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Breaking expectation (and trust): one of the scariest videogame tricks?

Gamingtodaynews1e - Breaking expectation (and trust): one of the scariest videogame tricks?

I've put my examples below under spoiler markers, but they are minor gameplay moments as opposed to major story spoilers.

Let me start off by saying that I am a wimp when it comes to playing videogames: I can't do horror (I will watch Let's Plays while hiding in the Youtube comments, with all the lights on) and I can get genuinely creeped out by even a slightly weird atmosphere in a game.

However, I really, really enjoy and appreciate out of the blue jumpscares in games. Namely, jumpscares that are a result of the game breaking your trust by subverting previously established rules and expectations.

That safe area that no one can get to you? Knock knock, big bad guy coming through!

This cupboard usually filled with gold and loots? Well, now you're dead-by-monstercupboard.

One example that sticks out to me is the new God of War:

Platforming my way to a chest off the beaten track about 15 hours in – one of the ones that are big and heavy and have a long animation time of Kratos using all his strength to open it and extract whatever goodie is inside. Mid-way through this animation, a demon ruptures out of the chest and attacks Kratos! This was particularly scary as there was no indication or set-up for this to happen (no ghostly atmosphere or similar). It's also an out-of-the-way area where you've already worked to get to it (platforming puzzle) so it doesn't feel like the reward is too good to be true.


Usually for me, this means that the game itself is not a scary game, but there have been times where I've mustered the courage to play a "scary" game and they're still able to introduce unexpected beats of fear.

The Last of Us 2:

This game was really good at setting up expectations then knocking them down, without overtesting a player's trust. The optional area in the apartment block where you're using a workbench, which you've come to associate with a breather moment, a calm-before-the-storm. You can hear behind you noise…is that…a human? Before you have time to react, you're thrust out of the workbench menu as you're attacked by some guys that were hiding behind a previously uninteractable door. My adrenaline spiked like almost no other time in the game. I even got spooked later when I'm reading a letter and my companion grabs it from me unexpectedly…

It's those moments where you are – were – at your most relaxed, and most vulnerable that scare the sh** out of me. And I kinda love it.

What do you think – do you love or hate (or meh) moments where a game gives you trust issues? Do you have any examples of games you've played that preyed upon your expectations in order to deliver a good ol' spoopy scare?

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