Video games, especially those in the horror genre, are known for having some exceptionally scary creatures. While many cause fear based on their difficulty to kill or their ability to make a good run go bad, some are just creepy on their own. Below is my list of the top 5 scariest creatures that I have encountered in video games.
The list came to fruition after I was discussing Outlast with a coworker. He mentioned that it’s easily one of the scariest games that he has played, with the notable exception of Silent Hill. I began musing through some of the more creepy games that I’ve played. Having never played Outlast or Silent Hill, I obviously can’t compare to either of them. Resident Evil is known for being one of the biggest horror video games. Dead Space certainly made me jump out of my skin more times than I can remember. There are tons out there.
But then i started thinking about single creatures that were just unreasonably scary. Stuff that made me scream like a little girl and throw controllers. Stuff that made me pause the game, turn the lights on, and take a minute to regain composure. Though my number one spot is uncontested, there are quite a few enemies that have given me a decent fright.
#5: “They” Ghosts (Zelda: Majora’s Mask)
Though the Zelda games are far from horror games, they do have some scary parts, notably defending Romani Ranch from the ghosts in Majora’s Mask.
By themselves, these creatures really aren’t so bad. A single arrow kills them, no matter where you hit them. They move slowly, and they’re big enough to hit easily from a good distance. The lore around them is eerie, but nothing really terrifying: unexplained aliens that come to farms on Earth to abduct cows.
What makes these ghosts scary is the context in which they appear. This mini-quest of sorts has you fending off an alien invasion in the early hours of the morning. The event lasts, if memory serves me correctly, about 2 hours of in game time or ballpark 2 minutes of real time. The ghosts appear all over the ranch and try to make their way to the barn. You have to kill them before they reach it.
They keep showing up, wave after wave after wave. Each time you kill a ghost, another spawns. The ghosts waste no time going after Link, which would practically be a relief. They incessantly drive toward the farm, as you pick them off. The music consists of an eerie synthesizer-sounding tune, and the only lights come from the illuminated eyes of the ghosts.
You can slow down time with the Inverted Song of Time, which slows the ghosts and allows you more time before they reach the barn. However, this also makes the invasion last twice as long. Both have their pros and cons, but considering how stressful the quest is, I prefer to keep normal time pacing and get it over as quickly as possible.
#4: Death Scythe (Devil May Cry)
Devil May Cry treads a thin line between horror, fantasy, and action genres, but some of the creatures in the game are undeniably creepy. For me, the Death Scythe takes the cake as the scariest of them.
The Death Scythe is the most powerful of the “sin” demons, grim reaper-like beings that float around in their cloaked hoods and attack Dante with large scissors or scythes. Though this type of creature is extremely common through the game, Death Scythe in particular are relatively rare. They almost play the role of a mini boss rather than a typical mob.
Most Death Scythe encounters occur in relatively tight quarters, lending a rather claustrophobic feel. They can drift through walls and obstacles however, so it’s no problem for them to drift away and come up quickly though the floor or wall closest to you.
In addition to their trickery and combat prowess, Death Scythe usually shows up with a lot of demonic imagery. Ram skulls, pentagrams, the works. Nothing out of place in a game where you kill demons, but the trope is played up significantly more with them.
So you’re fine with the tight quarters. You’ve watched the Death Scythe’s attacks and know roughly how to grapple with them. You even know how to stay away from the walls and react quickly when it shows up again. That’s all well and good until you kill it. When it dies, the Death Scythe throws all 4 of its scythes up into the air. If these scythes hit you when they fall, they deal massive damage. Even after death, these things are absolutely terrible.
#3: Re-Animated Necromorphs (Dead Space)
What’s worse than a Necromorph? A Necromorph that you thought was dead until you got close and it stood up.
Dead Space is bad about jump scares, but the re-animating Necromorphs are probably the worst of the bunch. Most of the USG Ishimura is littered with corpses throughout the duration of Dead Space. Eventually, you’re so desensitized that a corpse just means one less thing you have to kill. That is, until one of them abruptly jumps up and charges at you.
Resourceful players will find that actual dead bodies can be picked up with telekinesis, while Necromorphs who are faking death cannot be picked up. This at least gives players the opportunity to get a few shots in from afar. Still, the sheer amount of corpses in the game is enough to deter checking every single dead body. And the one you don’t check is the one that will attack as you walk by.
#2: Dead Hand (Zelda: Ocarina of Time)
Maybe this one was just because I played the game at such a young age. Nope. Still scares the living daylights out of me.
The Dead Hand mini boss makes me dread even stepping foot inside the Kakariko Well or the Shadow Temple. Both of these areas are a bit more creepy than the rest of the game, but they’re manageable. Dead Hand, however, just makes my skin crawl.
The creature consists of a main body, with several auxiliary hands that emerge from the ground. These hands hold Link still, while the main body tries to attack. Though the second fight can be made slightly easier with the Lens of Truth, it doesn’t really make it any less scary.
Part of what makes Dead Hand creepy is the mechanics of the fight. The range of the auxiliary hands is surprisingly far, and difficult to determine. You may think you’re far enough away, but then you get grabbed by the face and Dead Hand is coming right at you. Although you can break out of the grip of the auxiliary hands, you often can’t do so quickly enough to avoid Dead Hand. When you’ve hit Dead Hand a few times, it retreats into the ground, only to pop up somewhere else.
In addition to the stressful mechanics of the encounter, Dead Hand just looks scary. It’s easily 2 or 3 times as tall as Link, but hunched over with that hollow-looking face right on eye level. When Dead Hand strikes, its jaw basically unhinges, revealing a mouth that opens wider than a human head. The sickly white skin color with red splotches just makes Dead Hand reek of death.
#1: Regenerator & Iron Maiden (Resident Evil 4)
Anyone who has played the Resident Evil series will likely agree that few things come anywhere near the level of scary that Regenerators and Iron maidens share.
Your first encounter with a Regenerator sets the tone, and it really only goes downhill from there. Hey, there’s a corpse on that table. Wait, where did the body go? Oh , it came back to life, fantastic. Re-animation is a common trope among horror games and movies, nothing I can’t handle.
But then you shoot it and it doesn’t die. Alright then, we’ll take your legs out and see how scary you are. Floundering around on the ground, you just spray it with bullets. Shotgun, TMP, whatever you currently have equipped. Nothing, this thing still isn’t dead. If you’re luckily far away, it just grows new legs and stands up to keep coming at you. If you were unfortunately close, the bastard pounced like a cheetah and latched onto your neck.
Either way, you’re pretty panicked at this point. Nothing in the Resident Evil series has properly equipped you for this sort of bullet sponge. Finally, when you’re nearly out of ammo and almost dead, the Regenerator starts to swell like a balloon and explodes.
But alas, I did mention that being difficult to kill didn’t warrant a place on this list. That’s the thing, being difficult to kill isn’t what makes a Regenerator scary. It only forces you to spend more time in the presence of these abominations.
The first thing you’ll notice is the odd deformities from the normal human figure (a facet that is merely exacerbated with the arrival of Iron Maidens as I’ll explain later). At a distance, the Regenerator looks almost human: similar size and body structure. But then you see the gaping mouth full of shark-like jagged teeth. Its arms extend quite a bit longer than a human’s, additionally functioning to improve its reach distance. Plus, give it another foot or so above average human height.
If the Regenerators weren’t bad enough, Iron Maidens have spikes jutting from nearly every surface on their bodies. When they get close, they can make these spikes extend outward in every direction. Nightmare fuel + spikes = nightmare octane?
When Regenerators walk, they move with a strange jittery motion. The sluggish trod of zombies is old hat. This? This is something entirely different. A Regenerator moves slowly, but consistently. And like many a horror movie, no matter how fast or how far you run, it’s somehow always right behind you. Since many of them are in narrow hallways or small rooms, you can’t usually get very far from them anyway.
Perhaps worst of all is the breathing noise they make. It’s a labored sort of gasp that isn’t shared by anything else. As soon as you hear their breath, you know what’s coming. You know you’ll have to go toe to toe with one of them, and you hope that you’ll come out alive.
Honorable Mention: ReDead & Gibdo (Zelda Series)
I hate to list creatures that aren’t unique to a specific game, or to double up on the same game, but these absolutely deserve a place on the list.
ReDeads and Gibdos are the Zelda universe incarnations of zombies and mummies respectively. In many ways, they are similar to generic zombies and mummies from any sort of horror media. ReDeads are covered in a decaying layer of skin, Gibdos have white wraps. They both move slowly, they crave human flesh, the works. Where they differ from traditional zombies and mummies is what gets them an honorable mention on my list.
The first difference you’ll likely notice upon encountering a ReDead or Gibdo is the awful scream they make upon seeing Link. Traditionally, the only sound I know of zombies and mummies making is a sort of moan or grunt. This scream is nigh blood curdling, and every one of them makes it as soon as they see you.
When they scream, they freeze Link temporarily. Is it 2 seconds? Is it 5 minutes? It’s hard to tell when you can’t move and they’re slowly advancing on you. You’re spamming buttons and the control stick trying to get away, but nothing seems to help. Hopefully, you’re able to get away before they get too close. If you’re not able to get away, they jump and latch onto you. A spin attack is usually enough to throw them off, but a spin attack is difficult to manage when you’re freaking out about a zombie attached to your face.
The saving grace about fighting ReDeads and Gibdos in Ocarina of Time is that the Sun’s Song paralyzes them for probably 30 seconds or more, easily enough time to get past them or maintain distance to mitigate their threat. Once I learn the Sun’s Song, I abuse it. ReDead off in the corner of the room? Nope, not dealing with you today.
Those are my top 5 scariest video game creatures, but obviously I haven’t played everything. Plus, what I find trivial might be a phobia of someone else. What’s your number 1? Is there anything you’ve encountered that you just can’t bear the thought of repeating?
Words: 2103 | Characters: 11818 | Sentences: 136
Paragraphs: 43 | Reading Level: 11-12th Grade