To those of you who don't know, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is a particularly good surreal horror/strange fiction "video game" made by the Austronauts. It's mechanically limited (With only slightly more mechanics than Dear Esther or Gone Home, and a very mild amount of simple puzzle solving,) but graphically gorgeous and really well designed and written. (So far. I haven't finished it yet.) Spoilers ahead, so if you are interested in a interactive semi-lovecraftian horror video game, I'd suggest playing it rather than reading on. Unless you like spoilers.
Anyways, so for the entirety of my playthrough, I had encountered precisely 0 NPCs. I'm on a great big island, and while I've encountered a few bodies and some ghostly images of where people used to be, there had been no NPCs and no reason to believe that there ever would be. I was exploring a deep cave/mining zone, and after stumbling across a deep staircase I thought I would investigate further. The entire staircase was very dim, gloomy, dark, and really creepy. (The game sets an absolutely fantastic tone.) The music, the set design, everything was set up to be really freaky and creepy. So, after walking past a sign saying 'Do not go past this sign because of horrible evils ahead,' (Paraphrasing,) I noticed that around the corner there was a flickering light that seemed to be growing closer.
I paused the game.
(I should add that I'm easily scared by crap in games, and my usual defense is to pause the game for a moment and take stock of what's going on so random crap can't just jump out at me, or possibly to exit the game and come back later. I play scary games in small doses.)
After a moment of thought, I decided that it wouldn't be an NPC. After all, I had triggered animations and stuff in the past, it was probably just something weird and creepy and would help set the tone. I unpaused the game.
The flickering light got closer.
A freaking ghoul monster walked around the corner, and at this point I can't really say much except that it was pretty freaky and scary. Then, it teleported to about six inches in front of my face and grabbed me. So, I hit the pause button again.
The developers disabled the pause function for the duration of the scene.
Did I mention that this game is genius and terrible?