10 of the scariest sounds in video games

In video games, well-crafted soundscapes and soundtracks can evoke an atmosphere of sheer anxiety-ridden terror. So much so that hearing those sounds again years later can still provoke the same sense of fear.

We’re celebrating October (the most Spookytacular month of the year) by recalling the video game sounds that still haunt our dreams. We’ve left off some obvious horror game choices like Silent Hill, Fatal Frame, and Amnesia, simply because the entire game’s soundtrack is designed to put players on edge. If your stomach drops and your heart skips a beat or two when reading some of these, then be rest assured you’re not the only one who’s suffering from aural post traumatic stress.

Thaddius’ pleading in the Naxxramas raid — World of Warcraft

Blizzard isn’t really known for horror, but some of their level and sound design still bring back painful memories of raid wipes and long nights. They took this to the next level with Naxxramas, a ghostly place where you get to hear this bone-chilling pleading followed by a demonic surrender to the darkness. “You are too late. I. Must. Obey.” Nope. No, thank you.

Spotted — Metal Gear Solid

In a game where stealth is everything and checkpoints are few and far in-between, there’s nothing like the panic that comes from hearing the alert sound and seeing the large, red exclamation mark over the guard you were just trying to get the jump on. There’s a reason why it was never changed. It became the hallmark indicator for when you know you’re in for a bad time.

Nuclear launch detected” — Starcraft

For RTS players, terror lies in dialogue, not soundtracks. When you hear this line, it means the race is on. You must try to find the Terran ghost before you get obliterated. In a fast-paced game like Starcraft, milliseconds matter. Talk about stress levels through the roof. 

Heartbeats — Dead by Daylight

A newcomer this year, Dead by Daylight has become a hit for those who want to blow off some steam by virtually killing their friends and hearing them scream as they’re placed on a hook. It may not be a traditional horror game, but as a survivor, the stress is on as you’re halfway through repairing a generator and hear the low, thumping heartbeat, signaling that the killer is nearby. Running will alert them but staying still could get you killed. No pressure.

Random battle encounter — Final Fantasy X

You’re low on potions. Your party is severely injured. You’re just hoping to get to the next checkpoint to heal and level up so you can proceed to the boss when, suddenly, the sound of glass shattering interrupts your calm determination and you’re forced to fight. Again. Abrupt and jarring, this definitely brings back some agonizing memories of very long nights. 

The ReDeadOcarina of Time

For a game that’s marketed as a fun, action-packed magical adventure, the ReDead are an unwelcome surprise. I didn’t even play this as a kid and it still fills me with dread when I think about it. Those long, gangly arms and sickly claws ready to snatch you up and suck the life out of you while you stand there helpless. The low, endless groaning echoing through the underground well, which you’re certain is actually just a portal to hell. Someone from Ocarina’s dev team was clearly a fan of Silent Hill.

The Creepers — Minecraft

Who would have thought that the ultimate sandbox game could be so terrifying? You’re just minding your business, gathering supplies and, oh look, it’s suddenly nighttime and – oh no, they’re coming. The Creepers are nasty buggers, and you often hear them before you see them. I hope that house you built is strong enough to keep them out.

The Witch’s criesLeft 4 Dead.

There are plenty of creepy noises in Left 4 Dead (the Boomer’s gurgling being another serious contender), but nothing is as terror inducing as the sound of the witch’s cries. With a good gaming headset, you can hear her from pretty far away and the race is on to try to find her before she finds you. Let’s just hope none of your teammates accidently aggros her in a room full of other special zombie types. A hunter and a witch together is a recipe for panic, terror, and death.

Are you still there?” — Portal

Redefining puzzle games for the better, the uneasiness players face in Portal has to do with the feeling of helplessness. Armed only with a gun that can make portals, you have to figure out how to get past the turrets placed around levels without dying over and over. Ducking behind cover after they fire at you and hearing this dreaded line is meant to remind you that they’re still watching, waiting.

Regenerators breathing — Resident Evil

While you could argue that Resident Evil should be off the list as everything in it is supposed to scare you, we still had to give a hat’s off to the sound design of the Regenerators. It’s a subtle, simple effect that is designed to slowly drive players insane. The results are extremely effective.

Do you have a video game sound that still drives you up the wall in panic or fear when you hear it? Let us know in the comments! 

For more Halloween season scary game topics and coverage, keep an eye on our Spookytacular page