Video game monsters have come a long way from 2D pixel art depictions of ungodly beasts and otherworldly creatures.
In this list, we’re highlighting the scariest monsters in video games and ranking them in order of least terrifying to the downright disturbing.
Make sure to check back as we continue to update this list with new contenders in the future, and let us know if we missed any of your favorite scary video game monsters!
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Appears in: Half-Life
What better a monster to start with than the iconic Headcrab, one of the first enemies introduced to the player in Half-Life and the source of many jumpscares throughout the game.
Headcrabs are described as omnivorous, parasitic alien organisms that come in a variety of flavors and have appeared throughout the Half-Life series as well as other games.
They love to hide in places the player wouldn’t think to check before jumping onto your face and filling up the entire screen as they try to turn you into a mindless zombie.
Appears in: The Legend of Zelda
ReDeads are one of the creepiest enemies in The Legend of Zelda and give off the appearance of slow-moving zombies, that is until you get too close to one.
Anytime Link approaches a ReDead, it emits a piercing scream that temporarily immobilizes him just long enough for it to latch onto Link’s back and deal a lot of damage in a short amount of time.
The original ReDeads first appear in Ocarina of Time but different variations can be encountered throughout the series including Majora’s Mask, The Wind Waker, and Twilight Princess to name a few.
Appears in: Final Fantasy VII
Final Fantasy is chockful of memorable bosses but few stack up to Jenova, an extraterrestrial life form with a unique genetic structure that can absorb traits from victims and inject its own to create monsters.
Referred to in legends as the “calamity from the skies,” Jenova travels from planet to planet destroying all life by absorbing their prey’s memories until they become empty husks.
To this point, experiments on Jenova’s cells have resulted in the creation of several other villains throughout the series, including Sephiroth.
Appears in: Evil Within 2
The Evil Within games draw a lot of inspiration from Silent Hill, particularly in the way of monster designs, so it seems fitting they’d have some of the most disturbing bosses on this list.
One such example is the Matriarch from Evil Within 2, which serves as the final boss of the game and is depicted as a grotesque creature covered in boils.
Most of the fight is spent avoiding the Matriarch’s devastating melee attacks and trying not to vomit from its disgustingly deformed appearance.
Appears in: Until Dawn
As if Native American folk tales don’t make Wendigos sound terrifying enough, Until Dawn ups the ante by having one physically stalk your group throughout the game.
Characterized by their bony bodies, piercing shrieks, and razor-sharp teeth, the Wendigos stop at nothing to secure their prey and can easily outpace any human.
While players can use stealth and distraction tools to bypass or even momentarily trap Wendigos, it’s only a matter of time until they hunt you down.
Appears in: Grounded
Many players have a natural aversion to spiders and we can’t say we blame them considering the great lengths video games go to depict them as terrifying monsters.
A great example of this is the survival crafting game Grounded, which takes place in a backyard where the player is shrunk down to the size of an ant and forced to battle various insects and arthropods.
This includes eight-legged nightmares such as the Orb Weaver and Wolf Spider as well as the Hedge Broodmother, a boss creature that traps the player in its lair until the fight is over.
Appears in: BioShock
Aside from looking like menacing deep-sea divers, BioShock’s Big Daddies don’t pose much of a threat until you decide to mess with one of their Little Sisters.
Once this happens, they’ll start tracking your location to dish out their own brand of mechanical justice using a not-so-friendly-looking drill.
The haunting sounds they make combined with their hulking metal bodies and relentless pursuit do a great job of striking fear into players’ hearts in an already unsettling game.
Appears in: Left 4 Dead
Both Left 4 Dead and its sequel include special infected enemy types that introduce unique challenges for teams of players to overcome.
Among them is the Witch, a seemingly passive female zombie who makes her presence known by continuous wailing that, once interrupted, triggers a horde of zombies to spawn in.
So long as your team doesn’t make noise or attack her, you should be okay, but in a game like Left 4 Dead, that’s easier said than done.
Appears in: Silent Hill
In our list ranking the most evil video game villains, we illustrated just how creepy Pyramid Head’s design is, both from a visual and narrative perspective.
Armed with a massive blade so heavy he has to drag it around, Pyramid Head is a slow-moving nightmare that’s meant to symbolize the player character’s guilt and suffering.
In Silent Hill 2, he can be seen continually stalking players along dark hallways until they’re left with no choice but to confront him in one of the most harrowing bossfights in the game.
Appears in: Bloodborne
From Software games are known to have some deeply disturbing enemy designs, particularly when it comes to bosses, but this next monster can be encountered just by exploring Bloodborne’s world.
By its namesake, the Brainsucker employs a unique grab attack that latches onto the player’s head before driving a large tentacle into their skull and consuming their brain matter.
Combine this with the fact they’re extremely quick, drain players’ Insight stat, and can also cast spells if you encounter a hooded ‘elite version,’ their appearance on this list is a total no-brainer.
Appears in: Call of Cthulhu
There’s no shortage of scary monsters in H.P. Lovecraft’s writing, a detail that’s been thoroughly explored by survival horror games throughout history.
A great example of this is the Dagon in Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth, which serves as the final boss encounter after countless hours spent observing creepy statues and battling its minions.
The Dagon’s grand reveal is just as terrifying as you’d expect, with the giant eldritch fish-like monster emerging from the depths before letting out a massive roar and unleashing its rage on the player.
Appears in: Resident Evil 3
Resident Evil is another survival horror franchise teeming with terrifyingly powerful monsters such as the Nemesis.
Characterized as a sentient bioweapon commissioned by the Umbrella Corporation to carry out their dirty work, the Nemesis spends most of Resident Evil 3 stalking the player and other S.T.A.R.S. members.
What makes this creature so unsettling, aside from its disfigured appearance, is the fact that it attacks without warning and can’t be killed with standard weapons, forcing you to keep your distance until the final showdown.
Appears in: Metroid Dread
One of the newer enemies introduced in Metroid Dread, E.M.M.I. (Extraplanetary Multiform Mobile Identifier) are powerful robots programmed to capture Samus at all costs.
They can be found patrolling different parts of levels creepily walking on all fours and can scale walls and ceilings using their sharp claws to chase Samus down once alerted.
Their strange and erratic movements combined with their complete invulnerability to Samus’ normal weapons make any encounter with the E.M.M.I. feel tense by default.
Museum of Witchcraft Deathclaw
Appears in: Fallout 4
Anyone who’s played a Fallout game can attest to just how scary it is to stumble across a Deathclaw while roaming around the open world.
However, they become even more terrifying when confined to an indoor location, such as the Museum of Witchcraft from Fallout 4.
During a hidden quest, players can travel to this dark, seemingly abandoned museum and soon find themselves face to face with a Savage Deathclaw along with a pile of its human victims.
Appears in: P.T.
It’s a shame players never got to experience the final version of P.T.’s unnerving gameplay premise in which you explore a looping home haunted by a malevolent ghost named Lisa.
Having the unfortunate luck of being murdered by her husband while still pregnant, Lisa goes on to stalk the halls of her home and torment any visitors that cross her path.
The combination of her creepy design, sporadic movements, and tendency to possess players makes for one of the scariest monsters we’ve ever encountered in a video game.
Appears in: Dead Space
Lumping all of Dead Space’s Necromorphs together may seem a bit like cheating seeing as they take on various forms with unique behaviors and physiological differences.
However, they all share one common goal: gathering as many bodies as they can and reanimating their corpses to ensure the infection continues to spread.
While the game gives you the proper tools to thwart their efforts, just knowing Necromorphs used to be your crewmates adds an extra layer of horror to every encounter.
Appears in: Resident Evil Village
One of the more recent additions to Resident Evil’s extensive roster of terrifying villains, Countess Alcina Dimitrescu, commonly referred to as Lady Dimitrescu, secures a spot near the top of our list.
Born into nobility, she ruled over the peasantry near Castle Dimitrescu for over sixty years was feared for her alleged crimes of mass murder and cannibalism, both of which were later found to be true.
Lady Dimitrescu is a towering figure that’s prone to give chase throughout the castle’s interior armed with razor-sharp claws that foreshadow her true form.
Appears in: Alien Isolation
As far as video game monster setups are concerned, nothing is scarier than being trapped in a crumbling space station as a drooling Xenomorph stalks you from the vents above.
Alien: Isolation does such a great job of adapting this iconic movie monster to an interactive format while ramping up the tension with anxiety-inducing chase and stealth sequences.
Although you can momentarily avoid the Xenomorph using flares, noisemakers, and a handy flamethrower, its survivability is simply too high to have any hope of eliminating the threat for good.
The Gaping Dragon
Appears in: Dark Souls
Throughout the Dark Souls series, players are tasked with bringing down all sorts of unsightly monsters using an array of weapons and quick reflexes.
However, some enemies are designed to lure players into a false sense of security before striking fear into their hearts within a split second.
This is the case with the Gaping Dragon, an early boss that first appears to be nothing more than a meager reptile before revealing its entire upper body is a giant mouth full of sharp and disgusting teeth.
Appears in: Subnautica
Last but not least, the Reaper is one of many Leviathan class fauna players can encounter while exploring Subnautica’s alien waters.
While they may not be the largest creature in the game, with that title belonging to the Sea Dragon Leviathan, they’re by far the scariest encounter in a game already brimming with aquatic nightmares.
Reapers typically stick to murky waters near the seabed, making them difficult to see from afar until one manages to sneak up behind you and let out a blood-curdling roar that’ll send chills down your spine.