fifth game in the series follows a rookie deputy as they try to liberate their community from the Project at Eden’s Gate cult. At numerous times, the Deputy will come under the control of the cult leader (John, Jacob and Faith Seed). This is thanks to a hallucinogen dubbed “The Bliss”. Depending on the cult leader, these moments could be an escape or an attempt to break the players will. Regardless, it’s a nightmare the makes the player unsure of their environment and reality.

Max Payne Horror Moments in Non-Horror Games 8Bit/Digi

4. Prologue to A Cold Day in Hell (Max Payne)

Max Payne follows the titular character (an undercover cop framed for murder) as he takes out a major drug operation. At the end of the first chapter, Max is knocked out by Monna Sax. It’s at this point that he becomes tormented by the death of his family in a drug fueled dream. Max starts in his family home and forced to relive the worst day of his life while also having to cross a trail of blood in a dark room.

Never mind how frustrating the level is (rage quit will happened). The eerie atmosphere and having to re-experience one of the darkest moments of the game in a drug fueled moment showcases why Max Payne is not a generic action game. These are the moments that have solidified the series as a staple of the Neo-Noir genre.

Hitman Contracts Horror Moments in Non-Horror Games 8Bit/Digi

3. The Meat King’s Party (Hitman: Contacts)

The third entry in the stealth action series was also one of the darkest ones. The second mission has Mr. 47 infiltrate a BDSM party being hosted at a meat processing factory. The client believes his daughter was kidnapped by Campbell Sturrock (better known as the Meat King). 47 is tasked with taking him out and rescue the clients daughter (if possible).

The setting alone is not why this mission made the list. The moment of terror is when you find the clients daughter. She is located in a dimly lit room that is decorated with distributing messages and blood splatter. The clients daughter is strung up and mutilated while her eyes have been gouged. Adding to an already disturbing moment is the encounter with the real killer.

For a professional assassin like Mr. 47, this just another job. For fans of the series, it’s nothing they have encountered before.

2. The Sorrow (Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater)

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater is hailed as one of the defining games of the PlayStation 2 and the best in the series. Hideo Kojim takes players to the Cold War (circa 1960’s) as a CIA agent (codnamed Snake) must prevent the two powers from going to war. During the mission, Snake will be put to the ultimate test and will emerge as the legendary Big Boss.

During the mission, Snake has an encounter with The Sorrow (the Cobra Units spirit medium). Snake will walk down a river while having to face everyone he has killed during both the Virtues Mission and Operation Snake Eater. At the end, Snake is hit by a powerful psychic blast that awakes him (revealing the encounter to be just a dream).

Unlike the other boss encounters, this is less of a battle and more of having to face the consequences of your actions. Players are reminded that violence is an option. Thus you are forced to face the people you killed as punishment for your poor actions. Making this an unforgettable moment.

No Russian Call of Duty 8Bit/Digi

1. No Russian (Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2)

Terrorism and mass shootings is something we all live in fear of on a daily basis. The horrors of what such an event will feel like were captured in one of the most controversial moments in gaming. “No Russian” has players take on the role of Joseph Allen (having infiltrated Vladimir Makarov network) as he participates in a terrorist attack on the Zakhaev International Airport.

Gunning down waves of unarmed people is nothing new to those of us who played Grand Theft Auto III. What made this moment stand out is the attention to the emotional details during the massacre. The sound of people trying to flee in terror or suffering really hits you. Meanwhile, the player just walks straight in the massacre giving a silent glare as if they are Michael Myers (no compassion, no remorse). The sight of watching victims pleading for their lives added a layer of terror to this moment.

It has been 11 years since it was released and this moment still ranks as one of the most controversial. The act along with the environment that is created is truly one of the most horrifying moment in a non-horror game.

Did you play any of these games or were there horror moments from non-horror games that were missed? Let us know in the comment section. Happy Halloween.

8Bit/Digi is an independent media outlet that provides an insight into the video game community and industry of the San Francisco Bay Area.

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  1. I’ve noticed a big difference in how I feel when playing No Russian now than I did back in high school. It really is a horrifying moment.

  2. The Bliss moments from Far Cry 5 were more played out than scary as every game since Far Cry 3 has had one of these drug trip moments.

  3. I remember the Meat King mission from Hitman but never found it to be all that scary. It just felt like a serial killer in a game about an assassin so no biggie.

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