The emotional range of games have come a long way; they can make us laugh, cry, and poop our pants in fright. Right now, we’re gonna focus on the last one.

[This post originally ran on December 21, 2015]

Unlike books or movies, you can’t turn the page or close your eyes and wait for the freaky part to pass you by. In games, you need to walk the character down the hall, fight the weird bug creature—do whatever’s needed to survive.

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Horror takes on many forms, whether it’s a jump scare or a creepy sequence catching you by surprise. 2015 wasn’t overflowing with horror games—though the ones we got were great—but we went “oh, shit!” plenty of times.

Since we’re talking about specific moments, there are SPOILERS ahead.

Such as…


The Unexpected Frights of Batman: Arkham Knight

[Thanks to Sommaa for the clip!]

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Though an unlikely place to find yourself screaming in fright, Rocksteady deployed the Joker and Man-Bat with a surprising effectiveness. The scares came often enough that you knew it was coming, but it was always a surprise.


Bloodborne’s Scary Bag Men Want to Kidnap You

[Thanks to seksan suwisuttigasame for the clip!]

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In a game full of unsettling imagery, these creeps win the prize. A heavy bag flung over their shoulder, they aren’t even part of the game at first! Later, they hide in weird and secluded corners, slowly walking forward before pouncing and, usually, killing you. Don’t get me started on where they take you when you die.


Every Minute From The Static Speaks My Name

It takes only 10 minutes to play The Static Speaks My Name, but if that’s too much, I walked through each unnerving step in a story earlier this year. The phrase “left me speechless” is played out, but in the final moments of The Static Speaks My Name, I was at a loss for words. Simple, to the point, and disturbing.


The First Time You Kill A ‘Person’ In SOMA

The underwater world of SOMA is in shambles—robotic shambles, specifically. As you dodge monsters and wander through the game’s aquatic world, you’ll occasionally find some of the facility’s remaining inhabitants tragically warped by H.R. Giger-esque machinery. In most cases, it’s up to you whether or not to pull the plug. Are they alive? Are they human? Should you be the one to decide?


Until Dawn’s Never-ending Parade of Jump Scares

Until Dawn was legitimately terrifying at times, but as a game pulling from horror’s book of cliches, it had no problem with a cheap stunt or two...or three...or four. The jump scares were frequent enough my wife and I shut the windows to our apartment, fearing people might think something was wrong!


A Monstrous Fallout 4 Boss Hiding In Plain Sight

There are secrets all over the wastelands of Fallout 4, including a massive super mutant named Swan. This isn’t a boss you encounter because it’s the end of the level; instead, Swan is hanging out in a lake, waiting for unsuspecting surface dwellers to come by. Patricia wrote all about her harrowing encounter with it.

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You can reach the author of this post at patrick.klepek@kotaku.com or on Twitter at @patrickklepek.