In constant pursuit
Lets be honest: well-programed video game characters that are both unstoppable and relentless are as unsettling as they are deadly. They slither out of the woodwork when least expected, and practice dismemberment as a hobby. These creatures pursue victims with fervor. This leads to a game of cat and mouse where youre the meek rodent--death is a welcome alternative to the constant, fearful fleeing.
These stalkers, whether clandestine or overly aggressive, are truly terrifying beings to behold. They not only lower health bars and sap magic meters when confronted, but can do something much worse--grind down your nerves. A number of video games have featured creatures and characters able to do just that; these are the most terrifying offenders.
The Dahaka (Prince of Persia: Warrior Within)
Turns out that messing with the threads of fate is not only frowned upon, but punishable by death. Enter the Dahaka. The beasts relentless pursuit of the Prince is downright nerve-wracking thanks in part to its earth-shaking stomping. In addition to having a dark, ethereal body that is impervious to damage, the tenacious tentacle-like appendages that erupt from the Dahaka's belly are downright disgusting. The Guardian of the Timeline sounds like a demon from hell, one that is whispering a curse of damnation straight into the Princes soul. It's the stuff of nightmares, and the Prince can't rewind time to escape.
Everything about the Dahaka--its voice, thundering footsteps, and overall grossness--makes each chase feel as though any mistake brings death. Its baffling how such an overwhelming presence is defeated not by some powerful magic or special attack but water.
Scissorman (Clock Tower)
Hide-and-Seek is supposed to be all about one feeling: fun. Its a childrens game at least until its played with Scissorman. Clock Towers serial killer is always in voracious pursuit of poor individuals to murder, and he's really quite good at it. Oh, running and hiding is doable, but Scissorman explodes out of floors, pools, and just about anywhere he damn well pleases all in the name of bisecting people with his laughably large gardening shears.
What's even more unsettling about Scissorman's unapologetic pursuit is the apparent glee it gives him; he'll dance a deranged jig as bizarre as it is terrifying when going in for the kill. Scissorman truly deserves his oft-given title as the greatest terror-inducing collection of bits ever to make it into a video game. When he shows up, your brain shuts down out of fear, making it extremely difficult to figure out what to do or where to hide. It may also leave you with wet trousers.
Nemesis (Resident Evil 3: Nemesis)
When I first started playing Nemesis, I knew there was a big, tough, ugly guy who would chase poor Jill around. No problem, right? Nothing the trusty ol' shotgun can't handle. Wrong. Early in the game the Nemesis is impregnable; Resident Evils bumbling tank controls prolong the intense terror of each meeting. Fleeing to Raccoon Citys next block of zombie wasteland with a thumping heart doesnt offer a reprieve because OH MY GOD HE FOLLOWED AND HAS A ROCKET LAUNCHER!
The thing with Nemesis is that hes not only a terrifying brute, but an utterly disgusting one too. His face is the stuff of movie monster legend, and then theres those wormy, tentacle bits he shoots out of his hands to drill holes into captives. The decision to Fight with the monster, or Enter the police station after Nemesis casually downs a S.T.A.R.S. teammate is an unfair one; there should be an option for Running down the street calling for mommy.
The End (Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater)
Surely a sniper duel with The End, an elderly man estimated to be older than your great grand pappy, cant be that frightening. But there's a reason why hes called the Father of Sniping--though I feel like The Father of Sneaking and Sniping would be far more accurate.
Just like the snake that slithers over his prone body in the battles opening cinematic, The End is more than capable of moving through the forest unheard and unseen. If Snake doesnt pay attention to whats behind him, the geezer will suddenly appear out of nowhere to send a tranquilizer dart right into his rump. Snake wakes up in a cell unharmed, but now has to live with the fact that an old man with bulging eyeballs can get the drop on him at any moment. Good luck trying to fight the most stealthy geriatric known to man.
Berserker (Gears of War)
This particular locust doesnt go bump in the dark. No, thats not what makes it scary; its the fact that this Incredible Hulk-wannabe is as relentless as it is unkillable. When Marcus and company yell Berserker (OK, maybe its more of a cry of desperation) at the top of their lungs when one of these lovely ladies show up, its go time. And by go time, I mean they have to keep their underoos clean while avoiding a creature that stomps through machine gun fire, cars, and just about anything and everything in the way.
Berserkers have one goal in life: to seek out COG soldiers and run them over as if it were a Thrashball tryout. Unfortunately, the loser of this tryout is sent to an early grave. Its a bad way to go, and caution is thrown to the wind as the good guys run around while experiencing a combo of terror and adrenaline during the entirety of the fight (massacre).
The Gatherers (Amnesia: The Dark Descent)
Fight or flight is a normal way to deal with enemies showing a predisposition to stalking and murder. Its difficult to do either in Amnesia, because the mere sight of a Gatherer causes poor Daniel to freak out to the point where he cant even see straight. A lack of weapons also doesnt help, but theres something more sinister about the games baddies: they can bust down doors and hiding places. I usually enjoy being able to run away from monsters, but its a whole new ball game when the first Gatherer follows Daniel to a closet, and proceeds to tear it apart as if its just warming up for the slaughter of the sack of flesh inside.
The situation is only made worse thanks to the appearance of the most common Gatherer. Sporting a mouth that has fallen away from its face and sags like a sack waiting to devour kittens, no amount of botox is going to fix that gaping maw. The more dangerous Servant Brute wears pieces of metal like a fall fashion accessory, and it's attached via rusty nails. Hopefully everyone involved has a tetanus shot.
SA-X (Metroid Fusion)
Theres a moment during the beginning of this classic that announces, Hey, this isnt just like every other Metroid game, and its the appearance of the heroines doppelganger, SA-X. The parasite appears behind the unassuming bounty hunter, and pauses for a brief moment as if contemplating its place in the universe. The camera gives a close-up of its face. It has no pupils, only sclera. This parasite has no solicitude for Samus well-being; its acting on killer instinct.
SA-X is just plain petrifying, and Samus spends a good portion of the game hiding from her pursuer. And once SA-X starts firing Ice Beams, things go from bad to HOLY CRAP IM GOING TO DIE levels of doom. SA-X always knows where Samus is going to be, has a hunting party, and is impervious to most attacks. At this point Samus would be better off retiring from the whole bounty hunter business to become a space station janitor.
Pyramid Head (Silent Hill 2)
OK, I have to admit something: Im not able to play Silent Hill 2 with the lights off. Amid the ever-present darkness, disgusting symphonies of death, and mind numbing sights that seek to burrow deep within one's eyeballs awaits one of Silent Hills most horrific monstrosities: Pyramid Head. Just the mere presence of the creature is unbearable, as the knife-wielding foe without a face is a symbol of gruesome executions. Just witnessing the despicable acts he commits on other frightening enemies cements his status as a monster not to be trifled with.
Pyramid Head is also a reminder that silence, mere grumbling, and moaning can be much more daunting and powerful than any evil overlords melodramatic speech of world domination could ever be (sorry, Dr. Wily). Many enemies in the Silent Hill franchise are meant to be symbolic of how the main characters feel about their lives or others, and that just makes this particular manifestation all the more terrifying.
Rabid Stalker (Borderlands 2)
The fauna and flora on the world of Pandora run the gamut from weird to deadly. Rabid Stalkers are unique in that they fall into both descriptions. Fighting them doesnt mean partaking in a normal confrontation. Oh no. Youre going to be thrust into a last-ditch scramble for dear life because these abominations have been hunting you, just waiting for an opening to pounce.
Rabid Stalkers are not only menacing behemoths with faces not even a mother could love, but the creatures like to sneak around in stealth mode before taking pot shots at players. Once found out, Pandoras hellish monsters switch over from emulating Solid Snakes sneaking antics and go into full-blown Wolverine berserker mode. If the sudden appearance of the baddie doesnt stop your heart, it will do its very best to get your mercenarys actual heart.
Stalker (Dead Space 2)
Hide-and-Seek and Peekaboo: these are the games Stalkers love to play with Isaac in Dead Space 2. Well, slightly modified versions of those games, which typically end with guts strewn about. Isaac already deals with a shattered psyche, and these hellish creatures drop a whole dumpster of creeptastic on top of the poor guy. And while Necromorphs love flinging themselves out of all manner of dark and dank nooks and crannies, the Stalker isnt waiting for a set piece to unleash its furious horror.
In fact, its probably waiting just around a corner like a thief in the night plotting and then BOOM, that thief just tried to steal your flesh and blood. Once found out, the Stalker can and will try to hide again in order to ambush Isaac. Oh, and its not alone. If it cant get the jump on Isaac it will go for strategy number two: overwhelming with sheer numbers via its pack mentality. Thanks for turning children games into monstrous acts of murder, Stalker.
The Hunter (Left 4 Dead)
In Left 4 Dead there are moments when a mob of zombies are narrowly defeated and a sense of calm takes over the impenetrable sense of dread. But thanks to AI that knows when its gone too soft on players, the moment is fleeting. Valves dastardly gem will unleash Special Infected. And during that brief moment of stability, the Hunter will pounce onto whatever poor soul deviated from the pack. It doesnt matter if you take the circuitous way through an abandoned home or direct path along the road to the safe houses; The Hunter always finds the strays without so much as a peep.
Now, its hard to explain the childish shrieks to friends after the rescue (please let there be a rescue). But those deafening sounds of terror are only an appropriate reaction to a hooded monster with Olympic-level jumping, a monster that straddles players before tearing out bits of flesh.
Time to turn on the lights
Are these the most terrifying stalkers ever to appear in a video game? Which ones give you nightmares? Let us know in the comments!
And if youd like to read about more creepy video game creatures, check out 10 unintentionally creepy characters in perfectly normal games.