Dying or losing in video games is part and parcel of the experience and accepted as an occupational hazard. However, certain games take the concept a little too far and think up game over scenes seemingly extracted directly from our most twisted and upsetting nightmares. These are sometimes enough to spark the fear of god in even the most mentally resolute gamer out there and gets us to question why developers would add them to their games in the first place. Here are 8 game over scenes that will give you nightmares.
Don’t get us wrong the Fallout series is among our favorites, but harking back to the days of Bethesda first foray into post-nuclear war vault survival with Fallout 1, we gingerly reminisce about the disturbing game over scene. Having just been killed by a ravenous mutant or a hail of gunfire, we don’t really need reminding that our death leads to the slow decomposition of our flesh into a skeleton petrified in the last throes of pure agony to then be scorched by the sun and radiation. Bethesda does just that and adds on a string of dialogue, which still haunts some us to this day, ‘Your bones are scraped clean by the desolate wind. Your Vault will now surely die… as you have…’ or this lovely gem ‘The radiation has taken its toll. Your death was lingering and extremely painful. Your adventure is done…’
The Last of Us
In the case of The Last of Us, the old adage ‘less is more’ rings truer than ever. Upon getting bitten by a zombie or fired upon, Joel emits groans of pains and as he falls to his certain death, the game cuts to a black screen with a short, but piercing high scream wail. A multitude of death animations ranging from neck snapping to head stomping mean we get a glimpse of unadulterated brutality, but only for a few short seconds. It’s all so matter of fact, straight to the point, and unceremonious. By using the power of suggestion, the game allows our minds to run wild conjuring up what happens next.
Dead Space is a sci-fi horror fest, a masterpiece of relentless unsettling psychological taunts and that’s without even witnessing the death animations. They last for what seems like forever and portray in unnerving detail the successive deaths of lead character Isaac Clarke. Unlike The Last of Us, which cuts short the death scenes, Dead Space is death in all its gruesome messiness and given we are contending with an array of terrifying alien mutants, each offers up a different, yet equally disturbing, cause of death from decapitation, strangulation, impalement, being jabbed straight in the eye with a laser-guided drill…we could go on.
We aren’t going to beat about the bush with this one; the game over screen in Ninja Gaiden is straight up emotional manipulation of the worst kind. By matching the arcade countdown to a slowly descending thick-toothed saw on a trajectory with protagonist Ryu Hayabusha’s chest, we are duped into inserting more coins to save our hero from a gruesome death. You’d be a monster to not keep playing and save him, which is exactly the point. Terrible.
A game about building and managing a family friendly theme park where lifelong memories are made and children can frolic around mirthfully, right? Well, to a certain extent, unless you get yourself into irretrievable amounts of debt and trigger the game over scene in Theme Park. A desk, a family portrait, what appear to be unpaid bills, and a reflection. Look closer and it’s a man jumping from a high ledge, effectively resorting to ending his own life in the face of his failure. Heavy enough for you? This ending was, however, only available on the console versions of Theme Park. The PC version depicted the same scene, but animated and we clearly see the owner jump before he catches himself on the ledge, presumably to have another crack at the theme park business.
X-Com – UFO Defense
Die in X-Com – UFO Defense and you accumulate quite the rap sheet: the demise of most of the human race, destruction of the earth’s environment, seas and air, mutated survivors suffering terribly, alien overlords taking over and destroying all cities, slave camps, loss of valuable X-Com Project research, and presumably your own death. All this depicted through a series of still image screens framed by an eerie chip tune soundtrack. And it goes on for near enough a minute to really let it sink in. It’s rough. I mean yeah we messed up, but come on, that’s all a bit much. If a game has ever made a player not want to lose, then X-Com – UFO Defense is surely it.
Resident Evil Series
There’s nothing quite like being served such a matter of fact reminder of your own virtual failings than Resident Evil’s iconic ‘You are dead’ or ‘You Died’. Yes, thank you for pointing out the bleedingly obvious and rubbing it in with every single game. The power of repetition cannot be understated in creating nightmares.
PS2 Red Screen of Death
Not technically a game, but even more terrifying than any in-game death screen, is the fabled PlayStation 2 Red Screen of Death (yes, it is definitely written in capitals), or put more pragmatically the effective death of the console. The taunting red vortex was the harbinger of real life consequences and the end of hours of fun. The bane of many a child at the time, the Red Screen of Death still sends shivers down the spine of many a gamer.