Life is filled with enemies. The merciless march of time. Traffic wardens. People who walk slowly on pavements. Self checkouts. Death. But the difference is, in games, you can defeat your enemies. The following monsters, creatures, beasts, and other assorted life-forms have all been designed with one thing in mind: stopping you.
“Even other monsters fear him.” reads Quake’s manual about this terrifying, blood-splattered demon, which has claws for fingers. Of the many Lovecraftian horrors in id’s legendary FPS, this is the most intimidating.
Hopped up on gene-altering plasmids, these poor addicted souls are gruesome, deformed shadows of their former selves. It’s hard not to flinch when one comes shrieking and sprinting at you from the watery green shadows.
Fighting these guys is one of the first times I can remember feeling intimidated by enemy AI. They aren’t that smart by today’s standards, but the way these jerks work together and flank you makes for some great firefights.
Regenerator (Resident Evil 4)
As the name suggests, these shivering freaks can take a lot of damage. You unload your pistol and it doesn’t flinch, inching closer and closer with an eerie grin on its face. And the spiky variety (pictured) are even worse.
Alien (Alien: Isolation)
We’ve faced Giger’s creature in a lot of games before, but Isolation is the only one that’s managed to make it feel as lethal and intimidating as it is in Ridley Scott’s original film. Just looking at this image is making me uneasy.
Doom is famous for its enemies, all of which would make amazing tattoos, but it’s the cyberdemon—an aggressive missile-launching demon with goat legs—that stands out as the toughest, scariest, and coolest of the lot.
Witch (Left 4 Dead)
Left 4 Dead is built around the design of its monsters, and learning their behaviour is key to your survival. Chiefly, not annoying the witch. Bother this weeping monster and she’ll come at you with her claws and butcher you.
Cactuar (Final Fantasy)
The mistake Final Fantasy newcomers make is thinking Cactuar is just a weak, low-level enemy, but this spiky dude can waste your entire team in a green flash. His skills vary between games, but he’s always worth avoiding.
These machine-gun-toting, squid-faced little shits are a constant source of frustration in the Oddworld games, but I also have a soft spot for them. I like the way they snigger when Abe farts near them. They have a sense of humour.
Mimic (Dark Souls)
Dark Souls fans will undoubtedly think I’m mad for not picking [insert enemy here], but I love the Mimic. Disguised as a treasure chest, it waits patiently for clumsy adventurers to try and open it, then eats them. What a guy.
Pyramid Head (Silent Hill 2)
This eerie thing stalks James Sunderland around Silent Hill in the second game. He’s deadly, omnipresent, and invincible, and pops up at the worst times. His weapon of choice is a giant rusty knife. And sometimes a rusty spear.
Uruk (Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor)
The genius of Shadow of Mordor is that, when a generic orc kills you, they get a name, bespoke stats, and a personality. Suddenly a basic enemy has become your nemesis, and you’ll grow to despise them every time they kill you.
A beast whose sole purpose is destroying the beautiful things you’ve made. A hiss heralds its arrival, and if you get too near it flashes then explodes. You better lure it away before it blows your house/giant penis up.
Stalker (Dead Space 2)
The regular necromorph enemies in Dead Space are pretty silly-looking, but these creeps are really unnerving. They stalk you, poking their heads around corners, keeping tabs on you, then pouncing when you least expect it.
Big Daddy (BioShock)
These diving suit-clad monsters stomp around Rapture protecting the Little Sisters as they harvest ADAM. They won’t bother you if you don’t bother them, but if you do, they’ll come at you in a rage with their massive drills.
Pig Cop (Duke Nukem 3D)
There’s nothing particularly interesting about Duke’s pig cops in terms of their behaviour, but hearing their snort and the blast of their shotguns instantly fills me with nostalgia, so I’ve included them.
Licker (Resident Evil 2)
The Romero-style zombies are the enemies that define Resident Evil, but I’ve always liked the Lickers. These guys like to hang out on ceilings, dropping on unsuspecting survivors and grabbing them with their icky tongues.
Nurse (Silent Hill)
Nurses are lovely, except when they’re from Silent Hill. These gross, faceless creatures stagger about a variety of Silent Hill games, swinging lead pipes at you, and sometimes firing a gun. I don’t want the medicine they’re supplying.
Poison Headcrab (Half-Life 2)
The weird screeching, whipping sound these tiny bastards make is enough to give you the fear in Half-Life 2. One hit from them and your health massively drops, temporarily, leaving you vulnerable to other attacks.
Gravity (Kerbal Space Program)
The greatest enemy in Kerbal Space Program is invisible. Struggling engineers will know the pain of trying to launch a spacecraft out of a planet’s orbit, and it’s all because of treacherous, villainous gravity. Curse you, physics.
Krogan (Mass Effect)
While other races like to hang back safely behind cover, Krogan enemies in Mass Effect have no qualms about charging blindly into your gunfire. One of these bad boys with a shotgun can decimate your whole team if you’re not careful.
The most fearsome beast in the wasteland, these guys are fast, deadly, and probably really smelly too. Fallout: New Vegas features a variety of Deathclaws, including the fearsome Deathclaw Alpha. We’re gonna need a bigger gun.
Beholder (Baldur’s Gate)
A classic Dungeons & Dragons enemy. These guys make a habit of casting loads of status-affecting spells when your band of adventurers encounters them. Next to dragons, they’re one of the series’ most challenging foes.