The horror genre can be seen as a thriving one, with various franchises sparking from not only video games, but also through the curation of cinematography and the publication of books. Many titles nowadays prize themselves on seeking immersive ways to enthrall their players with fear, oftentimes through excessive gore, heinous violence, and most commonly, shocking jump scares.
However, at times, video game developers miss the mark when it comes to striking terror in their fans, albeit through poor character dialogue, dismal storylines, and even feeble attempts at creating a ghastly setting. Despite this, a rather limited volume of games manage to instill panic into their players through a different route, that being their terrifying enemy designs.
6/6 Smoker – Left 4 Dead
Released in 2008, Valve’s development team set out to dominate the zombie-survival scene with Left 4 Dead. Quirky, gory, and downright chaotic, this title’s playability was endless, granting players the ability to team up with their friends, create custom map designs, and even implement their own modifications. Typically tasked with over-the-top boss battles, edge-of-the-seat extraction missions, and horde-defending duties, Left 4 Dead has ultimately cemented itself as a memorable title within the horror genre, despite its lacking nature with regard to scaring fans.
Brandishing a vast array of mutated zombie variations, Left 4 Dead brilliantly achieves their horror aspect through these uniquely terrifying designs. Ingeniously dubbed the Smoker, this infected individual hurls his gruesomely lengthy tongue at victims, instantly wrapping around them and dragging them towards him in an inescapable clutch. Poised with a vile design, the Smoker‘s discombobulated face and slimy tentacle nature can sicken players to their stomach, rendering this enemy as one of terrifying stature.
5/6 Brutus – Call Of Duty Zombies
Unbeknownst to the developers, Call Of Duty‘s 2003 launch would eventually become a renowned historic franchise, ultimately paving the way for the majority of first-person shooters alike. Throughout its frivolous life-time, Call Of Duty titles would regularly see the inclusion of exclusive map designs, gripping campaign modes, competitive multiplayer modes, and even chilling zombie modes, inadvertently forming a devoted community, unbreakably bonded to this cherished franchise.
Boasting one of the most iconically in-depth storylines, in relation to zombies, Treyarch’s Call Of Duty: Black Ops 2 retains a plethora of eerie enemy designs, one of which entitled Brutus. Secluded within the San Francisco prison of Alcatraz, players are cornered in facing the gigantically petrifying prison warden, doused in heavy armor, and armed with a destructive baton. Although not a directly scary game, Call Of Duty: Black Ops 2 depicts this beastly enemy in such a way that fans are destined to fear his presence, evidently confirming his design as that of a horrifying one.
4/6 Nightmare Freddy Fazbear – Five Nights At Freddy’s
Taking the horror genre by storm with its intriguing lore and uncommon character designs would be Scottgames’ 2014 release of Five Nights At Freddy’s. Eventually sprouting into its very own adored franchise, this once unheard of title sent ripples throughout modern gaming, frightening the likes of millions with its unsuspecting jump scares and sinister storyline.
Although the idea of murderous animatronics in a pizzeria plaza does not exactly scream horror, Five Nights At Freddy‘s blazingly took to the stage with a terrifying enemy design, Nightmare Freddy Fazbear. Tasked with creeping closer and closer to the player, this ghastly character riddles fans with fear once he leaps through their screen, viciously presenting his awfully sharp teeth and rusted claws. Despite some dubbing this title as childish, many fans would agree that Nightmare Freddy Fazbear‘s terrifying enemy design filled them with fear.
3/6 Corpser – Gears Of War
With its initial release in 2006, Epic’s Games’ Gears Of War franchise took modern gaming to new levels, offering players a gritty war zone to fend for themselves. From its mesmerizing setting, violently aggressive nature, and crude techniques for surviving wave after wave of the formidable Locust Horde, fans soon found themselves fearing from the numerous iterations of the repugnant creatures, especially the Corpser.
Notably humongous, Epic Games’ Corpser was evidently fabricated to inject sheer panic into the player’s mind, giving reason as to its spider-like design. Bearing eight vigorously lethal legs, this despicable creature formulated additional routes underground for the Locust Horde to emerge from, further emphasizing the petrifying aroma this character carries. Granted, Gears Of War may not be the scariest of titles, yet the Corpser undoubtedly sits among some of the most blood-curdling enemy designs gaming has witnessed.
2/6 Huggy Wuggy – Poppy Playtime
Arguably a controversial title, Poppy Playtime‘s 2021 release tasked fans to venture within the confides of an abandoned toy factory in hopes of gaining answers as to what went wrong. However, lurking in the dark are vengeful dolls, awaiting the player’s presence by actively monitoring their every move. Despite the developers being that of a rather small team, this title manages to capture gamer’s worst fears and bundle them up into a horror-related survival game.
Remarkably tall and scarily limber, Poppy Playtime‘s main antagonist Huggy Wuggy was built purely on nightmare fuel. Embracing a wide grin, razor sharp teeth, bulging eyes, and extended legs, Huggy Wuggy‘s main purpose to engulf the player within his stomach, feeding on their soul. Similar to that of Five Nights At Freddy‘s, many individuals argue that this indie horror title retains too much of a child-like essence, tarnishing its ability to classify itself as a classical horror. With that said, MOB Games’ ghastly portrayal of this heinous villain has certified its iconically terrifying design, cascading through the video game industry into a real-life horror toy.
1/6 Megan Cross – The Forest
Endnight Games’ 2014 release of The Forest sought out to dominate the survival scene, going back to basics with a Cast Away situation. Entangled within an inexplicably cursed forest, players must resort to elemental survival techniques in order to fend off the many mutated creatures that reside on the island. Eminently lucrative, this title has been praised by countless gamers around the globe, totally enthralled with their ingenious combination of building principles, foraging system, and craftsmanship abilities that must be adhered to.
Although vast, The Forest is home to countless petrifying mutants, most notably Megan Cross. Entwined within a deep lore, Megan Cross shares a direct relationship with the main antagonist of the cherished franchise, Matthew Cross, being that of his daughter. However, her seemingly innocent appearance is heavily contrasted once her mutated form takes over, crudely engulfing her torso within a horrifyingly immense creature. Endnight Games’ horror survival might not propel fear into their players often, yet when faced with the terrifying Megan Cross, fans wish they didn’t have a keen attraction to the horror genre.