WARNING: this article includes content that some people might find scary.
Ico, one of the most beautiful, emotional games ever created, features these entities, which simply consist of a misty blackness. They appear out of nowhere and try to drag Yorda, your companion in the game, into dark vortices in the ground. They might back off easily from your whacking them with a stick, but they’re just so nothingy, you know you haven’t stopped them for good.
One of the more unpleasant residents of Albion in the Fable games, the balverine is a variation on the werewolf – furry, big teeth, even bigger claws, and an infectious bite. They do not want to be your friend.
Oh dear. Genetic engineering really has a lot to answer for. Take the Deathclaw of Fallout 3. Made by crazy militaristic scientific minds from a dubious DNA concoction, they’re 10 foot of bipedal lizardy aggression. And fast. Particularly unnerving if you happen to be in a dark tunnel and lacking a powerful weapon. There’s also a smelly bear called Deathclaw in World of Warcraft; no relation.
|Big Daddy (BioShock) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
The Doom games feature demons. Demons offer designers wonderful opportunities to create scary monsters. The Imp has appeared in all the Doom games, but in Doom III, a game of dark corners and spine-tingling sound design, the redesigned versions pop up unexpectedly out of the deep shadows, 10 glowering eyes and fireball projectiles.
Poor humans. In the atmospheric horror/science-fiction games of the Dead Space series, they’ve not just been killed, and not just zombified, but killed, reanimated and mutated by an alien microorganism. A lot of innocent folks seem to get zombified in games by aliens, viruses or indeed alien viruses.
In the world of Resident Evil, the nefarious Umbrella Corporation has experimented with viruses to create bioweapons. Among the many monsters created by their viruses, intentionally or otherwise, is the Licker. And yes, it has a big, long tongue. A poor unfortunate human has been doubly mutated to create this beast, which lurks on ceilings and lashes out with said tongue.
In the Half-Life games, scientists have accidentally opened a hole into another dimension, whence many and varied creatures arrive on earth. The ickiest of which has to be the headcrab. Not to be confused with the headlouse, it’s a parasite that lurks in darkness, then hops out and grabs onto a human head. The unfortunate host becomes a kind of zombie, with varying stages of rot and mutation. The Poison Headcrab is even worse.
In the original Halo trilogy, the Flood are parasites that threaten all sentient life, as they live simply to infect and zombify anyone who gets in their way. (Did we just mention zombies again?) They have a particularly foul habit of swarming, attacking you in both their small native form, oddly reminiscent of walking popcorn, and the form of their monstrously mutated hosts.
The Silent Hill series has given us some of freakiest, downright creepiest creatures ever to grace video games. The Puppet Nurses first appeared in the twisted reality of the original 1999 game. They are semi-alive, not-exactly real women in old-fashioned nurse outfits, with obscured faces, parasites on their hunched backs and a really worrying way of walking. Not who you’d like to get your injection from.
Daniel Etherington is co-founder of The Truth About Games. He wrote a weekly games column for BBC Collective for several years and has also contributed to the estimable Eurogamer. He's working on a novel called 'Everything I Ever Needed to Know About Saving the World I Learned From Video Games'.