Something in them that you simply didn't see
Ever since Donkey Kong threw his first barrel to keep Jumpman from saving Pauline, gamers have been battling savage monsters, and we've gotten really, really good at it. Even with fear in our hearts we face off against beasts from Bowser to Gohma to Pyramid Head, intent on bringing their reigns of terror to an end. This digital-age beast hunt shows no signs of abating, with games like Evolve introducing new and even more ferocious monsters to fight.
But, wait. You can play the monster in Evolve too, where really all you want to do is grow and live. That's an uncomfortable notion, and Evolve isn't the first one to bring it up. Recent years have shown a greater focus on the "monsters" we fight as creatures rather than just waddling, roaring targets, and that can end with moments of awful realization: some of these monsters are actually pretty great. Case in point: the following horrific monsters that stole our hearts--you know, once you look past the fangs and scaly hides. Read on, and try not to think about the horrible things heroes have done to these beasts. Maybe YOU'RE the monster.
Big Daddies (BioShock)
The terror! The first time you see a Big Daddy, its drill is halfway through a man's chest. That pretty much encapsulates these creatures, vicious beasts made of metal, human organs and diving gear that will kill you dead. Communicating only through guttural roars as they shake the floors of Rapture with their lumbering, they are an imposing and ever-present force. Realizing you have to fight one all by yourself feels like something slammed a giant drill through your chest.
The truth: Rare is the occasion that a Big Daddy is seen more than ten feet from his Little Sister companion, because she is the most important thing in the world to him. When she's safe, he's docile, and will at worst bat you out of the way if you stand too close. He only turns monstrous when she needs protecting, and he will die before letting harm come to her. And before you say it's all mental conditioning, consider this: Big Daddies will actually cry when they can't find their Little Sisters. Oh, my heart hurts.
The terror! You're Banjo and Kazooie, on an adventure to save your sister from an evil witch. You're exploring a strange new part of her hideout, and all seems quiet as you glide through an underwater tunne--SWEET MOTHER OF GOD WHAT IS THAT??? A giant metal whale-shark named Clanker is what, and you're going to spend the rest of the level walking over his deeply wounded flesh or crawling around his gushy metallic insides. Sob.
The truth: Once you get past the horrifying teeth and creepy moaning voice, Clanker's a pretty nice guy who's been dealt a rough hand. Sentenced to act as the witch's garbage grinder, he wants nothing more than a breath of fresh air and some dental work, and he's grateful for every bit of help you give him. He's a lot nicer than most of the other creatures you'll encounter in Gruntilda's lair, so dont judge a book by its horrendous gaping maw.
Bigfoot (Red Dead Redemption)
The terror! John Marston is not one to suffer the likes of baby-eating monstrosities, and that conviction is what puts you in contact with the Sasquatches of the Red Dead Redemption world. After speaking with an elderly forest-dwelling fellow, John learns that a little girl was recently eaten by a Sasquatch. After that, our hero does what he knows is right and goes to send the bloody, flesh-eating menaces to the devil once and for all.
The truth: Turns out listening to a crazy hill-person shooting into the woods might have been ill-advised. After an impromptu species-thinning exercise that brings the Sasquatch population to near zero, John encounters the last living Bigfoot, only to discover the creature is quite intelligent and gentle. His species is made up of herbivores that dine on fruit and fungus, so babies were never on the menu. Now the poor creature is racked with sorrow at the destruction of his kind, all of which is John's fault. Dear lord, the beast is me.
Fawkes and Uncle Leo (Fallout 3)
The terror! After struggling your way through Vault 87, battling vicious super mutants and tentacle-vomiting abominations, you don't feel inclined to have mercy on anything in this hellhole. The hulking mutant Fawkes is no exception, sporting bared fangs, a skeletal face, and flesh straining to cover up his way-too-huge muscles. Another equally horrifying mutant named Uncle Leo is also known to wander the wasteland, and can easily take you by surprise. Encountering either of these two, especially Fawkes when he has a giant metal beatin' stick in hand, is grounds for bowel evacuation.
The truth: While it is largely wise to fear Fallout's super mutants--who will, let's be clear, do their best to kill the bajesus out of you--Fawkes and Uncle Leo are flowers in a field of shit. Both have suffered greatly due to their condition, but have done their best to overcome it. Fawkes, for instance, has put all his energy into learning about the world and is extremely intelligent, while Uncle Leo tells his story and gives charity to anyone he encounters. Aww, what a nice guy!
Christopher (Shadows of the Damned)
The terror! In the words of Garcia Hotspur, "what the shit is that?" Hidden deep in the bloody and putrid alleys of the underworld, Christopher looks right at home in this hell: with black eyes, giant curling horns, more razor sharp-teeth than a great white tooth fairy, and a giant eyeball hanging over his head, this demon is a ten-foot terror. While he might be a human-demon hybrid, his beast side is fearfully dominant, and he could probably split any of his human cousins in half by accident.
The truth: While he probably doesn't get invited to many family reunions, it's not for lack of humanity. Christopher embraces both sides of himself and is friendly to more vanilla homo sapiens, besides being a sweetheart in general. He's ecstatic about helping Garcia take down the lord of the underworld, and finding his lovely little gardens along the way is always a huge relief. "You gotta look underneath the leath-ry exterior," he tells Garcia, and didn't we all learn something today.
The terror! As if Gordon Freeman wasn't already having a bad enough day, what with inadvertently setting off the apocalypse, he also has to deal with chest-armed cyclopses getting up in his business. A regular enemy in Half-Life 1, the vortigaunts are vicious beasts that are not to be trifled with. In addition to their well, alien appearances, they're formidable foes that can kill Gordon dead with a few well-placed electrical blasts. All for the crime of existing in their general vicinity, so let's toss "merciless" in there too.
The truth: Only in Half-Life 2 do you realize that the vorts aren't as bloodthirsty as they appear. Their brutal behavior in Black Mesa was the result of being enslaved by an overgrown fetus called the Nihilanth, and once freed from its control they become a lot friendlier. They actually sympathize with the plight of the enslaved human race, having been slaves themselves for "eons", and join up with the human resistance to help break the Combine's control over Earth. All that despite their first encounter with humanity being the business end of Gordon's crowbar. Err, no hard feelings, guys?
The Colossi (Shadow of the Colossus)
The terror! So these things could step on you and not even notice. The Colossi in Shadow of the Colossus are breathtakingly gigantic beasts, and combatting them is not for the weak of heart. While some are terrifying based on sheer size, many also have unique and awful ways to kill you, like a hungry sandworm or a turtle that shoots lightning out of his face or this little shit. They're grand in scale and vicious in demeanor, and it takes every ounce of your bravery to face off against them.
The truth: These massive, lumbering beasts wouldn't bother you if you didn't bother them first. Even the most vicious Colossi are territorial at best, and just don't like seeing you encroaching on their space. Plus, for every one that tries to kill you, there's another like Hydrus or Phalanx that just wants to be left alone. Quadratus will even act curious and try to play with you. Before you stab it to death, anyway.
But now he's dear and so unsure
That completes a look at horrific video game monsters that stole our hearts. But the guilt you feel over killing some of them? Naw, that goes on and on. Which of these is your favorite adorable gaming monster? Is there a benevolent brute we missed? How long do you plan to weep on your knees, begging for forgiveness? Tell us in the comments below, and your groveling's probably insufficient, but that's okay--these monsters are good people like that.
Can't get enough video game monsters? Check out everything we know about Evolve. Feeling unrepentant? Maybe The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is more your speed. Need something cute? There's always 14 Pokemon that are just ordinary objects with googly eyes.