You feel watched. You feel hunted. You feel frightened. Most of the time, video game enemies are trivial obstacles. But sometimes, an enemy is more than that. Not because they’re a boss or a mini-boss or anything, but because they’re utterly terrifying. Their mere existence is a challenge to us because they, put simply, scare the crap out of us.
What’s the scariest video game enemy you’ve encountered? What enemy frightened you, creeped or freaked you out, and had your heart pumping every time you came up against it, and why?
But wait! today’s thread will be a little different. We’re going to be doing a tournament! Over the next few weeks, we’ll vote on what we think the scariest enemies in video games are, until on Halloween, the final decision is made!
In this thread, we’re going to be discussing scary enemies in games just as we normally would.
Additionally, you may nominate up to three enemies from any game by writing them in bold at the end of your post. (They don’t have to be the same enemy you wrote your post about.) The enemies that recieve the most nominations will be put in the Top 8 next week.
Dead Space is a game filled with scary creatures where even your standard necramorph is enough to frighten, especially if body horror isn’t your thing. However, the creature from that game that absolutely terrified me and that I still can’t get out of my head some 12+ years later is the Divider. A very tall, thin, necramorph made up of smaller tentacle-like creatures, the way it strides toward you is menacing all on its own, but the part that really fucks me up is the noise it makes. A deep guttural groaning followed by a shrill screech, it probably also takes top spot for me for scariest sound in video games.
My other contender is the monstrosity known as Obscura from The Evil Within 2. It’s a creature consisting of a couple of bodies fused together contorting in disturbing ways and with a uh…camera for a head…Once again the sound design here ups the scare factor with its very creepy moans and yelps. Oh and if somehow all of that isn’t bad enough, it can also stop time! How fun!
spoilering for body horror
So I’m gonna sound like a broken record because of my post in the scary locations thread, but the xenomorph from Alien: Isolation gives you the feeling of being hunted like nothing else. The fact they designed it so that it would hover around you if you stick to one hiding spot for too long really nails the feeling nowhere is quite safe. Hearing it crawl around in the vents, the noise it makes when it drops from the ceiling, the stomping of its feet, the single beep you hear from your tracker when the thing enters your general vicinity–all fantastic pieces of audio design. Seeing it’s tail snake behind it around a door or across your eyes as you hide under a desk–amazing. The brutal kill animations when it gets hold of you–nightmare fuel.
It’s not the same level of scary and that scariness quickly wears off as the game progresses, but I’m also gonna shoutout the mimic from Prey because it’s genuinely amazing that it embeds in you an immense distrust of slightly out-of-place inanimate objects. Enter the bathroom, see two toilet paper rolls, think “I got you little motherfucker!”, smash one of those toilet papers rolls but instead the towel next to it leaps at your face.
Xenomorph, Alien: Isolation
Edit: feel obligated to say something about my third nom. IIRC, the Flesher is the enemy in SOMA that you can’t look at directly. You poke your head around a corner, catch a glimpse of its glowing eyes, and have to listen for when the coast is clear. Much like with the xeno description above, good audio design is really the thing that sells the scare. I recall being trapped in a room with a flesher on its way in, and basically just had to turn around and stare at the wall listening to it ponder whether the back of my head looked a tasty snack.
Another nomination for the Xenomorph. I have played that game for a total of 4-5 hours. Every time I encountered the Alien I switched the game off, deleted it from my hard drive for six months and had nightmares about it for a week.
I’ve seen it three times and I know I’ll never complete that game.
The peekaboo door slam, the stance in the middle of the hall when you round the corner, how she’s affixed behind you most time casting shadows. Sure it’s a trick that only worked once but oof if it didn’t really work.
“Detecting multiple leviathan class lifeforms in the region. Are you certain whatever you’re doing is worth it?”
That is the only line that has ever well and truly freaked me out while playing a video game, and it’s because the Reaper Leviathan is fucking terrifying. Because I can nominate three, I’m going to pick two more, but that is far and away my number one. It’s both huge and terrifying and silent and deadly, has giant mandibles that it uses to try and break your submersibles or, if it catches you without one, literally shovel you into its mouth. It can approach from anywhere in the ocean, above or below or from every side, so when it screams it has you frantically spinning to find it even though you know it’s already too late.
1: Reaper Leviathan
2. Headcrabs. Creepy as hell. Fucking terrifying in VR. And kudos to Black Mesa for adding a new class of headcrab zombie that makes the HEV suit energy depleted sound upon death — that just made them even creepier.
3. Pyramid Head. I shouldn’t need to explain this one.
I’d throw a nom to the Alien Isolation Xenomorph too except it’s an enemy so scary I haven’t even played the game.
For my actual nominations: well, I already called out the Librarians from Metro 2033 in the last Weekly, so they’re in. I also have a deep-seated fear of aquatic enemies, especially in older games where water tended to lack surface transparency and you couldn’t even tell what was moving around down there. The ichthyosaurs from Half-Life? No thanks. After that I kinda struggled to think of something so I almost went with the Xenomorph after all but then I remembered Prey’s Mimics aaaand I’d rather forget them.
Since it’s STALKtober, I feel like I have to give a shout out to the Bloodsuckers from the STALKER games, though a lot of the scariness around them has more to do with locations that you encounter them in. I distinctly remember playing Call of Pripyat and wondering around just looking for things and stumbling into what looked like an abandoned train tunnel and a few steps in, my geiger counter starts going off so I start looking for anomalies (and hopefully some good artifacts to sell). I manuever my way into the back of this tunnel and then I hear the roar of a bloodsucker and realize that I’m basically screwed because there’s not enough room to move around without the risk of stepping into one of the anomalies and it’s very dark and the bloodsuckers turn mostly invisible except when they’re attacking.
The second thing I can think of also has less to do with the specific creature design, but more the sound design around them and that’s the ReDead/Gibdo specifically from Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask. The creature design isn’t that terrifying, but that scream and the tension of trying to figure out if you are far enough away from them for the paralysis to wear off before they jump on you terrified me as a kid. Though I don’t know if I would necessarily classify them as one of the scariest, so I’ll throw some of my noms towards ones already mentioned.
Speaking of Dead Space shoutouts to the Stalkers from the second game, I remember first being locked in a room with them and just seeing them dart around out of the corner of my eye and jumping me when I least expected it.
(Also the Regenerators, few things are scarier than an enemy that refuses to stay down, it’s a lot of what makes Mr.X a menacing prescense, who, is also up there in scariness).
Keeping it in space, if I couldn’t say Giant’s Deep as a whole I would say the Anglerfish from Outer Wilds are very frightening, sleeping still nested inside Dark Bramble until an unfortunate spare farer wakes them up and gets swallowed whole for their trouble.
So at a first glance I guess mine goes:
Anglerfish - Outer Wilds
Stalkers - Dead Space
Regenerators - Dead Space
If I played more scary games I’m sure I’d have more.
Ah Hell House. I remember playing FFVII originally and getting to this boss and being WTF about it all. My immediate assumption was that this was a long game and not all the enemies were going to be winners.
Fast forward 20 years later and I’m facing Hell House in a gladiator arena as it flies above me shooting lightning at me, with full on promenade organs playing in the background. I guess from the in-world perspective, the fact that Shinra made a murder bot but disguised as a house is all kinds of fucked. The house representing something presumably the the poorer people of the slum could only dream of owning up on the plates. The placement of the house as the boss of the Wall Garden coliseum is therefore a statement from the people of the slums, that they can’t trust Shinra or the dream of owning a house, as it is ultimatly destructive.
As a home owner myself gradually becoming more and more aware of the cost in resources required just in upkeep, and considering the importance society has placed on the idea of a house and homeownership, could it be said that all houses are in fact hell houses?
If I wake up in a cold sweat it’ll be thanks to the good old Chryssalids from Xcom. An already dangerous enemy that multiplies by killing your team or civilians? Get me back to the interceptor at once, commander.
Like the name implies they attempt to abduct your soldiers in the same way the chosen do, however unlike the chosen who are programmed to wait a set time before moving in for the kidnap they will do it ASAP. If a group shows up you can have one stun a solider and the other move in for the kidnap. It is awful.
What if Advent got had their own templars that could do what your templars do but there was also a variant that had a sniper rifle and a jetpack that loved getting into the perfect flanking shot? I have lost VIP’s and top soldiers to them consistently in commander difficulty because you forget that if they get activated and they’re on the other side of the map it means nothing if they have a jetpack and can reposition and shoot you in the back.
For top 3 still deciding but Reaper Leviathan from Subnautica made me quit playing the game so that’s a definitive lock for me.
Honestly anything with deep water where you can’t see the bottom can be in this list. The ocean itself can be on this list. I probably couldn’t play Sea of Thieves for example because of that kraken. Deep dark water + horrifying eldritch looking horrors are not my cup of tea.
Can’t go past those pre-patch Curse Frogs in Dark Souls. The sheer terror you felt when you would fall into a room with those googly-eyed rat fucks. Unmatched synthesis of grotesque visual design and genuine threat to the player.
I can’t think of a single other video game enemy that freaks me out like those basilisks do. I don’t mind looking at them or even watching someone else play through the areas they’re in but being in the same (virtual) space as them gives me the same full-body revulsion and immediate panic as when I feel the sensation of an insect crawling on me. Hate it!!!
Been thinking about this one all week, because while there are a lot of horror monsters I adore, it’s quite rare I find them sincerely scary. Probably because I’ve been watching horror films since I was 2 and I’m fairly immune to it. But I’ve come up with a couple:
Mimics in Prey, because they are one of, like, two things to ever effectively jump scare me.
Amalgamates in Undertale, which are more unsettling than scary, really, but it’s one of those game worlds I got into enough that seeing what happened in the True Lab was more sincerely upsetting than the more realistic or less comedic body horrors in other games. The fact that the Amalgamates get a happier ending also makes them more appealing than the often vaguely ableist body horror creatures in other horror stories.
I don’t think any enemy has quite made me go “Oh no” and run in the opposite direction quite like Mr Shakedown (Yakuza 0). He’s big, he has a lot of health, and he can take all my money. Truly scary. Like a resident evil boss, it takes all my resources to put him down, and then another one shows up and he’s stronger than the last. Also he’s a human, the most terrifying monster of them all.