I'm playing through Itch.io's top horror games when I first come across Siren Head. Modus Interactive (opens in new tab)'s take on this urban legend has you play as a park ranger searching for a missing hiker on a forest trail. I follow a path of bloody clothes and giant scratch marks until I come to a clearing and spot the remnants of a human body now beaten to a messy, red pulp.
After examining what was left of the hiker, I turn around to walk back to my car when Siren Head appears. It stands there quiet and motionless, a towering forty-foot humanoid with sirens where its head should be. A horrible garbled alarm erupts from its speakers and it lunges at me. I'm knocked to the floor, and I meet the same fate as the lost hiker before me.
Siren Head has been around on the internet for a couple of years, and it has become part of internet folklore. A creation of artist Trevor Henderson (opens in new tab), Siren Head is a tall fleshy creature whose head is a pole with two speakers attached. It lurks in wooded areas emitting disturbing noises. Sometimes they are distorted radio reports, or weird garbled pieces of music. Sometimes it's distressed people screaming for help.
It shares a lot of similarities with Slender Man, although I personally find Siren Head a lot more creepy. The towering monstrosity is appearing everywhere in viral Tik Toks (opens in new tab), fan artwork, and game mods, including one for Fallout 4 (opens in new tab). Henderson has created other unsettling photorealistic monsters like Cartoon Cat (opens in new tab) and Long Horse (opens in new tab).
As creepy as Henderson's other works are, Siren Head seems to have touched a nerve. The burst of games (opens in new tab) on Itch.io is proof of that. Many challenge you to survive in the woods against the elusive being, but there have been 2D side scrollers (opens in new tab), dating sims (opens in new tab), and games where you actually play as Siren Head.
It's been fun making my way through these games, but the best of the best the bunch is UndreamedPanic's game. It perfectly captures the paranoia of being stalked by the creature but also on how Siren Head's noises can play mind games with its prey.
It's a first-person horror where you play as a high school student that must escape being stalked by Siren Head. The game's bold scanlines and visual distortion makes it look like an old VHS tape. The forest is the perfect camouflage for Siren Head's long, thin body.
But, what makes this game stand out is its sound design. Siren Head's noises range from raving animalistic shrieking to the screeching of machine parts grinding together. You always hear the monster before you see it, so when its crackling radio broadcasts and garbled music drift through the forest it's difficult not to panic and shoot wildly into the trees.
UndreamedPanic's game is a fantastic take on the original Siren Head concept. If you want to see the full list of games, check out the Siren Head tag on itch.io. Hopefully, we'll see more creepy mods and games pop up in the future or maybe someone will adapt Henderson's other nightmarish creations.