• Halloween

The 13 Most Haunting Ghost Stories In Video Game History

List RulesVote up the stories that haunted your dreams long after you finished playing.

Tales of the supernatural can be a fantastic addition to a game's main storyline. Hauntings are very personal, so there's bound to be an interesting narrative to uncover, and everybody loves a good, blood-chilling ghost story regardless of whether players came to a game looking for cowboy antics or the chance to collect a bevy of battle-ready pocket monsters. 

While plenty of great horror games bring non-stop jump scares and genuinely terrifying moments, the smaller, self-contained ghost stories tend to stick with players longer, as they often stand out against commonplace settings and narratives. While much of Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is about slaying dragons, exploring dungeons, and hoping you don't run into a game-breaking glitch, the mission where you're asked to investigate a haunted house in a bustling city stands out for its off-kilter pacing and departure from the typical high fantasy mood. 

The best video game ghost stories give players a more nuanced look at the characters they're interacting with and manage to reach a satisfying resolution within a couple play sessions. While many such tales are just well-designed sidequests, a few have ties to real-life occult incidents, making them all the more unsettling. 

  • Photo: Konami

    "In my restless dreams, I see that town. Silent Hill." So reads the letter James receives from someone claiming to be his late wife Mary, urging him to go to their "special place" in the town of Silent Hill. While James is reluctant to believe a ghost wrote him a letter, the chance to see his beloved again is too great to pass up so he returns to the now-decrepid town. 

    From the moment James gets out of his car everything he encounters is a physical manifestation of his troubled headspace. The game's monsters are equal parts hypersexual and body horror (symbolic of the sexual frustration James felt while he watched his wife waste away) and the main demon seems hell-bent on punishing James for the way he handled Mary's sickness. While this is all pretty unsettling, the most disturbing vision is arguably Maria, who resembles a loose, club-ready version of James's late wife. 

    Over and over again, James fails to save Maria from meeting a grim end. However, after each tragic demise she returns to James with little explanation, only to be taken once again in an equally disturbing manner. The game's ending changes based on how the player receives Maria.

    If James chooses to get closer to Maria, he can move past the loss of Mary and leave town with his new flame (though in the game's final moments, she appears to be falling ill.) On the other hand, if James stays loyal to Mary, a distorted version of Maria can become the game's final boss. 

    • Category: Video Game
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  • In a nod to Joseph Conrad's Heart of DarknessSpec-Ops: The Line has its heroes traversing modern-day Dubai, AE, in search of the lost Lieutenant Colonal John Konrad. Rather than a sailing up the Congo, the game's team of soldiers must traverse an ocean of dirt, as sandstorms have completely taken over the city, flooding most buildings with grit and leaving the land borderline uninhabitable. 

    For most of the game, the tone is a healthy dose of hysterical realism; it's definitely an out-there situation but everything could theoretically happen in real life. However, in the final level the truth comes to light; after struggling up an enemy-infested stronghold, the player reaches Konrad's penthouse and realizes the Colonal is nothing more than an imagined projection of the hero's own guilt. None of the other characters ever spoke directly to Konrad, and it's highly likely the delusion is just another punishment for the heroes who've been dead since before the game started and are trapped in limbo. 

    Technically speaking, the game never confirms the heroes are lost souls stuck in purgatory, but interviews with the main writer prove it's unarguably a possibility, and the plethora of shootouts in sand-filled nightclubs, rapidly-decaying bodies, and other psychedelic nightmare sequences make the occult explanation sound way more reasonable than the normal military mission option. 

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  • Photo: Rockstar Games

    The fate of Agnes Dowd is one of the many mysteries that haunt the vast frontier of Red Dead Redemption 2. If Arthur chooses to sit around the main camp's fire at the right moment, Reverend Swanson tells a chilling tale of Dowd's spirit drifting across the marshes of Lemoyne swamp, but even the good Father doesn't seem to know exactly how her immortal essence got there. 

    Reverend Swanson's tale is enough to scare away the average ranch hand (though the characters manage to laugh it off), but devout ghost hunters can head towards the Bluewater Marsh section of the map to put the story to the test. Set up camp near Lemoy swamp and Dowd's ghost should appear between 9:00 pm and 3:00 am. At first, Dowd makes her prescence known by howling hysterically, and if you follow her ravings you'll catch sight of her ghostly form hovering about the marshes.

    According to some sources, you can only encounter Dowd's ghost 16 times - and she babbles about something different each time - though this may be nothing more than a 21st century video game urban legend. 

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    • Photo: Rocksteady

      At several points throughout Batman: Arkham Asylum, the villainous Scarecrow uses neurotoxins to make Batman hallucinate his worst fears. After this happens a couple times, it gets easier to pick up on the signs things are taking a turn for the surreal, but the first time Scarecrow strikes it's totally unexpected. 

      While venturing through Arkham Asylum's morgue, it quickly becomes clear something is amiss. Officers and villains alike appear to be losing it, and the astute player will notice Batman's eyes are glowing eerily. This is easy enough to shrug off - the entire asylum is running amok so of course some people are acting unhinged - but when Batman discovers the lifeless corpse of Comissioner Gordon, the game's main objective pivots to have the caped crusader investigate the scene. 

      Batman calls Oracle to break the bad news about her father, but he's met with a generic "the number you dialed isn't available" message. The camera starts to rock, and suddenly the walls are swarming with beetles. When Batman enters the room where bodies are kept, he finds two sealed bodybags prominently placed in the center of the room. Upon opening these bags, Batman discovers the reanimated corpses of his late parents, both of whom have come back to tell him how he failed to protect them. 

      Thankfully, Batman is soon able to stop Scarcrow's madness, but the ghosts seem all too real and have a noticable effect on the Dark Knight's psyche. 

      • Category: Video Game
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