By: Andrew Gellately
Disclaimer: Possible Spoilers
Let’s face it; video games can be scary sometimes! And I’m not just talking about the horror games, but there is a lot of opportunities in other genres that are pure nightmare fuel as well. Some things just look and behave in a frightening manner, others can be scary on a more subconscious level. In the spirit of Halloween, I’m counting down the top ten enemies that I find the most spoopy in these non-horror games:
- The Taken – Destiny: The Taken King
In Destiny, you face off against some nasty aliens who are out to destroy the last remnants of humanity. While there were two scary races in the beginning, the Hive and the Vex, I am going to focus more on the race the Oryx. The eponymous Taken King, who is a Hive god-king with a rather terrifying party trick. He has the power to “take” any alien race, including his own Hive, drag them into his own pocket dimension, corrupt them, and throw them back into the world as his Taken soldiers. These enemies now have new abilities that differentiate them from their normal versions; for example, a normal Hive Wizard simply floats around and shoots blasts of dark energy at you. As a Taken Wizard, they can also spawn Shadow Thralls that can pursue you. Now, one thing that makes the Taken scary is that they are made of all the enemy alien races you’ve faced: yes, even the enigmatic Vex, which are almost beyond comprehension on how they actually function or came to be, can become Taken. The other thing is that, if you pay attention to their phantom-like appearance, they seem to be twitching a lot. It’s like they’re struggling to regain control of themselves from the Taken corruption. Imagine being in their place. Scary? Yes, I thought so too.
- Snacker the Shark – Banjo-Kazooie
Imagine this: you’ve arrived at Treasure Trove Cove for the first time, and you head off to look for some more Jiggies to get through the game. And hey, look at that! You found a Jinjo in the water! You jump in and swim towards the guy but foreboding music starts to play. Then a shark starts talking about you becoming his next lunch before the shark himself appears out of nowhere and chases after you. Yep, fun time in Banjo-Kazooie is over, because Snacker the Shark has arrived! If you don’t get out of the water right now, you’re going to become a two-course meal. Sharks are a generally feared enemy in video games, often popping up in water levels or aquatic areas in general as a serious threat. In many games that have sharks, one attack from these apex predators of the sea will instantly kill you. However, Snacker is on the more merciful side, as one attack from him will only take off a honeycomb of health. But as long as you’re in the water, he will still pursue you until you get to safety, or you’re dead. Enjoy your swim!
- Chain Chomps – Mario Series
Now the Chain Chomp isn’t really outwardly scary, but can be seen as scarier on a subconscious level. Just look at it: a black ball with a hungry gaze, sharp teeth, barking like a dog, erratic, unpredictable movements that keep you on your toes, and lashing out at one of our portly plumber heroes every few seconds. Shigeru Miyamoto’s inspiration to create this enemy came from a childhood experience with a dog, which ran up to him and tried to bite him, but its chain held it back from reaching him. Gee, thanks Mr. Miyamoto for sharing that experience with us through this enemy! But like that ferocious doggy that Mr. Miyamoto faced, most Chain Chomps can be avoided by staying out of the range of its chain, which will make you nice and safe – though, in certain cases, the Chain Chomp can chase after you, which is a pretty scary experience.
Though they initially only started out as big as small Mario, much bigger varieties of this enemy have started to appear in later Mario games, as well as their spinoffs. Many Chomps are actually big enough to swallow people whole if they wanted to. Whether big or small, chained or free, these guard dogs for Bowser can be unpredictable, which can be a frightening thing to deal with, especially if you’re without any power-ups.
- The Sorrow – Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
If one were to think about it, the combination of stealth gameplay, action-packed set pieces, impressive boss fights, lengthy cut scenes, politics, philosophy, some humor, and even some supernatural stuff make the Metal Gear games a rather unusual series. Especially if you can’t wrap your head around the complex, interconnected plot of the games. But let’s take a look at one of the more supernatural things in the series, and that’s the existence of The Sorrow.
The Sorrow is, or rather was, a member of the Cobra Unit back in World War II that acted as a spiritual medium, allowing him to communicate with the souls of dead soldiers, as well as assume their combat capabilities by bringing their spirits into himself. He was killed by his squad leader and lover, The Boss, in 1962 in Russia. However, The Sorrow’s spirit remained tied to the living world, and over the course of the game has appeared numerous times in a variety of cut scenes, sometimes helping Naked Snake in some way.
However, it’s his boss “fight” that’s the real spooky thing here. After escaping the enemy by making a high dive into a river, the main character, Snake, encounters The Sorrow in the spiritual realm. Snake has to walk down a seemingly endless river, while The Sorrow forces him to face the spirits of the men that Snake has killed during his mission, which can be as few as the four other Cobra Unit bosses if you’ve been playing non-lethally, or as much as a small army if you’ve killed just about everybody. An unnerving experience for sure. As if it wasn’t scary enough, during the trek down the river the Sorrow fires a blast of energy of some sort, and getting hit by it will trigger a jump-scare. I’m sure many scares were had by this sequence of the game. I know I had some.
- Barnacles – Half-Life Series
The Half-Life games, despite not really being a horror game series, have plenty of unnerving things to fight against and go through. You have a variety of zombies, some of which still cling to their last bit of humanity. There’s also the Headcrabs, which are responsible for the zombies running about. They come in a few different types, including the feared Poison Headcrab. There’s also Antlions, Tentacles, and a variety of other unusual and dangerous creatures. But the one that personally gives me the creeps the most are the Barnacles.
Barnacles are creatures that are attached to a ceiling, with a single, long tongue that drops down to the floor. Anything that gets into contact with its tongue will get pulled up into its mouth – I’m sure you can only imagine what it does next. Thankfully, these things are pretty passive, and won’t actually reach for you if you get close to their tongues. Plus, they are kind of dumb, pulling up anything that’s caught in their tongues, like an explosive barrel, for example. They’re also completely vulnerable to gunfire if you can spot them, so these creatures don’t put up a fight. Still, their appearance and way they kill whoever gets caught in their tongue is enough to send chills down my spine.
- Undead Enemies – The Legend of Zelda games
I’m pretty sure everybody knows that any undead enemy is a pretty scary thing to deal with in any video game. However, in both of Link’s N64 adventures, his undead adversaries can be serious nightmare fuel if you’re a kid making your way through the game, not expecting such scary things to fight. Firstly, we have the ReDeads and their mummified counterparts, the Gibdos. Both of these zombified monsters do the exact same thing to you: they stun you for a few moments, then walk up to you slowly and attempt to jump onto your back, draining your life away. The worst part about this is that their stun attack is a very loud scream! I remember the very first time I got frozen in place by a ReDead in my first play-through many years ago, and it scared the pants off me! The ReDeads in particular are also quite scary to look at, with their near-skeletal appearance, wooden masks, blacked out eyes, and no mouth, at least in the original N64 games. Official artwork and the 3DS remakes give them a nasty set of teeth… thankfully, the Sun’s Song and a bit of fire will do these guys in quickly.
However, the mini-boss Dead Hand, is some real scary stuff. A monster with a ghastly appearance and a huge jaw for trying to bite you makes him bad enough, but then there are his hands. In the room where Dead Hand lurks are several arms sticking out of the ground. One might be curious enough to get close to one – only to have it grab you with its bloody claws, leaving you open for the undead monster itself to attack! Getting grabbed by these hands is actually a method to beat this mini-boss! Not to mention you have to fight this enemy twice in the normal adventure, and even more appear in the Master Quest. Thanks for those nightmares, Nintendo.
- Sins and Deaths – Devil May Cry
I’m kind of bordering on horror game territory here, but I consider Devil May Cry an action game first and foremost. That being said, the first entry of this awesome franchise has plenty of pretty scary stuff, from enemies like the Sargasso, Shadow, and Nobodies, to just the general atmosphere of the game. But in my opinion, the scariest things in Devil May Cry are the Sin and Death enemies. Both of these enemies look very much like a grim reaper of sorts, and they possess the ability to pass through solid objects and walls. Their cloaks are nothing more than illusions, making attacks on this part of their “bodies” useless. Their only physical part and weak point are their masks.
The Sins are the lesser of the two types, and come in Sin Scissors and Sin Scythe varieties: I’ll let you guess what sort of weapons they wield. These enemies show up earlier in the game, and will appear in groups. However, they aren’t very hard to kill, as they are somewhat slow and only have a few, easy to dodge attacks. Plus, a well-aimed shotgun blast to the face can kill Sins in one shot. However, they do like to cackle a lot, even as they are killed…
Deaths, however, are a much more serious threat, being much stronger, faster, and harder to kill than the Sins. To drive home that these guys are serious business, Deaths have a demonic laugh while battling you, wear a goat mask, and have a red aura. They also come in Scissors and Scythe varieties, and both have attacks and abilities unique to each type. The first time you encounter a Death Scissors, it will put up a force field to restrict the area you can move in, while performing a deadly charging corkscrew attack, passing through walls to make his next appearance difficult to predict. Death Scythes, on the other hand, will use demonic magic to lift you into the air, and can throw four of its deadly scythes at you. I recall getting killed by one of these once, and got a rather brutal fatality sequence. Deaths are really not a very pleasant bunch.
- Mimics – Dark Souls Series
Ah, the Mimic. A classic enemy in a variety of genres, from RPGs to adventure games, the Mimic is an enemy that can cause paranoia over treasure chests after encountering your first one. Whether they are just monsters in a box, or the monster is the chest itself, an encounter with these trap boxes is surely going to be very unpleasant. Thankfully, for putting the effort into defeating this trap, you’ll get rewarded with a very nice item… usually.
The most frightening variety of Mimic has to be the ones from the Dark Souls games. In both the first and second games, the Mimic is presented as a treasure chest with a lanky body and limbs, a huge tongue, and a mouth lined with sharp, jagged teeth… which on closer inspection are actually finger bones! The original’s Mimic stands on its two feet, and is quite a bit taller than you, while the Mimics in Dark Souls 2 are even bigger in size and crawl on all fours, as well as imitate metal chests on top of the normal wooden ones! Also, while they do fight you normally, the Mimics can perform an instant kill move by grabbing you and eating you! Hopefully, you’ve got a sharp eye to discern a real chest from a Mimic…
- Deathclaws – Fallout Series
Throughout the entire series of Fallout games, there are many things that are out to kill you. These can range from human enemies; like Raiders and Slavers, to malfunctioning robots like Mr. Handys and Sentry Bots, to mutated creatures like Yao Guai, Giant Radscorpions, Mirelurks, and Ghouls, to name a few. But the most infamous monster in the Fallout series has to be the dreaded Deathclaw.
Deathclaws were created during the Great War to replace human soldiers, and were composed of a variety of genes from many different animals, primarily the Jackson Chamelion. They then received genetic manipulation and the FEV virus. The result is pretty self-explanatory in their name: they are death incarnate, and will kill you with their claws. They possess incredible speed, so outrunning a Deathclaw is very difficult, if not impossible. They are also very strong as well, taking chunks of your health off with each attack. There are many different kinds of Deathclaws that appear in the series, from Baby Deathclaws which are no less fearsome than their fully grown forms, to the mighty and huge Legendary Deathclaw seen in New Vegas. Thankfully, these monsters don’t have ranged attacks. As long as you can keep a safe distance from them, they can’t do much to you. But as mentioned before, they can close in on you very quickly, which is pretty terrifying. Pray you don’t wander into a Deathclaw-infested area of wasteland America, especially if you’re at a lower level, or you will see that game over screen very quickly!
- The Gnosis – Xenosaga Series
In the universe of Xenosaga, one of the biggest threats towards mankind are the Gnosis. One might think that these are merely hostile aliens, but there are some factors that make these beings truly horrifying. In Xenosaga, when a person dies, their soul becomes part of an intangible medium called the Collective Consciousness, sort of like an afterlife. The Gnosis, however, are actually the transformed souls of people that refused to join the Collective Consciousness due to having intense feelings of hatred, malice, or contempt at their time of death. So, in a way, these are people with a nasty chip on their shoulder.
These beings are deadly combatants, and even a single touch from a Gnosis can kill you through a process called “Gnosisification”. Death by being touched can come in two ways: you can either be turned into salt, or, if you survive being turned into salt, become a Gnosis yourself! Either way, Gnosisification is a pretty bad way to get killed. The Gnosis also have the capability to possess machines and adapt it to their bodies, like A.G.W.S. mechs, allowing these monsters to have some firepower!
But the truly terrifying thing about the Gnosis; they are almost completely untouchable! The Gnosis exists in a unique dimension separate from reality, called the imaginary space. This imaginary space, however, occupies the same space as reality. This means that the Gnosis can interact – kill – with humans from their dimension, but while humans can see the Gnosis as ghost-like beings, they cannot harm them. The only way to combat the Gnosis is by activating the Hilbert Effect, which draws these creatures out from the imaginary space into reality, which can only be done by a certain space craft, a particular model of bio-robot, the 100-series Realian, and the major character, and most awesome android in video games, KOS-MOS. Without the Hilbert effect though, fighting a Gnosis is completely hopeless. It’s kind of like one of those enemies you can’t fight in some horror games – except you know that even if you were actually able to fight back, it would be completely impossible to harm. An enemy that’s truly implacable and can give you a gruesome death just by touching you? I can’t think of anything scarier!
I hope you enjoyed my list of spooky characters that are in non – horror games. This list can be a way of enjoying the Halloween holiday without having to play the very scary games. I’m sure there are other scary characters in the many different genres of games, and I hope they don’t scare you too much this spoopy month of Halloween.