Video games have an opportunity to provide us with horror in ways that television and film can not. A video game puts us in control. We decide our fate and we're the ones that need to figure out how to escape a deadly nightmare. Sometimes control is good and sometimes it's terrifying to literally have the power of life and death in these game worlds. On these twisted journeys through nightmares we will find monsters and villains of course, but some leave more of an impression than others. That in mind we have compiled this list. For one reason or another, I believe that these characters have something to offer a true horror fan, even if sometimes you have to dig deep to see it. After all, horror is nothing without imagination.
The Top Ten Scariest Video Game Monsters and Villians of All Time
10. The W Star (Drahkken, SNES)
So to claim anything scary can happen in this particular title may seem odd at first, but there are a few moments that are noteworthy at least to nerds as big as we are. Drahkken is an old RPG from the early nineties which tried to utilize a three-dimensional, first person environment. It couldn't be called successful implementation (at least not in the SNES port) but did make the game unique for it's time. One aspect of the game was time change, days passed more or less normally as you were playing. As with so many frightening events, nightfall hit is when the terror strikes. The player would notice the many stars in the sky, shining quite brightly. As you trek forward you may notice a W-shaped set of stars in the sky,
|The Monster itself|
HELL is that?!" and proceed to fight this thing, hoping you're leveled up enough to take it on. This occurance actually happens with multiple sets of stars in this game bringing out different monsters.The first time we saw this though was with this set, earning the name we gave it, the W Star. While the monster itself is certainly horror material (for 1991 anyway) but the really element of terror comes from how bizarre and unexpected it is. Who expects the sky itself to attack you?
9. The Cyberdemon (DOOM, PC)
One of the greatest first-person bosses of all time in arguably the greatest first person shooter of all time. The Cyberdemon's level starts off with a warning, as you first enter his level their are dead Barons of Hell chained up on the wall (which, before this point your hapless space marine assumes are the baddest thing on two legs). Once you open one of the four doors leading to the exterior of his arena-like stage, and see the flaming skulls known as lost souls. Inevitably, you will sneer at this relatively simple and weak monster, and take it out with your shotgun. However, upon the first shot of your rifle ringing out into the air, you'll hear a staggering and terrifying roar from an unknown source, followed by an unknown "crash-BOOM!" sound which continuously repeats. You realize something else is here with you. And it is big. And it is coming for you. This is Cyberdemon making his presence known to you. What will likely happen next is that you will step out into the open area, turn a corner or two, and in the distance you'll see something. "What is - " will likely be all you have time to think before a missle comes flying right into your face, instantly splattering you all over Hell's floor. Although it's hard to get close enough for a look, the Cyberdemon gets his name from the steel, cybernetic right leg he sports and the rocket launcher inexplicably grafted on to his left arm. The rest of this towering hell beast includes a hooved left leg, huge black horns on the sides of his head, and all kinds of red, bloody wires sticking in and out of him. It's not good enough that all of Hell is trying to tear you apart, but now they're using cybernetic technology to do it with. What makes the Cyberdemon so terrifying is that he's incredibly large, incredibly strong, and is equipped with a one hit kill with unlimited ammo. Technically if you have 200% health, Doom Guy might take the first hit, but it's not a guarantee. Only experienced players can go toe-to-toe with this behemoth, most of you will have to run for you life, taking it whatever shots become available to you. The goat-legged Cyberdemon's discouraging endurance, terrifying attack power and horrifying looks give him a sure position among scariest video game monsters.
8. Michael Myers (Halloween, Atari 2600)
It might seem laughably improbable that an Atari game could do anything in the way of scaring you, but read on. In this game, you wander a house which is a series of seemingly endless hallways, taking children to the safe rooms and looking for a weapon. Meanwhile, every time you enter a room (other than safe rooms) within seconds you'll be confronted by Michael Myers, with an Atari-appropriate version of the classic Halloween theme playing during his screen time, "Dee doo doo dee doo doo dee doo dee doo dee doo doo dee doo doo..." as the collection of pixels known as Michael Myers stalks towards you in a constant stabbing motion with the four or five white pixels that make up his "knife." If he gets you, you'll enjoy a rather humorous animation of your female character running frantically with her head cut off, red dots spewing from her neck. Michael will also decapitate the children if you let him, and I do mean "if you let him," as the game allows you to grab onto the children to take them to safe rooms for points, but you may also decide to use them as bait, as Michael seems more interested in killing them rather than you. So at first this isn't scary, just silly. But as levels progress, and you continue to stab Myers with the black knife, which for some reason you can only use once and then have to seek it out again, he gets faster and most aggressive until soon, you can barely outrun him. What's worse is that you'll enter rooms with faulty "wiring" causing the screen to flash from normal to pitch black while Michael's in the room with you. "Oh God, where am I?" you'll wonder and you hope to have run past the derranged mad man, only to find yourself headless once the lights come back on. With time, Michael Myers will make this one of your most stressful experiences in gaming.
7. Mr. Graves (Haunted House, Atari 2600)
Another Atari release. This time, you are in as the name suggests, a haunted house, trying to escape with all of the pieces of the urn of Mr. Graves. You enter the dead man's mansion and wander around, your character only being a part of eyes. You hit the button to light a match which will give you a small orb of visibility. Only with the match lit can you find items and realistically navigate the black squares and lines that make up this house. There are a few enemies like an errant bat or two, but they're fairly easy to navigate around. So so far it's not very scary. However when entering certain floors, you may hear a noise which could be either thunder or wind. Then suddenly, the ghost of Mr. Graves appears and he blows out your match, leaving you essentially blind and helpless as he chases you down. Sure, he may look like one of those sheet-wearing ghosts from the cartoons, but this guy's not playing around. Something about the speed and frantically waving arms of this character gets you all high strung and desperate to escape. Should Mr. Graves, or any of his buddies such as the bat or spider touch you, your little eyes will violently roll around as thunder and lightning strike, costing you one life. This game is considered to be a classic and even prompted a remake on the Wii under the same name (which is somehow less frighting even with 2 years of technological advances.
6. Jason (Friday the 13th, NES)
The Hockey Masked killer we all know and love naturally got his own video game back in the day. However it wasn't exactly the greatest piece of media you could own. That being said One thing this title has going for it, is it's undeniable ability to give you a cheap scare. The main idea was that you wander camp Crystal Lake, killing zombies, wolves, bats, and birds until an alarm sounds, indicating that Jason is attacking either the campers or a fellow counselor. You check the map to see which cabin was in distress and race to the location before time runs out. Upon reaching the cabin, the inhabitant(s) thank you for coming, and you search the cabin in pseudo-3D mode. This is where the scare takes place. As you turn corners and advanced forward, eerie but calm music would play as you found a lot of corners and spaces. Then without warning Jason appears before you. A loud and horrifying noise blares while Jason, tries to punch, slice, or axe you to death. You use whatever projectile you have to try and defeat him while dodging his attacks, repeating this entire process until he's gone. But Jason doesn't only appear in cabins. Without warning, you can be walking along the dirt road, totally care-free (as the zombies are annoying but far from scary), and them BAM - it's Jason! Hurling axes at you will sporting his baby blue hockey mask and purple jogging suit. Jason is also sometimes randomly in a cabin that isn't even inhabited. These random appearances are actually sort of the genius as being attacked totally out of the blue is something even modern games miss. Even if he looks silly, Jason IS very unpredictable and can get the jump on you like he did so many randy teenagers in his classic films. This game will never be noted for it's quality but is noted for its intense difficulty. Taking down Jason is a slow, methodical process that spans three stressful "days" and will likely be fruitless to you in the end.
YOU AND YOUR FRIENDS ARE DEAD. GAME OVER.
5. Nemesis (Resident Evil III, Playstation)
Resident Evil III eschews some of the main mechanics in there series. Instead of slowly peeking down dark hallways in the hopes of taking out your zombies before they get close enough to rip a few chunks out of your flesh, you spend the entire game running for your life. In essence, as you play through this game, you are constantly being stalked by Nemesis, a mutated version of Tyrant, or in other words, a really big, really powerful zombie. However, unlike Tyrant, Nemesis doesn't simply rely on brute strength, he has a rocket launcher with an endless supply of rockets. We really do mean constantly being stalked. You never get a respite (other than the safe save rooms), at every point in the game you're essentially running from him, and he's never too far away. He'll burst through doors and crash through walls to get to you, all the while never quickening his step beyond a walk. There's nothing like the feeling of constantly being chased, and Nemesis will never allow you a moment of ease, making him a high ranking monster in the video game world. The fact that he's a huge, lumbering pile of rotted flesh helps as well.
4. Sae (Fatal Frame II, Playstation 2)
All of the Fatal Frame series is absolutely terrifying. The concept of Fatal Frame is that you are attacked by ghosts and aparitions, but you cannot attack them, merely snap pictures of them to harm them. It sounds a little silly but it's absolutely terrifying. Fatal Frame II takes things up a notch. So you take the powerlessness of that situation, tack on the detail of not having even your camera, and then include a demonic ghost child which will kill you instantly with just a touch, you've got yourself a game that even a hardcore horror fan isn't necessarily eager to try and tackle. You're in a labrynthine area full of dead ends and little hope and Sae, an evil 15 year old girl who was murdered as an act of ritual sacrifice, stalks you while eliciting horrifying laughs and a exhibiting a taste for death. Go ahead, run into a different room and close the door behind you. Sae will open it up and follow you right in there. Hide in a closet, hope for the best, but if she thinks he knows where you are, she'll open that door right up. In the split second opportunity you'll have to run, you'd better hope you don't find a dead end, or you will indeed be finished. You can't kill her, you can't hurt her, you can only run. In most instances that's just delaying the inevitable.
3. Piggsy (Manhunt, Playstation 2)
2. Pyramid Head (Silent Hill 2, Playstation 2)
1. Sinistar (Sinistar, Arcade Coin-Op)
"Run, Coward! Run Run Run!" There's only one thing worse than a giant, interstellar juggernaut chasing you down and hell bent on catching and devouring you. It's hearing him tell you about it. Yes, Sinistar is the original badass of the video game world and with good reason. Never before had a video game villain had such personality and such charisma while being so unstoppable. The idea of Sinistar is that aliens are working to build a huge monster known as the Sinistar, a demonic face among a circular border which flies powerfully and without inhibition throughout the universe. To destroy this beast, you must take your tiny ship and shoot planetoids to mine crystals to make Sinibombs, made from the same crystals which are used to build Sinistar, himself. There is no time to fool around. The sounds of Sinistar's construction act as a ticking clock of sorts as you race to be ready for the monster once he is completed. "Beware, I live!" exclaims Sinistar from somewhere deep in space as he announces his own completion. You pray that you have enough bombs to smash the Sinistar as you race away, Sinistar hot in pursuit. "I hunger, coward!" He shouts, revealing his intentions. "Run, coward!" As the huge monster comes closer, you shoot off all of your Sinibombs. You hear his terrifying screams as the bombs connect. He has taken damage but a moment later you come to the heart-sinking realization that not all of the bombs connected, having been intercepted by planetoids and smaller aliens. And now Sinistar is after you, chasing you down with no distraction, no diversion, and no mercy, knocking planetoids out of his way as if they were mere marbles. He's right behind you, as you race as fast as you can into endless space, twisting and turning, unable to shake him. What will you do? The answer - nothing. You can do nothing now. Inevitably, Sinistar will catch up to you. "RAAAAAARGGHHH!" he roars as your ship spins out of control and is pulled to his mouth as if caught in a tractor beam. Finally, as you enter that terrible maw, his teeth snap snap down, shattering your ship into dozens of tiny pieces. Approximate play time: 35 seconds. It's hard to believe a game like this was available in 1982, and it's even harder to believe the cult following it still has, today. There is perhaps no game that imbodies a seemingly inescapable chase better. Perhaps no other game can instill this kind of stress and fear in the player, either. Sinistar was a game that was well ahead of its time, and Sinistar is a villain that simply can't be matched as a character or a villain. Sure, you can destroy him. But he'll be back. And one way or another...he's gonna get you. Although this character and game may not be expected by many contemporary gamers, fanw of classic gaming, know Sinistar truly deserves to enjoy the top tier of the scariest video game monsters/villains of all time. He was groundbreaking, he was legendary, and most of all...he was terrifying.
When it originally appeared this list was largely written by regular contributor Richard, this 2013 reboot has been edited with a more general tone.
Don't forget to stop by our shop:
Don't forget to stop by our shop: