Alexander Lucard: When you’re talking horror games, death scenes are a big part of the game. Whether it is the dramatic end of your arch enemy, or the hideous demise of the main character, a good death scene sticks with you forever and compels you to tell your friends about the game in question.
For me the best deaths in gaming didn’t come from a horror game, but from a fighting game. No, not Mortal Kombat. The fatalities in that were for wussies. I’m talking the exceptionally dark overkills from Eternal Champions. This Dark Water developed fighter for the Sega Genesis remains one of the best (and hardest) fighting games of all time. Each stage had a hidden death scene that could be triggered if the character was defeated in exactly the right spot. These deaths ranged from being electrocuted by a neon sign to being burned at the stake. My personal favorite was Slash’s overkill, where a hungry T-Rex would drag your downed opponent off screen and the return and devour him in front of your player. Gory, hilarious, and mind blowing to the young teenage me, as nothing had been done like that at this point in time. The second (and final) game in the series, Challenge From the Dark Side would feature even more death scenes such as cinekills, where the Dark Champion would slaughter your player, insta-deaths, which are self explanatory, and vendettas. Still, as awesome as these were, they didn’t have the same effect of the original game’s overkills, on either myself or the gaming public as a whole. The two I love best from the second game are Slash’s, where a pteradon takes your opponent and drops it into a volcano, and Shadow’s, where Godzilla steps on you.
Guy Desmarais: This could really be a single entry about the many death sequences in Phantasmagoria. First of all, I need to say that the game mentally scarred me as a child when I first played it on my old Pentium-powered computer. While going through the seven CDs that contained the game, I was witness to many scenes which should not be witnessed by an 11 year old, or at least by someone as wussy as I was.
– The one I remember most vividly is when the girl starts running away from the demon, which showed me why you should never turn your back on one of these beasts. After a while, the demon simply sticks his fingers in your eyes, pulls and splits your head apart. The eyes have been a sensible area for me ever since I’ve seen a kid nearly lose an eye to a hockey stick in elementary school, so that was pretty bad. Oh yeah, the fact that you could see brain matters for a split-second might have contributed to my trauma.
– A close second would be the flashback to the old man force-feeding entrails to his wife until she dies from suffocation or whatever happens when you get bloody innards pushed down your throat with a wood block. If the visual of a poor woman being killed like that wasn’t enough, the gurgling sound was sure to make you squeamish.
– If you ever played the game, you will remember that some time during the course of it all, you end up being tied to a chair by your boyfriend. Before I finally discovered that I needed to give him the snowman statue, I did one or two stupid things, like pulling on a chord. Which sends a huge blade swinging right into your character’s head. Ewww.
There was probably one or two more gruesome scene in that game, but my memory fails me. I remember one in a greenhouse, and by judging from the other demises encountered by the characters, I can only imagine something really bad happening, like a freak lawnmower incident or someone being impaled with a bonzai.
Mohammad: I’m going to go for the obvious choice and say Resident Evil 4, but not the very obvious chainsaw beheading one(though that’s pretty gruesome I guess). Instead I choose the creatures in the sewers of Salazar’s castle.
You’re only likely to fall for this death only once since these creatures aren’t widespread and you can break free from it unlike the chainsaw one. Some green bug thing drops from the ceiling, grabs Leon, and starts vomiting acidic bile onto his face, if you don’t shake him off, you’ll be treated to seeing Leon’s skinless face and his eyeballs hanging out his socket attached to his retina.
ML Kennedy: For me, the creepiest death is one that is nigh bloodless. In Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem there are these things called “bonethieves.” They are nasty little things with thin bodies and long pincers/talons. They are like praying mantises from hell.
How they kill you is as follows. They jump onto your character, burrow into your skin, and take control of your body. You stand there for a bit, before you realize that your game is over. The only way to fight them off is to wiggle the control stick like mad before they can finish crawling under your skin.
These things freak me out, and are murder on your character’s sanity. What’s worse is that they will occasionally pop out of the humans you kill.
Aileen Coe: Getting eaten alive must be one of the most painful and gruesome ways to die. In the first Clock Tower, if you’re trapped in the cage in the shed without any ham, the other occupant will pounce and make poor Jennifer his meal. You’re then treated to some lovely ripping, crunching, and slurping sound effects. And while it’s not a horror game, in Disgaea 2 you can get a similar scene (at least in terms of sound effects) if you get the worst ending with Japanese vocals enabled and wait until after the credits finish rolling. Hope you’re not eating anything while watching those scenes.
In both cases, the actual act of cannibalism isn’t shown. But the sound effects certainly paint a vivid enough picture. And in some ways, things left to the imagination can be scarier than those you see right before your eyes. But then, that depends on how much imagination you actually have.
Mark B: I’ve seen a lot of video game deaths, and many of them were of my own player character, so I can come up with a few.
Several of the death scenes in Haunting Ground absolutely sucked out loud, whether it was Debilitas killing you in such a fashion that it sounded like he was either raping you, rending you apart, or eating you, the Iron Maiden death scene, or any one the numerous others, all of them were pretty messed up, and kind of amusing if you’re a sick weirdo.
Shadowgate had an awesome death where you would fall to your demise… and the Reaper would be waiting on the ground to catch you. I always loved that, for some reason.
Many of the deaths in Resident Evil 4 (well, in Resident Evil in general, but the fourth one for this exercise) were outright horrible, including : being eaten by a giant fish, being rent asunder by a chainsaw, and having your head popped off by the swinging tendril of a beheaded villager. There were so many gory ways to die in that game that death was, in and of itself, almost entertaining enough to justify the amount of time you’d spend getting back to your present location from your last save.
Dead Space features several particularly horrendous deaths, including one where a tentacle monster thing drags you partially into its lair, then lets you go… only to grab your face and yank you in after all, which is not only a major “FOOLED YOU!” moment, but is also particularly effective at making the player jump.
Obscure 2, while not a particularly enjoyable game by any means, featured a rather gruesome death about halfway through the game (in a cutscene, sadly) where one of the giant monsters in the game smacked one character across the room onto a pole sticking out of the wall, then smashed the other one into the floor, complete with blood pouring down her face as she was being smashed flat. There were a few deaths in the game that were viscerally impressive, frankly, but that one set the tone for the rest of the game, largely because it was hard to believe they were going to start killing off player characters, let alone that they were going to do it A LOT.
Dark Seed, an obscure adventure game from the 90’s, didn’t so much feature gruesome death scenes as it did gruesome scenes in general, though your own demise was certainly well represented, thanks to H.R. Giger’s fantastic artwork. Now if only the game had been any good…
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Alexander Lucard was the Editor-in-Chief of Diehard GameFAN and Director of Operations for the InsidePulse network. He has since retired from writing, but clearly shows up now and again. He has worked in video game journalism since 2002 and was also a paid consultant for Konami and The Pokemon Company. Alex has previously written for Tips N Tricks, Gamespot, White Wolf, TSR, Wizards of the Coast, Eden Studios, 411mania, Not a True Ending and more. His writing could also be found in the monthly periodicals Massive Online Gamer and Pokemon Collector Magazine.