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Top 10 – Hard To Watch Moments in Games

GeekOut Top 10s

Games can sometimes be a little bit tense; or they can be so gruesome that you can’t bare to continue staring at it. There are lots of reasons why you may struggle to watch something unfold, be it grounded in reality or absurdity. Whatever the reason, you chose this one, you strange people, so here are our Top 10 Hard To Watch Moments In Games.

Oh and small warning; there’s a lot of horror in this one.


Top 10

10) The Last Minute – Keep Talking And Nobody Explodes

As if things in this game aren’t tense enough! You’re holding an explosive with complex and elaborate countermeasures built in, relying on a team of “experts” who can only depend on your description to help you survive. There’s an alarm clock to randomly throw you off your game, there are triggers that demand your constant attention, the lights flash, occasionally switch off, and above it all, there’s the final minute on the clock.

A light in the room starts flashing red, because you need to be reminded of how perilous a position you’re in. The timer shifts from minutes and seconds to seconds and decimals thereof, meaning that the steady pace of the countdown has suddenly become a frantic plummet to the finish line, and as you panic you can only feverishly describe that one, last, pesky module that looks like so many other modules, or maybe is impossible to decipher. In many ways it’s worse to watch someone else, but it’s still far worse to be in the hotseat.

9) Sink Foetus – Silent Hill P.T

It’s a gut wrenching thing to behold a half-formed humanoid figure, twisting and writhing in a filthy sink, blood red and distorted. Does it weep alone? Does it howl in pain? Does it speak unpleasant secrets in a horribly juxtaposed voice? Does it wait silently, as you watch its heart beating outside its incomplete chest? Some might see it as a cheap trick to grab the poor victim of Silent Hill’s ill fated trailer, but there’s grim context behind it.

Lisa – the ghost who holds you prisoner in the same short stretch of corridor for turn after turn – is drenched from the waist down in blood, a visible representation of how the crimson foetus in the sink came into this world. The radio tells a story of sadness and death, and all the while there is this sense that you have been bound to this place for something you did wrong. Certainly the lecture from the damn creature in the sink makes it feel like you’re to blame for all this.

8) Cutting Your Own Finger Off – Heavy Rain

Heavy Rain is not without its flaws – SHAUN. It’s a game which takes an incredibly narrative heavy approach, which often just acts as a “Make-Your-Own-Adventure”. Ignoring the flaws, the game tells a pretty good story which is worth checking out. I managed to catch streams of this and I found the story compelling. Ethan, the protagonist, is put through a series of ridiculous trials; many of which would break an ordinary man.

However, to actually be made to cut off your own finger in order to get information to save your son is bold. Ethan goes through with it, cutting his finger off on a camera for the Origami Killer. It’s one of those moments where you don’t want to watch the gruesome moment that he lops his finger off. I found the visuals of this bit was lacking a bit, but then again the game is supposed to be a story, not a shockfest.

7) Kaernk – Amnesia: The Dark Descent

The game that caught the gaming world by storm back in 2010 (wow, that’s getting really close to it’s ten year mark) put the protagonist into an incredibly vulnerable position, forced to flee from insurmountable foes, some of which real, some only perceived. In the case of the Kaernk, very real, but impossible to see. Bet you didn’t know that invisible creature in the water had an actual name!

Knee high water everywhere in the Brennenburg Castle is infested with these unseen stalkers, that hunger for flesh with such zeal that they will pursue the nearest morsel, whether it’s dead and adrift in a flooded cellar, or whether it’s blundering hastily through flowing sewers. You have to look away, because despite being invisible, simply knowing it’s there can drive you mad, but it’s uncomfortable to witness this thing moving ominously through the water, the mechanic just gives you an excuse to keep your head turned slightly away from the screen.

6) The Swaying Towers – Jenga vs Rhino Hero

It’s versus time!

Jenga is the classic, every brick you remove from the stubby tower goes on top, slowly shifting the centre of gravity further and further up, and leaving the whole more and more unstable. I am naturally the guy who takes a bunch from the bottom leaving the two centre bricks so that the whole thing starts wobbling straight away. After a few turns the swaying begins, and every brick you touch sends the thing into a dangerous wobble.

Rhino Hero is the new kid on the block… I did not mean that. Anyway, a far more delicate tower of cards is built from the ground up, so much as a knock of the table, a vague breeze, a sigh of relief can send the tower crashing back down, but that’s simply not enough. Some cards force the next player in line to move the tiny, insignificant Rhino token, so light, and yet so maddeningly difficult to move without disturbing the rickety column. Do not play near air conditioning.

But which is the more horrible to witness?

5) Being Tortured By Dr. Trager – Outlast

This one’s actually gruesome. When you first meet Dr. Trager, he tricks you into thinking that he’s trying to save you. He tells you to get into the waiter pully lift you encounter, you know those old pully lifts where you drop your crockery off if you’re really posh? He’ll then offer to lift you to safety. You have JUST been running from some men trying to kill you to get money off you.

Next he pulls you into the room, bludgeoning you as soon as he opens the gate. He drags you into his room and you’re completely helpless. He puts you into a wheelchair and ties you in. He then carts you off and taunts you, letting you look out at a door to freedom “Go on. Get up. Go. Be free. No? Okay then. I like how you want to get on with this!” and then he takes you through room after room of experiments.

Dr. Trager himself looks like his whole skin has been burned up through exposure to chemicals. He wears only an apron. When he takes you to the intended place, he pulls out some MASSIVE blades and proceeds to cut off two of your fingers – before leaving you – and then he hunts you down when you try to escape. It’s brutal.

4) SCP-173

Hard to watch, worse to tear your eyes away. The game that follows a containment breach within the facility designed to protect us from the abnormalities of nature and supernature that could destroy us all, and in some cases to protect them from us.

Not 173 though.

SCP-173, the sculpture, the one that the game is named after. Once seen, you must keep watching, because every moment, even in those split seconds when you have to blink, because the strange pudgy concrete monster comes right for you at incredible speeds to bludgeon you into paste.* In the game, you blink, and you blink a lot, especially when you know you shouldn’t be doing so. Hearing it’s thunderous footsteps, fleeing down corridors with blinking lights, fleeing from those objects who resent you looking at them, or demand your attention, all the while SCP-173 is roaming free.

3) Stepping Through Doors – Resident Evil 1

Doors are a funny thing, but in Resident Evil 1, they really are not. The joy of the original Resident Evil lies within the fact that you don’t know what’s coming next, but this is mostly thanks to the fact there are doors between each area. When you want to go from one area to the next, you typically must go through a door, or at least some form of transition screen, allowing you some time to reflect on what’s on the other side.

When you go through a door, you’re greeted with a nice, basic animation of a door opening. It looks fine, but that’s not why this is hard to watch. The animation is slow, with a purpose for being so. It drives you insane, knowing that something could be waiting to jump you, or you may see something bad on the other side… Or there could be nothing at all. No matter what you get, you don’t want to look at what’s coming for you next – And that’s honestly all you can ask of a horror.

2) The Edge Of Rainbow Road – Mario Kart

Rainbow Road Super Mario Kart 64

There’s not much in this world that can make every gamer wince, even those of us who don’t tend to play consoles. That track could make or break friendships, they could serve to highlight one’s woeful lack of skill with analogue sticks, or drive some of the most skilled players to the brink of madness. That endless drop into the starry abyss is often only a hair’s breadth away, with nothing to stop you tipping over into it.

Every damn turn, every twist and undulation of Rainbow Road threatened to hurl you from the race and into oblivion. You’d come back, sure, but it’s a far bigger set back than simply bouncing off a wall. And then there’s the damn items, being hurled off road by a banana peel? And of course, generation after generation of Mario Kart drags it back with bigger gaps, more twists, bigger obstacles and more elaborate set pieces. Riding the edge is a nail biting thing, the merest slip away from the freezing gulfs of space.

1) Dropping To 1% Battery – Five Nights At Freddy’s

Whilst this is a shocking position for this, relatively innocuous part of Five Nights At Freddy’s, it’s actually a lot more real to Joel and I. If she reads this, I am truly, truly sorry for sharing this Kim, but you did put it on stream! If any of you have been following us since at least 2015, then you may remember that we did a fun little Halloween stream. Joel, Kim, Phil and I shared an apartment for a day and just played some horror games.

The one game that terrified Kim was Five Nights At Freddy’s – And one of the most notable moments was when the battery dropped to 1%. With cushion in hand, Kim could not look at the TV at all – and it was amazing! Joel was sat by, also cringing and trying not to look away, but found himself to also be looking around – But he braved it out! Ultimately, it was one of those moments, where people were terrified of the consequences, so much so, they didn’t want to know or see what came next.

Please, everyone, go follow Kim over at Later Levels. Kim, I am so sorry for adding you into the story here, but hey, you were the reason behind our top pick!


Honourable Mentions

Well, not all hard to watch moments have to be limited to you actively playing a video game. Traditional games have moments that are just too hard to watch – And sometimes, the suspense comes from a third party. We thought up two clear examples of this, where we just wince at the very idea of what’s about to come next.

Another Player Turning The Crank – Mouse Trap

A lot of people, apparently, didn’t realise that Mouse Trap was a game that was built up over time. After Jake told me that he thought the game had a long setup time, I explained that the trap was built over a gradual period of time during the game. This surprised him – and apparently a lot of people online as well… So there’s a fun bit of trivia for you.

Anyway, Mouse Trap is wonderful, especially if you’re a kid. It’s one of those games you can easily pick up with some friends, roll the dice and hope for the best. It’s all random, it’s all silly, but overall it’s one of those iconic board games that’ll always stand the test of time. However, when you get to those final few squares, you and your mousey friends are left going literally in circles… Until one of the other players lands on the crank.

If they land on the crank and you’re under the cage, you just have to watch as the long, overly complicated trap triggers… Until the diver falls into the tub and down comes that cage. It’s just a long, complex mess of a trap which is so compelling, but at the same time, such an imposing end to your game.

Watching A Friend Play Badly

When you introduce a friend to a game you’ve played and loved, or perhaps when you find them playing it one day, and you see them… failing, badly, how do you keep yourself from backseat gaming? How do you stop yourself from being that friend? Sometimes you can sit back and revel in them being stumped on a puzzle, relishing the knowledge that you have that they don’t, but even that schadenfreude glee can only last so long before their frustrated obliviousness starts to hurt you.

And nobody wants to be told how to do a game “right”, no matter that you only want to help, you know that if you were in that seat you’d hate to be told that you’re playing wrong. So you sit, and try to enjoy, and appreciate in the shared experience, all the while furiously biting your tongue and trying to be a good friend.


Is it over? Yes, it is. Thank goodness, we can now get out from underneath the blankets and look at the much better scene ahead of us. Oh no, you know what else is scary? The sudden realisation that you’re going to determine what happens to us next week. You get to decide what we should discuss for Top 10, so you’re now going to select an option from the poll below. I can’t bare to look!

Now that’s over with, I’ll uncover my eyes and look back upon these intense moments. What did you make of our list this week? Did we forget anything important, or did we cover all of the hard to watch moments you could think of? Did we get our order completely wrong? As ever, your opinion opens up great discussion, so let us know your thoughts in the comments below, or over on Facebook and Twitter.


*If anyone knows definitively which came first, 173 or Weeping Angels I’d love to know. I find several contradictory stories.

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