Video games create a unique opportunity for the horror genre, in that they allow the player to directly put themselves in the shoes of the protagonist.
Each horror game utilizes a variety of mechanics and design choices in order to ensure anyone can immerse themselves in the eerie atmosphere of their world and fear their imaginary boogeyman even after they turn off the console.
Where those design choices truly shine is in the monsters in horror games.
Be it through their grotesque appearance, unnerving behavior, or relentless aggression, they put the player on edge and give them some of the most memorable (if not traumatizing) experiences in gaming.
Let’s look at some of these monsters and examine why they were the masters of turning us into mind-broken wrecks.
10. Pyramid Head - Silent Hill
In Silent Hill 2, Pyramid Head is meant to be the physical embodiment of the main character’s guilt, becoming the executioner that will bring him to justice. And oh boy, if he isn’t the most terrifying executioner of all time!
Everything about Pyramid Head screams good horror design. The blood-covered, bulging muscles, the butcher’s apron, and, of course, the giant red pyramid, which clearly causes him immense amounts of pain.
Where Pyramid Head’s character truly shines, however, is in the first few encounters the player has with him.
The first time James Sutherland meets Pyramid Head, the monster isn’t aggressive towards him. James only sees him lurking behind a gate, as if waiting for him to make one wrong move. The second time, Pyramid Head shows off his lethal prowess by massacring two other monsters with little to no effort, all the while James is terrified and looking for a safe place to hide.
Each encounter with reveals more and more of his ruthlessness and power. When the player is finally forced to confront him, they know all too well what the monster is capable of, and that makes them all the more terrified of what his punishment for James might be.
This kind of build up is why Pyramid Head is so effective as an enigmatic monster. You will never truly know what he is capable of, but every time you meet, the danger becomes more ominous and grave.