With Halloween just gone, readers name the most frightening opponents in gaming – from Necromorphs to ReDeads.
This weeks Hot Topic asked whats the most terrifying opponent youve ever faced in a video game, whether it was in an actual horror game or not. What makes for truly scary enemies and whats the most important thing to get right in their design?
It may have the reputation of being one of the least scary of the series but the Regenerators from Resident Evil 4 were one of the most common suggestions, as well as the alien from Alien Isolation, and just about anything from Silent Hill.
Head bad guy
He got a bit overused in later sequels but Id say definitely Pyramid Head from Silent Hill 2. That whole game is terrifying, with plenty of other scary monsters, but Pyramid Head is this perfect mix of weird and unknowable and unbeatable that I cant think of any way hes been bettered in all these years.
The problem of course, and you see this in movies all the time, is that as soon as something is popular it just gets used to death. Although I blame the fans for this as well, as theyre often the ones pushing for it too. The alien has go to be the worst example as theyve not only ruined it through overexposure but they even drained all the mystery out of the Space Jockey as well.
Thats one area where Pyramid Head is still doing okay though, in that I dont think they ever explained exactly what he was. I think there was some suggestion he/they used to be prison guards or something but Im not sure thats canon. Either way I dont want to know, the more mysterious the scarier he is.
I would have to say the ReDeads in The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, especially when playing in the dark late at night. When you go near them the music starts. Then all of a sudden they make a horrible screech which stops you in your tracks. And when they finally jump on you and, for lack of a better word, hump you the noise they make is quite creepy as well.
Honourable mentions go to Alma Wade from the F.E.A.R. series, the animals when they suddenly attack in the Far Cry games, and those creepy people in the village near the start of Bloodborne.
One of the few adversaries I can remember being truly freaked out by was that hench-creature of Salazars in Resident Evil 4 (the thing that looked like a cross between the xenomorph and some sort of giant insect), when its sent after Leon in the sewers under the castle. The way the camera switched to its viewpoint as it closed in was reminiscent of the Hunter following you through the garden and back into the mansion in the first Resident Evil – one of the high scare points of that game. The fact that at that point it still hadnt revealed itself uncloaked just added to the tension. I recall it took me a while to figure out how to take it down (freezing it with the nitrogen canisters, I do believe) and I was so glad to get that fight out of the way. Brrrrrrrrrr.
Props, also, to chainsaw dude from Resi 4 – the way he keeps getting up, Michael Myers style, and inexorably pursuing you, despite having just taken three or four magnum rounds to his sackcloth head… Ill never forget the first time he caught up with me and I witnessed Leons decapitation animation. Compared to the preceding games, that was truly brutal, nay, shocking, stuff. Resident Evil had come of age…
E-mail your comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Song of the dread
The Dark Souls games have a lot of elements in horror but Bloodborne even more so and a lot of those enemies are absolutely horrifying. But I think the absolute worst are what I now know to be called Winter Lanterns. If youve played the game theyre the sort of humanoid thing with a giant disgusting brain for a head. I saw them first in a secret area of the Fishing Hamlet, but theyre also in the Nightmare Frontier and Nightmare of Mensis.
Apart from being gross and building up your frenzy meter if they just look at you they sign this horrible song as they go and are just completely creepy. I remember being right in the middle of the Fishing Hamlet area and my courage just left me. I was alive but miles from a save point and knowing these things were around me was just oppressive and scary I felt almost paralysed.
An amazing game!
You gotta believe
Dont know if this counts but the scariest enemy in a game for me came from Project Zero 3. It wasnt the ghosts in particular but more the setting, atmosphere and sound design that freaked me out.
I am cynical as it is about the existence of spirits but playing this game makes me forget that. It is so eerie and full of jump scares and music that creates such a tense experience. I would recommend it to anyone with a PlayStation 2. I think GC likes the second one best but I havent played it yet.
GC: Thats our favourite, yes. Although the main problem with the third is that its simply more of the same.
In terms of scary enemies I have always found that implied or unspecified threats generally create more atmosphere in a game than something of a more direct and obvious danger. We can all recognise the inevitability of being smoked by a dragon or clubbed down a by a giant troll, but in the case of Shadow Of The Colossus enemy #14/Cenobia it is obvious from the opening cinematic that you are facing a fast-moving and ill-tempered opponent whose behaviour will have to be exploited to make progress within the game.
The programming in the game is so effective that when you shoot the creature with arrows to provoke it into action, it will make eye contact in your direction and in true Hitchcock tradition your imagination does the rest.
Another example, though in a quite different vein was the Tonberry enemy character in Final Fantasy X (my first Fantasy game) whose small stature and initial slow movement definitely lets you know something is heading your way, but what precisely?
There are many other examples readily available, but I have always found the best moments are to be found in non-horror type games when you are least prepared for what comes next, if you are engaged in a fight against hordes of zombies exploding heads and the odd evisceration are only to be expected.
Less is certainly sometimes more effective.
PS: An honourable mention should go to the dog through the window moment in the original Resident Evil (in case no-one else does!)
The scariest game villain I have fought would be the goombas in Super Mario Bros. 2 on the Nintendo 3DS.
GC: Apart from anything… there arent any goombas in Super Mario Bros. 2?
Kill it with fire
There have been many video game enemies that have troubled me over the years, but most of them have either been due to my inability to defeat them (to my shame, Ive never quite been able to complete Super Metroid due to being unable to fathom a reliable method of beating the virtually invulnerable guardians to penultimate boss Ridleys lair, resulting in me never reaching Ridley with enough health or firepower to overcome him) or the intrinsic difficulties of the levels in which they are found (Im looking at you, spinning lawnmower blades/pinching peg beasts on Manic Miners The Attic screen). However, one game I know contains creatures that actually disturb me to think of as much as they disturbed me to encounter the first time.
Theyre in the Resident Evil series.
No, its not the Regenerators. Ive never seen why they were perceived as scary – youve always got the heat scope by the time you encounter them, which renders them almost pointlessly harmless.
No, its not the zombie dogs bursting into the corridor unexpectedly, although thats still a masterpiece of jump scare deployment.
Its not the Nemesis, the Lickers, Hunters, Leechmen, Crimson Heads or the sack-headed chainsaw guys. Great baddies, a thrill to kill but, for me, never a chill.
Its not anything from Resident Evil 7 (Ive not got around to playing it yet, its still in the backlog) or the sheer horror of the entirety of Resident Evil 6 being so abysmal.
Its the GameCube remake of the originals giant spiders that give me The Fear.
Typically, the first time I encountered one was late one night, just before bed. The cool, calm way the game just flips the camera angle on you as you walk into what I hoped might be a safe room door in the residence to reveal the terrifyingly real horror of what lurks just above your unsuspecting head made my blood freeze. It took me at least a full day after my panic quit and two slightly sleep disturbed nights to pluck up the courage to go back in and see that section through. Even remembering it now makes me want to check under the bed with a rolled-up newspaper at the ready.
When you know where they are and come prepared theyre actually really easy to deal with, but at the time I wasnt expecting something so unnervingly realistic, nor was I fully aware of my latent arachnophobia before that. The way they move and the sounds they make are, to me, the stuff of nightmares. Even the way they die is somehow chill inducing. To make matters worse, a little while later, whilst investigating the mines under the grounds theres something even bigger and far less pleasant! Ive never been more glad of having access to a flamethrower in my life…
Ive returned to the game many times since my first playthrough and still regard it as an absolute classic, but whenever Ive approached those sections Ive had to steel myself and make double sure Im tooled up as much as possible and everything is fully loaded, since sadly taking off and nuking the site from orbit just isnt an option Capcom give you in that scenario.
yourhomeisatrisk (PSN ID)
E-mail your comments to: email@example.com
The small print
New Inbox updates appear twice daily, every weekday morning and afternoon. Letters are used on merit and may be edited for length.
You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word 4Player viewer features at any time, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.