5. The Sims
It’s a hard-knock life for a Sim. Sure, you can’t get diseases (apart from… pregnancy?) and if you run out of money your own personal God can give you more, but said Gods are known for their cruelties just as much as their kindnesses. Kicking off this list is an old favourite: the phantom pool ladder. True horror is going for a leisurely swim and finding yourself trapped, totally unable to escape your watery tomb and simply waiting for your muscles to surrender to the inevitable pull of your chlorinated death by watery asphyxiation.
4. The Last of Us
Joel takes a hell of a beating throughout the torturously tragic narrative of Naughty Dog’s acclaimed masterpiece, but some things just can’t be endured. Fail to knock away a Clicker in time and the twitching funghoul (geddit?) will bury its teeth into Joel’s neck, coming away with a mouthful of mangled tendons and blood vessels as our hero screams his last. Worse still is the haunting knowledge of the fate that will befall his body.
3. Tomb Raider
Lara’s adventures have typically taken her to dangerous places, but it was only in 2013’s reboot that we began to see those perils for what they are. Throughout the game, various quick time events endanger our youthful protagonist, though none so grotesquely as a pit of jagged spikes towards the start of the game. Fail here and you’ll be punished with a scene of Lara clawing at a spike lodged through her face, her hands struggling and twitching as her face contorts in pain. Thank god for save states.
2. Resident Evil 4
Chances are you already know where I’m going with this. One burlap-clad resident of the game’s eerie starting area fights a little dirtier than the rest; far worse than the pitchforks and hatchets of the rest of los Ganados, Dr. Salvador fights with a chainsaw, and the only thing worse than its rusty screeching is the fountain of blood gushing out of Leon’s pretty white neck as his head is painstakingly bereaved from his shoulders. Once you’ve seen it, it stays with you; you learn to give the good doctor a wide berth from then on.
1. Dead Space
A game famous for its death scenes, Dead Space really takes the cake – or, more accurately, the entire head – with one entry. When damaged, the Divider necromorph will split into components, including the skull. Fail a quicktime event wherein the severed skull binds itself around Isaac’s neck, and you’ll get to see Isaac’s own head popped away like a dandelion before the Divider rams its tendrils down the bleeding stump, seizing control of Isaac’s still twitching body. A fate worse than death, some might argue. The only saving grace is that the intrepid engineer isn’t left alive to feel it.