It goes without saying that survival horror games are meant to unsettle. With their claustrophobic corridors (where are the electricians), limited ammunition, and creepy atmosphere, we can’t help but be terrified. But the cherry on top is always the terrifying foes we encounter in the horror world.
Who doesn’t love a good monster? Series like Silent Hill and Resident Evil have been throwing abominations at us for years, and newer series like Amnesia and Dead Space have really capitalized on that design. The sounds they make, the axes they swing, and their seemingly bottomless sprint meters are what make us shake. Put something in a room that’s fast enough to chase us around a map and, well, we’re just about the most satisfied (or masochistic) gamers in all the land.
As part of our 31 Days of Horror Games series, here’s a list of 10 of the scariest video game monsters ever:
Regenerators – Resident Evil 4
It’s more than the wheezing, rasping breathing that haunts the sterile corridors of Resident Evil 4‘s latter stages that make these guys creepy – though I heard them breathing behind for the next few months after I completed this game. No, what makes these monsters so scary is how they just stand there, staring blankly before sauntering towards you. Your shotgun blasts holes in their grey, bloated bodies, only to fill back in moments later as if nothing happened. Hell, their heads come back when you blow them off. Their heads. Oh, and if you’re really looking for a surprise, shoot them in the legs.
Broken Neck – Fatal Frame 2
Creeping through the lost village, clicking countless malevolent spirits into the other world with the Camera Obscura, I stumble into a room that is unsettlingly empty, save for a lone projector. Being in the state of mind that I’m sure many horror movie characters are in moments before their mutilation, I turned on the projector to see what horrors it would display before me, instead of taking the hint and getting the hell out. While I don’t remember what I saw in the movie, I do remember the filament indicating an approaching ghost unexpectedly lighting up. I turned to my right just in time to see a spectral woman emerge from the wall, head unnaturally contorted, bent much further to the side than it should be. The tendons and bones of her neck pressed against her taut skin, her mouth lulled open. She advanced. I paused the game. I may have screamed and thrown the remote. I may have made a fool of myself.
Your Girlfriend Paula – Shadows of the Damned
Shadows of the Damned had the unique quality of making you laugh right before making you crap yourself. Having dove headfirst into the underworld to save your girlfriend, Paula, wielding a talking revolver called the HotBoner, you have to chase her down and get her back from some bastard demons that decided she would be a perfect addition to their realm. However, in an early part of the story, you go from the chaser to chasee, as Paula stumbles out of the woods, takes one look at you, and starts screaming after you. Her arms flail, she laughs and wheezes maniacally, and if she catches you, she kills you with a kiss. One can only assume she’s possessed by a demon. It’s probably a combination of the aforementioned flailing limbs and the inherent fear of being chased that makes this so terrifying a scenario. Oh, and the fact that you can’t just kill her to solve the problem. You have to run until you lose her. *shiver*
Twin Victim – Silent Hill 4
While it’s creepy when murderous video game creatures try to kill you, this is usually about the extent of your interactions with them. Very rarely do enemies interact with you beyond their scripted attack sequences. Silent Hill 4‘s Twin Victims, however, go the extra mile to remind you that they know you are there. They don’t attack on sight, instead standing stock still and staring at you from a distance, extending a hand, pointing at you, and whispering “receiver of…” right before charging and viciously clawing at you. Oh yeah, and the Twin Victims are two oversized sleeping siamese twins swaddled in a black cloak, walking on two adult arms. Why do they have adult arms?! Babies are creepy.
Lisa – Silent Hills P.T.
The atmosphere in Hideo Kojima and Guillermo Del Toro’s P.T. is second to none. The singular hallway that slowly distorts over time, the countless bumps and moans — just standing there and doing nothing can feel creepy at times. When some of these sounds are attached to faces, though, shit gets real. Enter Lisa, the ghostly woman one can only assume was killed by her husband, as told by a radio report. Towards the end of the game, you must exorcise her spirit…by confronting her face to face. Floating just a little off the ground, her torn nightgown, twitching head, and vacant eyes are immediately scorched into your mind, just waiting to emerge once again in your nightmares. Oh, and when she creeps up behind you at a randomized point in the demo for a close up, get ready to know true fear.
The Witch – Left 4 Dead
This enemy really has everything – it’s female (how are they always so much scarier than men in movies?), it’s hair is draped over its head like Samara from The Ring, it sits alone in dark rooms and sobs uncontrollably (never assist a lonely sobbing child in a horror story under any circumstances if you value your life and appendages), it’s fast, and it’s damn near invincible. Thankfully, she can be avoided if caution is used. If you get careless, though, her screams will probably be the last thing you hear before she disembowels you with those vicious looking claws that occupy the space where her human hands used to be.
The Mannequins – Condemned: Criminal Origins
The first Condemned was full of dark, decrepit urban structures that housed cracked-out maniacs with pipes, but those maniacs at least had the decency to scream and charge at you like any other animal. When you got to the shopping mall, though, all those head-on attacks came to a stop. Instead, players started to think they’d gone crazy when the mannequins placed throughout the mall seemed to sprout legs – er, I guess that simile doesn’t work here – and change positions all on their own. Well, this was because they weren’t mannequins. They were a higher-functioning form of the aforementioned crazies who realized pretending to be a statue was an effective way to make you wake your whole goddamned family up in the middle of the night with your hysteric yelps.
Librarian – Metro 2033
Even though having a mutant bum rush you with teeth bared is an enormously terrifying experience for any gamer, when you experience an enemy that doesn’t attack you, you really start missing those charging beasts from before. What made Metro 2033‘s Librarians so frightening was the fact that, if you stared them down, they would opt not to attack – backing away and returning to their territory. However, if you turned your back on them and then turned around, just to make sure they didn’t change their minds, you might notice that they were just a little closer than they were before, their hunched, gorrilla-like forms staring at you from an ever-shrinking distance that only grew smaller each time you turned your back. One might think killing it would remove this tension, but these were extremely tough enemies that could kill you or mortally wound you very quickly. Even if you escaped with your life, having to use the precious few medical supplies patching yourself up would only make things harder down the road.
Stalker Necromorph – Dead Space 2
As I have suggested throughout this list, enemies that are more roundabout in stalking and subsequently attacking you are always more scary than those that simply charge. It’s the waiting and the knowing that something’s out there watching you that makes things so tense. Dead Space 2‘s Stalker Necromorphs do just that. These raptor-like monsters duck behind obstacles, lurk deep in dark rooms, and coordinate with other Stalkers just outside the edge of your flashlight beam and a little outside of your periphery, waiting to attack you from all sides. When you hear one of these enemies sound their hunting call, chills ensue.
Kaernk – Amnesia: The Dark Descent
There’s nothing worse than feeling totally out of control, helpless to the twisted game that fate plays with the unlucky. In Amnesia: The Dark Descent, where you have no weapons with which to defend yourself, this feeling is constantly present. However, in the Flooded Archives, Daniel isn’t just helpless to fight due to his lack of weapons — he can’t even see his enemy. These invisible terrors can only be detected when they slowly, deliberately stalk towards you in the water – their movements indicated by the ripples their transparent appendages create as they saunter towards you. When so much is left to the imagination, it makes the experience that much more terrifying.
There are hundreds more terrifying atrocities that gamers have endured over the years. Which ones get to you the most? Let us know in the comments section!