It’s almost Halloween, and you know what that means: It’s time for everyone to talk about the scariest things in gaming. We would be remiss not to submit ourselves to the terror of differing opinions on the internet, so we’ve cooked up a list of five of the scariest enemies in video games. As for criteria, we considered not only what’s scary now, but at the time of its release. Jump scares were also avoided. Finally, we included the stipulation of one entry per franchise. As always, this list is an opinion and you are going to disagree with it.
The only entry not from a horror title in any sense of the word, but that fact is what helped the ReDead make this list: Nobody was expecting this from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. By today’s standards the ReDead is quite tame, but the eerie traits mixed with the jarring change of tone in the areas they appear creates a horrifying experience. ReDeads start in a standing or seated fetal position until aggro, when they will try to paralyze Link with their gaze, repeatedly scream bloody murder, then latch onto him and proceed to bite furiously.
While they aren’t particularly deadly when you know what to do, the first encounter was always the worst. The weirdness didn’t stop there though. Killing a ReDead near others would cause them to come over and crouch near the body. With the limitations of the Nintendo 64 it was left up to the player’s imagination as to whether they wear mourning a fallen friend or feeding on the corpse.
4) Plague Babies
What would the aborted child of Wolverine look like if it were thrown into a blood swamp? There’s no need to imagine it, simply step into the final portion of Demon’s Souls‘ Valley of Defilement, a literal swamp filled with the blood of aborted children. While not particularly dangerous on their own, they swarm in packs, have rapid plague-laced attacks, and can respawn infinitely. Being surrounded by endless droves of these little hellions will teach you fear.
On top of that, they look disturbingly grotesque up close. The only reason they don’t rank higher on this list is that they can be completely avoided quite easily in their one solitary appearance. Players can either face Garl Vinland to bypass them or throw Depraved Ones into the water below for them to feast on.
3) Pyramid Head
Probably the most common number one pick in the survival-horror genre, and for good reason. His mere appearance invokes discomfort. He’s physically imposing, sturdily built, and his sole purpose is to bring punishment to those who need and deserve it. Pyramid Head is the ceremonial executioner of Silent Hill.
If that’s not enough to make you feel the discomfort that radiates from our triangular tormentor, our first glimpse of him in action is as we watch what appears to be sexual assault against a pair of enemy Mannequins. If that made you uncomfortable, get used to it because you’ll see things in a similar vein of twisted sexuality permeating the game and Pyramid Head’s actions.
The Resident Evil franchise is full of terrors to choose from. It was hard to narrow it down when it came to the Zombie Dog, the Chimera, and the Regenerators. The Zombie Dog isn’t particularly scary, but it certainly deserved to be mentioned for providing the first true scare for many in the PSX era. The Chimera was certainly one of the most scariest individuals to arise from the franchise, but even it fell short in comparison to the Regenerator
Regenerators prey on primal fears in humans. The ragged breathing, the humanoid shape with unnatural movement, the squirming and writhing, the sickening sloppy noises when they’re regenerating, their uncanny ability to absorb normal damage, and the unexpected lunges. Everything about these creatures is made to trigger revulsion and dread, and that feeling starts before you even see them.
1) The Shadow
As scary as the thought of playing Shadow the Hedgehog may be, this is about the Shadow featured in Amnesia: The Dark Descent. The Shadow comes from the “Old Ones” brand of Lovecraftian horror that’s coming back in vogue these days, along with the belief that the unseen is what’s truly scary. The monster itself is invisible but its presence is clearly expressed by red light, shadowy masses, and a trail of fleshy residue. Just coming close to it can deplete one’s sanity and the only way to gain some relief is to place yourself in greater danger.
Nothing can stop the Shadow, players can only flee from it and hide. Mystery surrounds this creature and nothing is ever fully explained, taking advantage of man’s greatest fear: The unknown. Playing Amnesia: The Dark Descent alone at night, with the lights off, will make you a believer in this number one pick.
Was your favorite not on the list? Want to tell us how bad we messed up or what your list was? Well feel free to prove us wrong in the comments.