A Few Of My Favourite Monsters

We live in complex times. When I was a youngster, it was perfectly reasonable to buy a game simply because it had more monsters than the other games. Playing through shooters, RPGs and platformers alike, I’d be tempted to give up when I reached the point where no new enemy types were appearing. The very idea of a game with only one type of enemy, no matter how intelligent and believable, was poison. Give me all of your mutants, demons and aliens, I cried, give them to me now.

Here are a few of my favourites, ranging from the first-person shooters of my teenage years to the surreal horrors of my childhood.

Headcrabs

A classic. Headcrabs combine several top monster traits into one bulbous ball of peril. They’re small, scuttling things that can hide in dark corners and then leap at your face, which makes them versatile and unpleasant, and they can transform other creatures into zombie-like things, which ticks that particular box. The box that says ‘zombies’.

I was particularly taken by the use of headcrabs as a sort of biological weapon, as seen in Half Life 2. Canisters packed with the blighters dropped from on high to zombify the population of rebel facilities and settlements. A grim business, to be sure, but a fitting and credible extension of the beasties as seen in the first game.

The humble headcrab also became something of a mascot for the series. I’ve seen plush headcrabs, headcrab hats and a headcrab tattoo. I’m not going to touch on the horrible poisonous headcrabs in Half Life 2 because thinking about them means I have to lift my feet onto the chair because I’m immediately convinced there’s one under my desk. Shit.

Imps

The best Doom monster! Some people think that’s the cacodemon or *snort* the Cyberdemon. They’re wrong because nothing beats an imp. Here’s why:

Imps have the best combination of projectile and melee attacks.

Imps can easily be lured into combat with other enemies thanks to the visible and slow-moving nature of their fireballs.

They make really creepy noises when they’re snuffling and shorting in the shadows.

I used to narrate deathmatch games using the twin voices of ‘Ren and Impy’, who were the Doom equivalent of sports commentators. Like the Blood Bowl guys, except with actual jokes.

Headless

Headless are among the weirder entities in any RPG. Considering that fantasy hack and slash games regularly contain gobbets of carnivorous slime and consider floating testicles with multiple magic-hurling eye-stalks to be de rigueur, I normally have to look to Dark Souls for something weird and out of the ordinary. The Ultima series has always been slightly out of sync with its fantasy RPG brethren, however. mostly that’s in terms of its adherence to a world of virtue and vice rather than a world of looting and slaying, but its bestiary contains some oddities as well.

None stand out to me more than the Headless. It’s the fact that they’re just a part of the world that gets me – there’s no grand introduction for them and nobody seems all that fazed by their existence. They’re humans, or human-like creations, lacking a head and neck. And they chase you and punch you and kick you and kill you. Within the series’ lore, they’re assumed to be results of a magical experiment. See how casually their horrors are described in Ultima VII’s Book of Fellowship:

This ensorcelled creature appears to be a living, ambulatory, beheaded human being. It is unknown exactly how it compensates for its apparent lack of sensory organs, but it manages to do so quite well. Its favorite method of attack is strangulation.

They belong in the SCP Foundation.

The Sentinel

Is The Sentinel a monster? It’s certainly monstrous but I’m not even entirely sure that it’s a living thing. It’s the player’s nemesis in Geoff ‘Stunt Car Racer’ Crammond’s game of the same name (that’s The Sentinel rather than a game called Geoff Crammond, although I’d definitely play the latter) and it’s one of the most terrifying foes I’ve ever faced.

The Sentinel watches, from on high, and if you don’t outwit it, you will die. Just as I’m unsure as to whether The Sentinel itself can be classified as a monster, I’m not sure it actually kills anyone. The player controls synthoids, telepathic robots, transferring consciousness around The Sentinel’s many domains in an attempt to escape its gaze. It destroys simply by seeing. I’ve had nightmares about The Sentinel, years after playing the bastard game on my Atari ST back in the day. At least part of that is down to the weird, checkered landscapes, which were no doubt a product of late eighties tech rather than an entirely deliberate design choice. There’s more of them in the next and final entry…

Bleeding trees

I actually flinch when I picture Archipelagos. Released in 1989 it is one of the strangest and most singular games I’ve ever encountered. Taking place on a series of procedurally generated islands inhabited by animated, bleeding trees, it’s a horror game that doesn’t explicitly refer to itself as a horror game. If you’re in any doubt that it’s a horror game, just read the phrase “animated, bleeding trees” again.

On each of the islands, you, playing as a drifting consciousness that has to…destroy some rocks? I was never entirely clear on the objective but I was absolutely certain that I should avoid the trees at all costs. They creep across the island, oozing blood that saturates the dirt and grass, colouring everything red. It’s like that one bit in Watership Down when a nightmarish vision of fields running red with blood made me scared of my own pet rabbit even though the rabbits were the victims. A smart kid would have been scared of his Fisher Price toy digger and construction set, but I loved those little plastic vehicles.

Archipelagos trees are evil and terrifying because they only make sense in the game’s own nightmare logic. They bleed and contaminate the islands, and when you complete your objectives, they head directly toward you and crowd around you, clogging your consciousness with blood.

A special mention goes to David Braben’s early title Virus (also known as Zarch), which didn’t scare me but had a similar blood-red colouring gradually infecting and seeping through its beautiful levels.

Those are my favourite monsters. Tell me about yours.

111 Comments

  1. Wowbagger says:

    Head crabs always evoked the Alien facehugger thing for me. That violation and suffocation angle creeps me out something fierce.

    I’m a big fan of monsters that are neutral unless disturbed, Like the mammoth herding giants in Skyrim or some of the big herbivores in Monster Hunter.

    Also as it’s just been released on PC, some of the Dragon’s Dogma monsters are amazing, but I wouldn’t like to spoil them!

    • deiseach says:

      I have a very low threshold for being scared so this might not mean much to anyone else, but the muffled screams of the unfortunate victim of a headcrab is just ghastly. When I first heard it in Half Life 2, I recoiled from the screen. Even now, hearing it makes me feel genuine horror and a self-righteous desire to put them out of their misery. A brilliant piece of design.

    • carewolf says:

      Sea Horses or whatever they were called were magnificent monsters in the Ultima series that would only act aggresive if attacked. That is they would spectacularly whoop your ass if you mistook them for monsters and attacked them

    • GWOP says:

      On Dragon’s Dogma: I was walking along to my destination the other when suddenly a giant friggin’ shadow flew over me. I looked up to see a Griffin diving towards the ground, snatching an enormous bison with its claws and then flying off into the distance.

      Better the bison than me.

  2. JamesTheNumberless says:

    Ahem, Watership Down trigger warning please! ffs

    • JamesTheNumberless says:

      Although it wasn’t the blood soaked fields from Fiver’s vision for me, it was Holly’s flashback of the warrens being destroyed. That was my nightmare fuel.

      Archipelagos was one of those games I used to read about a lot in games magazines but never played. It looked fascinating but I had absolutely no idea how to pronounce it, was limited to 3 or 4 new games a year, and there was always some RPG or adventure game I still hadn’t got.

      • Llewyn says:

        Watership Down, like most of Adams’ work, is surprisingly powerful in places, particularly because of the contrast with the saccharine sweetness at times, and I think much better than people generally give him credit for. For me it was Hazel cowering in the drain waiting to die after being shot.

        That said, I read Plague Dogs shortly after it, which cured any rabbit-induced bad dreams.

        Never seen the film though, and no idea why anyone ever thought that would be a good idea. It seems to miss the point of the book entirely.

        • Coming Second says:

          The Fleeches from Abe’s Exoddus. The only enemy in the game that doesn’t OHK you, but are somehow worse than the rest – swarms of two-headed worms that can follow you anywhere and slowly lick/flay you to death, before lassoing you into their mouths and digesting you in seconds.

          And speaking of headless bodies, the type from Binding of Isaac that leap into the air and come down where you’re standing are probably my number one source of lost runs. Hate those things.

      • unimural says:

        I played Archipelagos way back when. 1991 I guess. I did like it, it had rather creepy music, and the gameplay was maddeningly intense. The concept of trees spreading blood to corrupt the land was upsetting. After destroying the last boulder, you had a limited amount of time to reach the obelisk. And the terrain that was corrupted by blood became unpassable. This meant that even after solving the level (mostly to do about making a land connection between all the rocks, iirc), you still might not be able to get back to the obelisk, if you route back had become corrupted. I found it very unsettling, and the memories still make me uncomfortable.

        Pretty soon though the levels got big and difficult. I realized, that if I solved one archipelago a day I’d be forty when I would be done with the game. In fact I would not been done until 2018. I kind of doubt anyone ever, including the devs, finished all the levels of the game.

      • Coming Second says:

        Watership Down. From an era when cartoon = for little kids. Always shown at Christmas time for some reason. Both factors combining to mentally scar so many childhoods.

      • khamul says:

        Ugh, the Shining Wire. *shudder*

    • Al Bobo says:

      Goddamnit. I had happily suppressed all my memories of Watership Down and now you broke the dam. I was way too young to watch it, when I watched it. Not too much after it, I watched The Silence of the Lambs. Made me feel weird.
      Aaanyway, my fav monster is Alien and then comes Bloodsuckers from Stalker. Those glowing eyes… :I

  3. JamesTheNumberless says:

    As monsters go, I don’t think you can beat the Alien from Alien. My favourite monsters from gaming are probably the ones that were rare, that you could get through a game without meeting, and about which there were urban legends. RPGs were great for this. E.g. You’d tell your friends you’d met the thief in Dungeon Master which they hadn’t seen yet, and you’d make up a load of nonsense about its abilities to impress them (“Aye, it steals your weapons and then uses them against you!”) then when they inevitably reported that it did no such think you’d still stick to your argument that it could do those things and they just must not have seen it in their playthrough.

  4. JamesTheNumberless says:

    Oh and I only just noticed the special mention for Virus. If ever you needed proof that Braben by himself can’t design enjoyable flight controls…

  5. Strangely Brown says:

    I like (for certain values of “like”) the mudmen from Moonstone on the Amiga. Making an entrance like they do they’ll scare the willies out of you the first couple times you fight them. They’re one of two monsters that can instakill you if you don’t keep moving, and the prospect of being buried alive and slowly digested keeps you on your toes. I don’t blame the player character for standing frozen in fear when it happens…

    Snorks… (Stalker) Not even the bloodsuckers are particularly unnerving compared to snorks, though I’m not quite sure why. Maybe it’s their mode of attack, appearance, or the thought “what could turn a man into _that_?!”, but unless I spot one out in the open they get me every time.

  6. JamesTheNumberless says:

    I think we’re all forgetting that the true monster, is man.

  7. Herzog says:

    The monsters from Quake. Ogres, Knights, Fiends, Zombies, Vores and the Shambler – all have distinct personalities and form the most iconic bestiary ever (Doom comes close but personal bias and yes I have not played Dark Souls yet).

    • mugsgame says:

      Herzog, have you tried Arcane Dimensions which had its final release there at Christmas? Q1 mod with lots of single-player content firmly in the original aesthetic, I’ve been enjoying it a lot the last couple of days.

    • Spacewalk says:

      The way in which the Shambler swings his arms around make it looks like he wants to give you a hug and with all that fur he looks like a Muppet. A Muppet who wants to hug you to death. That’s a very affective design.

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      particlese says:

      The Spawn are the monsters I feel most strongly about in Quake. Those little blue blobs and the sound they make bouncing around still scare the poo out of me! Every once in a while there would be one I couldn’t find/get to, so it would just go nuts in its hidden room, terrorizing me for the rest of the level.

      Favorite monster, though? In Quake, probably the Fiend, mostly because I think their design is really cool.

  8. Herzog says:

    Another mention to the Super Mutants from the original Fallout. Getting torn to pieces the first time you meet them during a random encounter (maybe with mighty Ian as your sidekick) in the Wasteland stuck in my memory till today.

  9. Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

    Protocol Droids in System Shock 2. You’re in a dark, cramped cargo bay in a maze formed by piles of coffin-sized boxes. You step too close to one. The Droid within bursts out and chides you for your thoughtlessness as you open fire and backpedal frantically to get out of range of its detonation. Then, you hear a polite voice from behind. “Hello, can I interest you in any of our personal care products?”

    • JamesTheNumberless says:

      Hehe, yes. Actually the androids in Alien:Isolation do a pretty good job of representing the same horror “Running causes accidents, why not ask us about our safety protocols? You’re becoming hysterical”

  10. Premium User Badge

    Lexx87 says:

    The AI from I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream (the short story anyway).

    That still makes me feel horrible a month after release. Taking its only pleasure from the endless torture of 5 humans for hundreds of years, in an attempt to deal with its own hatred of existence.

  11. AbyssUK says:

    Cyberdiscs f’ing cyberdiscs… and of course the old school Chryssalid…

    • JFS says:

      The new XCOM Cyberdisk are really scary. When I saw the first one unravel, it actually evoked terror like the old X-COM did at every corner.

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      Andy_Panthro says:

      The equivalent in Xenonauts (The Reaper) might not quite have the classic name and look of the UFO Chryssalid, but they evoked the same sort of fear.

  12. Synesthesia says:

    The Tonberry!
    oh, and the gaping dragon from DS is definitely on my list as well.

  13. jrodman says:

    Nitpick McGinty here to tell you that people might be “fazed” by the existence of headless, not “phased”. Unless they are made to be out of step, like perhaps it affected their fasshion sense or personal timeline. link to vocabulary.com

    • jrodman says:

      And no nitpick post is complete without the typo. Magnifique!

    • Premium User Badge

      Adam Smith says:

      Ugh. Fixed. No idea how that slipped through. Clearly not a typo and yet they’re not homonyms I’ve confused in writing for many a year. Ta!

      • jrodman says:

        Piers Anthony’s (ugh) puns (double ugh) on these words have left me a bit stumbly on these particular homonyms for the remainder of my life.

        So you’re not alone. And if you never read Anthony, it could be worse.

  14. thelastpointer says:

    Titans from Unreal.

    • Jakkar says:

      Thank you <3

      That bass rumble. The obvious worship they received from the Nali. That perfectly measured tread that perfectly suited moving the huge bulk of their shoulders and arm-span. The physics based boulders and the sheer speed at which they threw them, and the way they made it so hard to move/so easy to fall into the nearest gorge when they stamped.

      But the Skaarj were even better… Warrior class, particularly assassins and berserkers. The AI, the agility, the passive, meditative animations.

    • Premium User Badge

      particlese says:

      Yes! I liked the old-style Skaarj a lot, too, but the Titan was something special. Jakkar has already said it better than I could. :)

  15. Turkey says:

    The Hammerite Haunts from the Thief freaked me out so much when I first played it that I had to turn the sound almost entirely off to get through the haunted cathedral level.

    • Michael Fogg says:

      Me too. The clinking of chainmail, footsteps, then you make a wrong move and its “Join usss! Join us NOW!!!” (which is now my cellphone ringtone btw)

    • Jackablade says:

      Yeah, I logged in to write pretty much the same thing. They’re just skeleton guys made out of about 100 polys, but that noise is just blood-curdling.

    • ooshp says:

      The only time I’ve felt true anxiety playing a game, I had to walk away from the game and come back drunk to get through the Haunts.

  16. GernauMorat says:

    Bloodsuckers from S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Actually, pretty much everything from that series, stray dogs on upwards.

    • Distec says:

      My first encounter with a Bloodsucker took a lot out of me. The idea of facing any more than the one put knots in my stomach.

      Then I came across a Controller without any introductory fan-fare and noped out of the game for a few days.

      • cpt_freakout says:

        I think I’ll never forget my first encounter with the Controller either… man, what a disturbing moment. Worst part is I had to play it like 5 times because I was so freaked out I didn’t know what was happening, so I eventually got past it… somehow, I don’t even remember how, I was so nervous.

  17. jrodman says:

    PHANTOM!
    KARATE!
    DEVILS!

  18. Jerppa says:

    How is lifting your feet off the floor going to help against a headcrab?

  19. nullward says:

    The blue spiny zombie guys from Resident Evil 4. The ones you have to shoot like 5 times in specific places with heat vision on before they go down, all while knowing they are slowly walk toward you. Oh, and the spots you have to shoot them in move and squirm.

    I also really liked the Predator-look-alike from the original Unreal, the one you face after the lights-out hallway. I think that was the first baddie who ever dodged my fire.

    • vorador says:

      I personally prefer the ones from the series Dead Space. The Reanimators from RE4 are a pain, but manageable once you get the infrared googles.

      The ones from Dead Space? Run.

    • Jakkar says:

      Thank you for mentioning the Skarjj <3

  20. lagiacrux says:

    the giant tentatcle things from half life.

    their incessant beating on the metal staircases … i still shudder a little when i imagine it.

    clank clank … clank …
    shit they heard me … CLANK CLANK CLANK CLANK CLANK
    aaaaand im dead …

    having to go through their room several times was frightening. god it felt so gooooood to burn them into crisps afterwards.

    • jrodman says:

      Hello sir, I am a simple emerican learning the ways of the british empire. When something is burned to crisps does this mean that defeated foes become edible if unhealthful snacks like in Dungeon Master? Or is this a definition 2 of crisps that I have not mastered.

      Thank you good day fine sir.

      • Heliocentric says:

        The saying is ‘burn to a crips’, where you are transmogrified by virtue of molecular energisation into a Los Angeles gang member.

        • Llewyn says:

          Here in York there is a financial advisor partnership which goes by the name of Walker Crips. Even though I know, I find it impossible to read the sign correctly when I pass it (and took several attempts to type it).

    • surgeonufo says:

      Yes! Those left a mark on me.

  21. Moonracer says:

    The female assassins in Half-life 1. They were fairly uncommon, fast, could jump onto/over high objects, would attack and retreat, threw grenades. I always had to retreat, check my gear and calm my nerves a second before taking them out.

    I think most people just found them annoying, which is sad because they were a nice alternative to the typical cannon fodder or bullet sponge bosses with minimal AI we usually face in FPS games.

    • Heliocentric says:

      Laser trip mines were my answer, the time I actually got through that segment first I didn’t see a single assassin, not even after killing them virtue of the mines gibbing.

    • Dicehuge says:

      Oh man I forgot about them. The terrible anxiety of walking into that first room of them when the friendly guy suddenly gets shot. The zombies and headcrabs were creepy but those assassins stressed the hell out of me.

  22. vorador says:

    Stage 3 on R-Type

  23. TheAngriestHobo says:

    The horrible invisible water monster from Amnesia. I’ve never seen invisibility used so masterfully in a video game before. I suppose that it goes back to that old horror movie staple of “the unseen is more terrifying than the seen”, but it was a refreshingly original take on the idea.

    Oh, and Jerry from Undertale, of course. I wasn’t going to include him, but he came along with the terrifying water monster and now I can’t get him to leave.

  24. Asurmen says:

    Giant ants from It Came From The Desert.

    The music in that game was ace, as a random aside.

    • Robmonster says:

      That game was pure class! I never did manage to complete it. :( Made it into the ant base once and once only.

      My favourite part was the hospital escapes.

  25. Shazbut says:

    I would like to honour the Scorpio from The Void.

    Aside from the whole game being a masterclass of character design, it’s clever with how it gives information. You’re forever being drip fed with how the world you’re in operates, but the Scorpio are barely referred to. I don’t think they’re explained at all, and when you come across them at all it’s a total shock. They’re huge. You don’t know where they came from, or what they’re really doing, other than you’re sure you done f*cked up good. It absolutely reinforces the central theme of this world being beyond your understanding with you just learning enough to get by.

    • Chaoslord AJ says:

      Shame I never finished the game – the dark setting massively unsettles me.

  26. Gordon Shock says:

    -Human mutants in System Shock 2, realizing that they still retain enough of humanity for them to ask you to kill them still haunts me (thank you Irrational stellar sound department)

    -Stalker’s controllers, my first encounter with one of them is tattooed in my memory forever

    -Caesar’s legion…ok they are not real monsters, but they are still monsters nonetheless and it felt pretty good to get rid of every last one.

    -Humanoid necromorphs: all of them was very well designed, from the dark one to bloated variety, the poor schmucks stuck on the walls, the swarming children and, of course, the exploding babies.

    I just bought Alien: Isolation and The Evil Within so this list might get bigger soon ;)

    • roothorick says:

      The audiovisual design of SS2 made even cliche, unoriginal enemies like the turrets and the glacial bullet-sponge security robots unusually terrifying.

      One of the most brilliant then-original things it did is every enemy (usually) made ambient noises long before they were aware of you. Sound doesn’t have the same precision as sight — so you knew they were there, somewhere, creating that tension and getting your adrenaline running. But you didn’t know where. At least you’d always hear them coming.

      …most of the time. Every once in a while, it’d break that rule. There were the turrets, whose only warning that you were about to get hurt is a quiet whirr. And on rare occasion you’d open a door to meet a droid to the face that, for once, was completely silent, lying in wait. A jumpscare, to be sure, but a rare one, and a supporting trope to maintain the tension instead of a primary theme in itself. More importantly, it eschewed flashy visuals and loud soundtrack hits entirely and relied on the mechanics of the game to inflict the jump, the mere visage of the droid emerging from underneath the sliding door all the cue it needs.

      And the level design upped the ante. ESPECIALLY the maintenance level. The long hallway of loud freight doors, the claustrophobic and labyrinthine warehouse, the maze around the reactor… It all compounded, playing to the strengths of the enemy behavior.

      It remains, in my mind, the best horror game of all time. Where other games relied on jump scares, it constantly lurked in the shadows, letting your mind turn even the most low-key confrontations into a heart-stopping moment.

      This unique, brutally effective approach to horror was completely lost on BioShock and Dead Space. BS tried on occasion, but was far too choreographed in every encounter, too obsessed with the action angle. (The first spider splicer encounter was particularly awful — all that buildup followed by a solid minute of “ready, set, go”.) DS was overly derivative, not of SS but of horror games in general, relying entirely too heavily on generic jump scares, and even when it wasn’t, the horror elements were story fluff and had little to no gameplay consequence. Both were novel and groundbreaking in their own ways, but for reasons entirely disconnected from horror.

      My second, by a small but significant distance, is Siren (Forbidden Siren in Europe), which faltered in being a one-trick pony, even though that trick was very original and effective.

      • Jakkar says:

        You’ve excellent taste, person who referenced both SS2 and Forbidden SIren <3

    • rgbarton says:

      Fallout 4 has a pretty nice cast of monsters like
      – Synths (I love the way they talk and explode as you shoot them)
      – The various deathclaws
      – Mirelurks
      – Feral Ghouls
      – Radscorpians (made better by the fact that they can tunnel)

  27. trollomat says:

    Dark Souls’ basilisks

    • Shazbut says:

      Yes

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      Andy_Panthro says:

      Eugh. Certainly not a favourite though. They look pretty goofy too, which would be more amusing if I hadn’t died so many times from being cursed.

      I do like the design of the more oversized enemies though, the Black Knights, Silver Knights, Stone Giants and Sentinels.

  28. Premium User Badge

    Risingson says:

    Another World, being my favourite game, has my favourite monsters: that initial mass of black with blades as teeth that chases you, these phallic slugs, those vaginal things on the floor. I always saw monsters in those games as pure sexual nightmares (as it happens with Alien and headcrabs).

    Though, in general, my favourite monster is the Small Deadly Floating Sphere Of Death. Phantasm had one, Flashback had many, the new V series had them as the better of it.

    • Premium User Badge

      Risingson says:

      I recently rewatched “the Relic” which, to me, is the monster from Another World in a museum. Creepy things crawling in the cealing and dropping in a sudden are scary, as saw in Aliens and many other films where the character looks up and sees something deadly and horrific. This is also why I find completely fair to be afraid of spiders.

    • LionsPhil says:

      I wouldn’t call the slugs phallic, but I was thinking of their one-little-scratch-and-dead fang when scrolling past the comment upthread about keeping your feet clear of poison headcrabs (…and how it wouldn’t help).

      • Premium User Badge

        Risingson says:

        Yeah, well, I have the theory that many, if not all the elements in Another World are very freudian and very sexual. Try to play the game again or see a youtube video and you will see what I mean.

        • LionsPhil says:

          Played it recently and…really didn’t get that myself. It did repeatably crash the emulator during escaping from the arena battle with the tank, though, so I never quite got to the end.

      • Hmm-Hmm. says:

        They always reminded me of leeches, myself.

  29. Elusiv3Pastry says:

    Is that the MCP from Tron up at the top?

    I applaud the Headless as well. They made the most excellent gurgling noises in Ultima Online, heard long before you could see them. They weren’t so tough though; I think I was killed by sheep fore frequently, but they were quite creepy.

  30. Chorltonwheelie says:

    Great subject this….

    The Dark Nosalis. Metro.
    Blooming pests they are.

  31. Fnord73 says:

    The first monsters in Alone in the Dark. (Scoring vaguely remembered oldschool-points…)

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      Andy_Panthro says:

      The zombies, or the duck-like dark ones? Or perhaps those two winged monsters by the stairs?

      The graphics may not have aged well, but Alone in the Dark remains a firm favourite of mine. You don’t see games like that very often any more.

  32. caff says:

    My god, Doom and Doom 2 had a plethora of utterly evil and horrible monsters. Who can forget the first time they heard the distant, sinister breathing of an Archvile, or the booming footsteps of a very angry Cyberdemon?

  33. Anthile says:

    Mushrooms in Dark Souls. For a game that tends to look rather, well, dark, the mushroom people seem almost out of place. They are considerably less hostile than the other monsters and won’t engage you unless you get close and they look rather jolly. The smaller ones are comically inept at killing you and will stumble around, it’s almost endearing. How much more dangerous can the adults be? Then it hits you.

  34. sincarne says:

    The spiders in Forbidden Forest. I wasn’t able to find a video that showed the death animation. That game freaked me out when I was single-digits old. I was also totally creeped out by the Alien in all its forms. Including the C64 version.

    Marathon: Evil had these monsters that would come at you after the dark. They were super creepy. You can see the eyes of one in this screen shot.

  35. LionsPhil says:

    I forgot this one in the spiders article the other day, but the little spiderbots in DX are great for their tink-tink-tink-tink wandering through vents—and then, most importantly, the silent pause before they zap you.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Oh, and less scary but more entertaining: kleer skeletons in the Serious Sam games. Perfect for shotgun dancing, with a predictable pattern to learn and react to, low-level enough to die to a single blast, but in huge numbers and able to carve huge slashes out of your health if you aren’t on your toes. I love to hate the buggers, and the prioritization interplay they have with other foes like the headless kamikaze that clearly broadcast their approach, again die easily but doe high damage, and can outrun you.

  36. popej says:

    I remember going round my parents mates house at the age of about 8 and being utterly confused by Archipelagos. Despite not having a clue what was going on, it was these crazy Amiga and ST games (that were such a step up from my Speccy) that really hooked me on computer games.

    Fond memories.

  37. Suits says:

    SkiFree monster, nightmare fuel

    • surgeonufo says:

      Came here to say this. Pretty sure 8-year-old me thought it was the computer turning sentient and trying to eat me, causing me to quit and run away.

  38. gunny1993 says:

    Goddamn zombie bots from “Metal Arms Glitch in the System” The way they ran at you with their weird janky not fully attached limbs used to freak the ever living fuck out of me.

  39. JuergenDurden says:

    the lickers in RE 2. those drip drip drip sounding footsteps haunted my dreams.

  40. Jackablade says:

    The Cyborg Nurse-maids from System Shock 2 are the only game monster to cause my actual physical injury. Not long after they first appear, I was perusing chemicals in a closet. I could hear one of the nursemaids clanking around outside, but the corridore was blocked by debris so I was pretty confident I was safe.

    Then she came up right behind me and screams “I’ll tear out your spine!” I got such a fright that I lost my balance and managed to roll the mouse sideways in such a way that in dislocated two of my fingers.

    It’s testament to the quality of that game that I wnet on to finish it after that. My fingers still get slightly achey all these years later.

  41. wishforanuclearwinter says:

    Cazadores

  42. zxcasdqwecat says:

    Aliens. Like grey aliens in any game. They do nothing but look sick and sound creepy and attempt rapey things. Because of this not every game allows you to fight them, they come as easter eggs or something, then again there are way better monsters which don’t have to be a modern legend or something.

  43. puppybeard says:

    I’ll never forget the zombie who bursts through a window at you in the second chapter of Nocturne. I rolled my chair back two feet and went into jazz-hands mode like the kitten in that video. Old hat now, but I remember it so well.

    It was 3 years after the dogs jumping through the windows in Resident Evil, but I never played that. The scene in Nocturne was a lot more in your face.

    The Thing in The Thing was great, but in fairness it was imported wholesale from the film, and in the game it was a bit over-used. An instance of The Thing should never feel like the pinky demons from Doom, but there’s cases where it does.

    The first thing I thought of when I saw the heading for this post was Portal 2 when Glados says this: link to i1.theportalwiki.net

  44. khamul says:

    Headless kamikaze, Serious Sam.
    aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

  45. Unsheep says:

    Most of the monsters from SCP.
    The invisible water monster from Amnesia.
    The “Sadako” lady-monster from The Evil Within.

    The S.T.A.L.K.E.R. games had quite a number of creepy monsters, especially the jumpy-crawly mutants and the invisible monster. I can’t remember what they were actually called.

    I think weird monsters are the creepiest, things that surprise you. I don’t play that many horror games though.

    • Atomica says:

      In S.T.A.L.K.E.R. the jumpy crawly monsters with gas masks are Snorks and the invisible fast creepy ones are Bloodsuckers.

  46. Atomica says:

    System Shock 2 has some of the best monsters by virtue of the lasting impression they leave. I think that’s mainly due to the outstanding sound design, which lingers in your memories long after playing the game.

    The first monsters you encounter–the humanoid mutants–are simply disturbing in their pseudo-humanity and their pleas asking that you do the decent thing and beat them down with the wrench.

    Other monsters like the cyborg midwife and the droid still have that echo of humanity, twisted into a new sort of menace. I first thought that the droids were helpful before you wander too close and they go mad and explode.

    S.T.A.L.K.E.R. has some excellent monsters too and the best ones gave you hints of their presence like using telekinesis to throw boxes at you or mess with your mind.

  47. AbyssUK says:

    I remembered another one.. in Undying.. there was a little chapel or church with an altar.. it had a scroll on it or something.. if you grabbed it a few seconds later you’d start getting hit by things and you’d hear the familiar “looooook around” noise.. on hitting the spell to see unworldly things you’d realise you were surrounded by invisible monks beating the live out of you..

    • Darth Gangrel says:

      I remember them as dark blue humanoid clouds and then by hitting the Scrye spell, you could see that they’re actually monks. Never bothered fighting them, it wasn’t worth the trouble.

      Undying had many other great monsters, but in particular, I remember feeling a sense of dread every time I heard a Howler howl. Like it says in the manual, you can often hear them before you see them, but you’ll never know how close they are. Keeping the player on their toes, giving you audio cues about enemies approaching, but not showing you how close they are, is the best way to add suspense and long-term uneasiness.

  48. Robmonster says:

    The T-Rex from 3D Monster Maze on the ZX81 . Terrifying!

  49. Glamdalf says:

    The unkillable, douchy werewolf from Ecstatica. Never forget, never forgive.

  50. temujin33 says:

    Glados!