There have been many enemies that have stood in gamers’ paths over the decades, but only a select few have ever managed to inspire feelings of true terror in our hearts. Of these enemies, here are my top ten scariest.
10. The Bear – Condemned 2: Bloodshot
How many horror games have a gigantic, demented, possessed bear chase you through an abandoned warehouse? From the moment it leaps out from behind a doorway you have no choice but to run…and run as fast as you can as Paddington’s cousin tears up the entire building to give you a hug/mauling. And whenever you finally think you’re safe, it suddenly smashes through the wall itself and you’re on the run again. Should you fail to outrun it, and that regularly happens, you’re treated to a lovely cutscene where it mauls your brains out. You’ll never look at your teddy the same way again.
9. The Yeti – SkiFree
As a young school-kid, imagine playing what seemed like a pleasant, innocuous skiing game. Down you go, sliding down the mountainside, having a merry time avoiding the stumps and trees…why, who is this fellow running towards me very, very fas- OH GOD A MONSTER AND IT’S EATING ME! IT’S EATING ME WHOLE!!! What was first intended as a cunning way to restart the game once you’d completed a run resulted in a scenario which scared the living daylights out of a generation of children. And to make matters worse, no matter how fast or perfectly you ski, you are merely delaying the inevitable, because it WILL ultimately get you.
8. The Witch – Left 4 Dead series
The Left 4 Dead series has a menagerie of vicious beasties eager to rip open your spleen. But while the arrival of the Tank, Hunter or Smoker is usually an opportunity to open fire, the sobbing cry of the Witch means it’s time to walk very quietly, turn off your flashlight, and holster your weapon. If you disturb her, then she charges at you with the speed of a zombified mongoose with claws that can stab a survivor at fifty paces. Only the foolhardy dare anger her because if you do, you’re the one she goes after, and if she lands a hit you are downed instantly, or killed to death on the hardest difficulty. Witches are seriously best avoided unless you have no choice but to engage them, and if so, may the god of your choosing have mercy on your soul.
7. Phanto – Super Mario Bros. 2
Not all enemies have to be vicious mutated monsters to get you squirming in fear. The Phantos from Super Mario Bros. 2 are a good example of this. These floating masks with evil smiles only spring into life when you pick up a key which they seem to worship as a god. Well, we can only presume this, because of how they start swooping about the screen intent on inflicting upon you a painful demise. They cannot be defeated, they can only be dodged and jumped over, leaving you yelping in a mixture of frustration and terror until you reach the locked door. There’s definitely something about enemies that try to destroy you with a sadistic smirk on their face…
6. Big Daddy – BioShock series
Some enemies just scream, ‘Stay away because I will annihilate you.’ The Big Daddy is such a beast, a hulking giant who is capable of inflicting horrendous pain. Though it doesn’t attack you on sight. Its main task is to protect the freaky Little Sisters. Going after them and their juicy supply of Adam is when it’s empty-your-bowels time. They come fully equipped with enough guns and explosives to destroy a Russian submarine, not to mention a vicious rotating drill which can gut you like a kipper. But by far the worst moment is that deep breath you take before you fire that first bullet, because you know full well what’s coming next.
5. Your Own TV – Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem
Eternal Darkness is a spooky affair as it is (that bathtub scene anyone?), but is there another game which manages to turn your own TV against you? The game’s unique sanity mechanic, where running from enemies sees you gradually descend into madness, has the intriguing effect of causing the game to simulate hallucinations which screw with you as much as the character. The game pretends to mute itself, crash, hide inventory items and simulate bugs crawling on the screen. Pretty trippy stuff. But nothing compares to the abject horror you experience when the game flashes you a fake message saying that ‘all game save files have been successfully deleted.’ That is as scary as any zombie monster from the great beyond.
4. SA-X – Metroid Fusion
For one of the most badass bounty hunters in the galaxy; a person who has destroyed massive bugs, aliens and the same purple dragon about twenty times, what could possibly be the scariest enemy you could encounter? The answer is a creature which has possessed your old power suit and is now using its power against you. The SA-X does not appear frequently, but throughout the game Samus is significantly underpowered in comparison, so your only option is to avoid it at all costs. A particularly pant wetting section sees it pursuing you with all guns blazing, where one mistimed jump will see it catch up and atomise you. The SA-X gave Metroid fans the chance to experience what it was like going up against a fully-powered Samus, and the result was electrifying.
3. The Hunter – Dead Space
A recurring theme among the scariest of video game enemies is that they can’t be killed. The ones who, no matter how many bullets you discharge, will keep on coming. And the absolute humdinger in this department is The Hunter from Dead Space. Oh, you can damage this psychopathic, bloodthirsty mutant with glowing yellow eyes. But it regenerates any wounds you inflict almost instantaneously, meaning all you are doing is buying yourself time before you inevitably leg it. If that wasn’t enough, consider the way it systematically dismembers Isaac should he get caught by the beast…Yeah…YouTube it if you haven’t any breakfast to bring back up.
2. Twin Victims – Silent Hill 4: The Room
I could so easily have put Pyramid Head in here as the Silent Hill rep and been done with it. But even by Silent Hill’s horrendously freaky standards the Twin Victims take the cake. The re-incarnated form of a pair of twin brothers, it resembles a pair of Siamese infants with literal baby faces, covered in a dark shawl and who prowl around not on legs, but two huge, gangly arms. It sounds bizarre on paper. It looks bizarre on screen. But by God, when you encounter it prowling along a corridor, making freakish guttural noises as it points you with its massive arms/legs with hands, it does an effective job as a makeshift laxative.
1. Verdugo – Resident Evil 4
Picture the scene. You’ve just fought waves of bloodthirsty enemies. You’ve narrowly avoided being spiked to death in one of Salazar’s many deathtraps. Now you’re trapped down the bottom of a well waiting for a lift to arrive and whisk you to safety. Just when things seem like they can’t get any worse…it arrives.
Verdugo has everything. Physically intimidating, fast, unrelenting and incredibly, incredibly hard to kill. The fact that you have to spend four minutes in the company of this beast in severely cramped conditions only makes things ten times worse. Most will simply wait out the clock, ducking and diving out the way of its attacks as the lift ascends. But a few brave souls will stand their ground and empty almost their entire itinerary into the beast, and many of these will undoubtedly find themselves becoming a Leon Kennedy kebab in the process. But if you are one of those who have stood against this vicious demon lord and brought it to justice, then I doff my cap to you.
Got any suggestions of your own? Give us a buzz below…if you dare *insert cheesy, melodramatic laugh here*