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For anyone who has read some of my older posts, I often accuse recent horror games of being more geared towards action than actually scaring the player. So I figured I would pay tribute to the best baddies that made sure you played the game with all the lights on.
(This list is just an opinion, if you think some enemy got omitted feel free to leave it in the comments section below. While these are the top 10 baddies, they are not really listed in order from least to most scary. Also, I am listing each enemy assuming that you have played the game they belong to. If you don't want the encounter to be spoiled and you haven't heard of one of the enemies, feel free to read a different article. Enjoy!)
GARRADOR – Resident Evil 4 upped the ante in terms of creature design in horror games and the Garrador is the epitome of f*cked up. The creature itself is a hulking humanoid whose eyes have been sewn shut with what appears to be a catcher's mask over its face. Shirtless and scarred, each hand has a tribute to Wolverine in the form of 3 huge metal claws. The Garrador basically hunts by sound so as you attempt to navigate around to its back to shoot its weak spot, one wrong move will cause it to roar and charge you with its claws.
Furthermore, the first encounter with it is very well timed. You walk down into the dungeon and a cutscene will go "hey there's a Garrador chained up next to a lever you need to pull". So of course you cautiously walk over knowing the Garrador will come alive at some point. The thing is though, the Garrador waking up and breaking free of its chains ISN'T signified by a cut scene. It happens without warning and is probably the scariest part of an already knuckle-whitening battle.
Oh and I know that many people have given this slot to another RE4 creature, the Regenerator.
WITCH – The Witch's design itself isn't all that impressive; a semi-nude gray skinned woman with glowing eyes and claws. What DOES make the Witch frightening is the way you encounter her, how much damage she does, and how her location is given away.
Unless you had played Left 4 Dead before or you had already heard about the witch, your first encounter with her was absolutely heart-stopping. You hear a sobbing woman in the distance and go over to investigate. You see a emaciated woman crouched on the ground sobbing and training your flashlight on her you go to investigate assuming she's some kind of survivor you'll get a bonus for. Then all of a sudden BAM! She reveals 6 inch long claws and glowing eyes and screams as she rushes at your team tearing every one of them to shreds.
The genius of the Witch is that even after you encounter one and the surprise factor is gone, hearing one crying in the distance makes your heart stop because you know you're one wrong move from a one or two hit death.
And nothing makes you curse out a teammate more than getting a little notice at the bottom of the screen going: ______ startled the witch!
PYRAMID HEAD – I truly believe that Pyramid Head is THE monster that defines the Silent Hill series. The creature design itself is almost laughable; a bronzed man wearing what appears to be a towel around his waist
wielding a gigantic sword and a helmet that looks like a stunt vehicle ramp.
And yet when forced to fight it, it becomes absolutely terrifying. The fact that Pyramid Head doesn't really make any noise ramps up the tension since the only indication of his location is the scraping of his overlarge sword. Combined with the fact that he is pretty much invincible to your bullets and one of his attacks is a one hit kill and the Pyramid Head encounters become one of the most iconic fights in all of horror gaming. Oh and he's a rapist.
PLASTER SPLICERS – Oh my god, Bioshock is one of the kings of atmosphere and it shows in this flooded basement level. The beauty of this encounter isn't that the fight itself is difficult, but that the set up messes with your head and scares you on a level that could give you a brain aneurysm.
You know how in a horror movie there'll be a statue or some scarecrows and the main character walks past them? And you know in the back of your head you're waiting for them to move and they don't for a long time so you let your guard down? And then suddenly at the last minute when the main character backtracks they moved?!
That's pretty much the Plaster Splicers. You walk into a flooded room and they're all posed in odd ballet form. You walk through them half expecting them to come to life, but they don't. So you walk into a basement where one more is sitting in a chair facing the wall. You walk past, activate your juke-box of power and when you turn around . . . it's staring you in the face! After a frantic battle you let your heart return to normal and then suddenly hits you . . . all the other statues in the room! You equip your strongest gun and run upstairs only to find the statues haven't moved. Phew . . . wait one of them isn't there! Then one by one they come to life and begin attacking. It's not a hard fight since your strongest gun can take them out in one shot by that point but it doesn't stop this set piece from being TERRIFYING.
I was unable to find an image for these guys, my apologies.
CRIMSON HEAD – For those who don't know, the Crimson Head is basically a zombie on steroids with huge claws that only appears when you don't burn a zombie corpse in the first Resident Evil. The tank controls of old RE games actually enhances the fright factor. So you manage to plow down a zombie with a couple well placed pistol shots. You tank down the corridor and go, "Oh balls, I need to go back and burn that corpse".
But when you turn around and take two steps, the zombie is now standing, is pissed off, and is the color of a soiled Chicago Bulls jersey. No sweat, let me just equip a shotg . . . . OH MY GOD HE'S RUNNING LIKE EIGHT TIMES FASTER THAN ANY OTHER ZOMBIE!!!!! Phew I'm behind a door . . . CRACK! Zombie flings open the door and proceeds to snack on you like a $2.00 Denny's special.
Repeat after me: I will burn every zombie within seconds of its death. I will burn every zombie within seconds of its death. I will burn . . .
NECROMORPH SLASHER – I do get on Dead Space's case a lot for repeating pop out scares a lot, but as it stands the standard Necromorph is one of the scariest enemies in gaming history not only for its utterly hideous design, but the fact that you can't kill it with your standard shooter method.
With most enemies in shooter games, a headshot is the get out jail free card. Cornered wit half your health facing a pack of powerful enemies? Headshots! Have a Boomer in an enclosed area in Gears of War? Headshots!
Not this guy!
But since you have to systematically take off the limbs in order to kill a Necromorph, the tension is ramped up tenfold because in encounters with multiple Necromorphs in tight quarter will practically ensure that they will do some damage to you because of how long it takes to kill them.
THE HATE – The Hate may more well be known as "that f*cked up looking final boss from the first Condemned game". The boss itself is intimidating but the fact that Condemned pretty much requires you to get up close to your enemies is what makes this encounter frightening. Most big bosses in horror games (Silent Hill, Resident Evil, Left 4 Dead) allow for firearm usage and so most of the time you have a good bit of distance between them and you.
In Condemned however, you're forced to go toe to toe with the boss AND you kill him by pulling out parts of his freaking body like a twisted game of Operation. Like after I pulled out something from his back, the boss jumped to another level and I had to follow him. I literally sat there and went, "No". I had spent $60.00 on this game and seriously contemplated whether or not I should just turn off my console, take a break and maybe some Valium and try the battle in a week or two.
BROKEN NECK WOMAN – I hold Fatal Frame as an example to horror gaming; you don't need rivers of blood and blades in order to scare. Ghosts that don't obey the laws of nature, a character that isn't exactly suited for combat, and an antique camera that needs to have the enemy be 6 inches from your face to do any real damage? You can see how this may produce some real scares.
For any of you who've seen the Japanese movie "The Eye" (not the shit with Jessica Alba in it), you'll know what I'm talking about. I had long since sold my copy of Fatal Frame I & II to a friend so I had to Youtube the encounter just to make sure that the terror I felt so many years ago was legit. One fresh pair of plastic underpants later, I say yes.
This encounter rooted me to the spot. I wanted to run and say "f*ck this battle" but I couldn't. This woman has her head COMPLETELY broken off to one side and you literally have to wait there and take pictures of her to do damage. And yet she gets closer and closer till you can see her haunted expression. I literally had to steel myself to find an image of this encounter.
ISOLATIONIST – When I first checked out the cover for The Suffering, I saw the picture of that hulking creature with what appeared to be a cage around its head and no pupils and went, "that is the scariest thing I may have ever seen". Then I walked to the checkout line.
Well I am happy to say that the encounter with him in the game doesn't disappoint. What I really like about this fat bastard (not that I have anything against fat people or bastards) is that even when you're not near one, he stills freaks the hell out of you. He moves around on giant blades/crutches which make a sickening scraping noise which this horrible groan so that half the time you WANT to find him and kill him to end the torture.
ALMA – I suppose that it's hard to really consider Alma an enemy, but there's no denying that Monolith's creepy little girl in red scared us more than any gun-wielding baddie or flickering light ever did. It's not even the moments when Alma sends her pseudo-teenage self at you that scares you the most; it's the moments when you barely see her out of the corner of your eye.
The moment when she appears at the top of a ladder when you're climbing down, or when you just see her scampering past a pile of bodies. The fact that you were never pitted in a toe to toe battle against her and that she never died added to the tension because you felt like running screaming like a little girl was the only real defense against this Samara clone.
Hopefully this list got you guys thinking about the enemies and encounters in games that really frightened you and it'd be cool to read about your guys's experiences in the comments section below.