With Halloween right around the corner, the spooks come out to play as everyone dives into their favorite horror games. Be it psychological, gory, or just a mass of jumpscares, everyone has something they enjoy from the genre. And with every good game, there is some fantastic scary monsters or villains to face. Some are terrifying to look at, while others just give us a reason to hate them. But all are memorable in their own way and you can’t spell horror without them! These are my top 10 monsters in horror games.
10. The Child (Catherine)
One of the more underrated games Atlus helped bring to the west, Catherine is both a puzzle platformer as well as psychological horror. You follow the troubled Vincent Brooks through the dark corners of his subconscious as he bounces and scrambles his way up a haunting tower of blocks trying to figure out his love life between two women who share the same name.
At the end of each chapter, Vincent must avoid a disturbing demon of his own making to serve as the boss he must “defeat” to get closer to his ultimate goal. These monsters range from something simple like the twisted hand of his girlfriend Katherine to something as bizarre as a literal butt with a face.
The boss in the third chapter known as “The Child” comes not long after Katherine voices the concern that she’s pregnant. This manifested into a horrific infant cyborg who has a chainsaw for an arm.
“The Child” represents Vincent’s fears about both becoming a father and losing his freedom due to parental responsibilities. As the baby’s screams for its father maniacally the farther he climbs, the features grow even more frightening as teeth become its eyes and its mouth sports a gun, haunting any expecting parent easily with each encounter. Though only a one-off boss, it’s no less chilling to see and bring so much symbolism to an already fantastic game where the only goal is to keep climbing.
9. Gatherers (Amnesia: The Dark Descent)
Amnesia is one of those horror titles that helped define the genre in a new light, giving rise to many other games that would use similar formulas. Even to this day, the atmosphere of Castle Brennenburg is one which will leave chills down your spine as you fumble your way through the crumbling stone prison you’re trapped in.
One of the biggest threats the protagonist, Daniel, encounters in his search is the grotesque humanoid-like creatures known as the Gatherers. You never get a good look at them until it’s too late, but when you do, it’s hard not to stare as their massive dislocated jaws and dead fish eyes.
Gatherers are the reanimated form of soldiers who deserted their station and fled into the woods. Their disfiguration is caused by drinking poisoned wine which ruptured their insides. With no way to combat them, you’re forced to run and hide from their uneven gaze otherwise, their giant claws slice you to ribbons. And even when you don’t see one, every step towards progress can lead to one being summoned nearby, so you’re always on your toes. Expect an old empty wardrobe to be your best friend when these monsters are on the prowl. Just be sure to have plenty of oil and tinderboxes at the ready afterwards.
8. Nemesis (Resident Evil 3)
One of Capcom’s most famous and beloved franchises, Resident Evil has its fair share of horrifying and memorable enemies to combat, which have left players wanting more to this very day with the recent string of remakes. Fighting zombies and other scientific creations gone wrong, it’s hard not to pick out a memorable enemy in each of the titular games.
The most well known recurring figure in the series I have to give to Nemesis, being at the forefront of the third installment with his signature growl of “S.T.A.R.S” every time he’s on-screen. Wherever Jill goes, Nemesis is sure to be on her tail, possibly sporting a rocket launcher if you’re not careful. If not that, then well, beware of the tentacles, as we saw what happened to the pilot from the first game.
Designed by the Umbrella Corporation and named after the Greek goddess of vengeance, this enemy, much like its earlier Tyrant counterparts, is a force unto itself as he smashes through any and all obstacles to complete his mission: eliminating all operatives of S.T.A.R.S no matter the cost. Surprisingly stealthy despite his size, Nemesis will come at Jill at the most inopportune moments ready to kill with a well-timed swing or slash. Leaving the player to either run or waste a ton of ammo and resources to temporarily take him down. And I do mean temporary as his regenerative capabilities make him super hard to kill. Add smarts and a scary face full of wires and rotting flesh, you have a deadly combination that will give you nightmares. Hope you packed a lot of weapons for this one, or you will become a Jill sandwich yourself.
7. Specimen 6 (Spooky’s Jumpscare Mansion)
Originally called Spooky’s House of Jumpscares, this free to play indie horror game is a unique blend of cute and creepy as you traverse 1,000 rooms to try and escape this nightmare of a maze. You are guided by a mysterious ghost girl who may or may not be a force for great evil. The jury is still kinda up on that.
While most of the actual scares are goofy pop-up cartoon characters, scattered throughout the labyrinth are set monsters of varying difficulties you need to avoid. If you don’t, you will end up dead and trapped in the maze forever. Known as specimens, these varying hostile creatures will chase you down for several rooms and even if you attack them with your axe it only slows them down. Your only hope is they get bored and move on.
One that many players including myself find disturbing is Specimen 6 AKA Ben, a wooden marionette with a face resembling that of the Happy Mask Salesman from Majora’s Mask. A reference to the creepypasta Ben Drowned mixed with the Weeping Angels of Doctor Who, this disturbing puppet will stalk you with a smile and will only strike when your back is turned, making him one of the more difficult enemies to avoid. And you have to be moving as well, otherwise, he vanishes and attacks you dealing a massive amount of damage. Expect this Pinocchio rip-off to haunt your dreams while the sound of clicking wood eerily plays in the background.
6. Scissorman (Clock Tower series)
An unexpected gem on the Super Nintendo in 1995, Clock Tower is a unique point and click and survival horror game, which has become a cult classic among players. This chilling story would go on to spawn 3 sequels and two spiritual successors, Haunting Ground and NightCry.
Throughout the game, you’re attempting to solve a variety of mysteries while being randomly chased by the vicious Scissorman who is relentless in his (or her in one game’s case) pursuit of cutting you down with his gigantic shears. Much like in Amnesia, you have no way to combat him and must rely on speed and stealth to escape a deadly demise. You never know when he’s gonna strike but can always recognize him by the sting of the orchestra and the snip of his scissors when he enters a room.
In most iterations, Scissorman is a human in disguise, but it is heavily implied the first incarnation we meet in-game, Bobby Barrows, is a demon with a craving for flesh. Given his behavior showing childish glee as he stalks his prey and violently murdering Jennifer’s friends one by one in gruesome ways, it’s no wonder he can haunt your nightmares with his giggling and the sound of his shears. Don’t trust that basket or mannequin, because someone might just be ready to pounce at you in an instant.
5. Legion (Castlevania)
The Castlevania series has a large list of unique monsters that pop up from every game. It includes homages to old movie monsters such as the Wolf Man or Frankenstein’s monster with Count Dracula being at the forefront of all of it. With so many to choose from, it’s hard to narrow down a favorite.
So best to go with one of the most recurring bosses with the most distinct design: Legion. Otherwise known as Granfalloon in its debut game, Symphony of the Night. Its name derived from a biblical source, Legion is depicted as a floating sphere protected by an outer shell of an unidentified number of human corpses. This outer wall hides a core that can take on multiple different forms depending on which game it’s in.
To fell the beast, the player must break through the outer shell of bodies to gain access to the core. This can be a tricky task as the shell comes to life when it falls off, either in the form of fleshy zombies that shamble about or infectious maggots or even just bodily fluids.
Its movement can also be erratic and shoot lasers from its tentacles at the player once exposed, again depending on the iteration it takes within each game. In fact, this creature is one of the reasons Curse of Darkness got an M rating, that’s how disturbing this ball of bodies really is. It’s also memorable enough to make an appearance in the Netflix series. Little hard to ignore that many zombies at once. Best ready that holy water and cross, you’re gonna need it.
4. Sachiko Shinozaki (Corpse Party series)
Corpse Party is one of those series from XSeed that has a very divisive fan base depending on whether they experienced the games or the anime/OVAs first or even what version of the games you experienced first. Originally starting out as an RPG Maker game, the game would eventually be remade multiple times onto various consoles with the story and characters growing larger and more complicated every year.
One character who has remained fairly consistent throughout the course of all those changes has been the main villain and only ghost on this list: Sachiko Shinizaki, the girl in the red dress. An unfortunate victim of a teacher’s cruelty, be it an unwanted advancement which lead to her being shoved off a roof or strangled to death by her principal after witnessing her mom’s accidental murder, little Sachiko has not had it easy. And it didn’t get easy for her after death either as her spirit twisted and warped into a vengeful poltergeist, summoning a cursed school to serve as her base of operation leading unsuspecting students to gruesome and untimely deaths.
Drawing similarities to other vengeful spirits in Japanese horror titles like The Ring or The Grudge, Sachiko stands out not just in her signature red dress but in how she operates. Often when she doesn’t send her minions out to do her dirty work, she plays the quiet innocent little girl looking for a friend. Lulling her victims into a false sense of security before striking with her signature bloody scissors, cackling wildly in glee as she watches them suffer long into the afterlife. For in her realm of Heavenly Host, you suffer the pain of your death for all eternity. It’s even creepier knowing her voice actor for most of the series is also the voice of Pikachu. Try sleeping with that knowledge knowing Pokemon’s mascot is torturing students for fun and laughing maniacally about it the whole time.
3. Laura (Evil Within)
A spiritual successor to Resident Evil directed by Shinji Mikami himself, this series takes an interesting twist of flashy gore and psychological horror to a heavy degree. We follow detective, Sebastian Castellanos, into the mind of a tortured soul seeking vengeance on the world for his troubled past.
Throughout the course of the game, all sorts of hellish abominations come at the police officer with great intent to kill, all harboring subtle hints of symbolism related to the main villain Ruvik or even towards the other souls trapped in this machine known as MOBIUS. One of the most deadly enemies seen early on in the game is a spider-like monster known as Laura, whose story is wrapped in tragedy as long as her limbs.
A horrific reincarnation of Ruvik’s older sister of the same name who sacrificed herself in a barn fire to save his life. This abomination was the result of his loss and vengeance manifesting along with his rage. Laura is a force to be reckoned with as you scramble to try and ignite her without letting her get a hold of you. And even if you do manage to knock her down long enough, if there’s a corpse in the room she will quickly regenerate from that spot and the cycle begins anew. Much of the fight is the player trying to stay moving because you don’t want to be caught in her grasp because you will lose your head.
2. The Butcher (Diablo)
While initially considered an action-adventure game, Blizzard’s infamous title at its core has a variety of horror elements to it. From the lore pertaining to the war of angels and demons to the imagery of blood and bodies lining the walls as you descend further and further into the catacombs of Tristram trying to prevent literal hell from taking over the mortal world.
One of the first major bosses you encounter early in the game is The Butcher, a large hulking demon armed with nothing but a cleaver, his signature catchphrase of “Fresh Meat” echoing through his domain of freshly mutilated corpses.
For new players at lower levels, he is easily a death sentence as he relentlessly pursues you trying to get you into close quarters to hack you up and add your body to his collection. Ranged weapons and spells may be your only saving grace towards this threat unless you avoid his lair to up your stats, but even then hand to hand combat may not be enough as he wildly swings his cleaver right for your head. He’s had a major upgrade in the third game, but none can compete with the very first meeting of this bloodthirsty monster as he craves your flesh to present it on a pike in his living room.
1. Pyramid Head (Silent Hill 2)
Silent Hill is easily praised as one of the most terrifying psychological horror franchises that helped revolutionize the genre from its initial release in the late ’90s. The disturbing atmosphere of this cursed foggy town gives the players a sense of dread with each step and unnerving sound.
Add an iconic monster in the mix and you have a recipe for disaster. So what better monster to encapsulate all that then Pyramid Head with his massive red helmet and a giant knife. Initially appearing in the second installment of the franchise, Pyramid Head serves as a manifestation of the protagonist James Sunderland’s guilt and desire for punishment due to his sketchy past involving his wife. At first, he stays a respectable distance, judging James and seemingly biding his time, though it doesn’t last for long.
In no time the player encounters him more regularly, forced to barely stave off a fight or run and watch as he continuously and violently murders Maria, the girl serving as the substitute for James’ late wife, as an act of punishment. Every run-in with this figure is terrifying since you can’t kill him. You can only dodge his Great Knife long enough to survive until more of the story is pieced together and the true horror is revealed. For in the end, who is the true monster in all this?
These are just my thoughts, but what are yours? What monsters from video games do you enjoy? Let me know in the comments below, and have a Happy Halloween everybody!