No matter the genre, the best video games are populated with interesting and creative monsters that frighten, intimidate, or even fascinate players during combat.
Whether it’s by utilizing unusual battle mechanics, or simply developing a unique aesthetic, these video game monsters shine like stars throughout gameplay.
Warning: this list contains spoilers.
Silent Hill 2 (2001)
Metacritic Rating: 89%
Publisher: Konami, Team Silent
Consoles: Playstation 2, Xbox, PlayStation 3, Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360
While the original game graphics might appear dated now, nothing can detract from the mounting sense of dread that Pyramid Head inspired in his debut game.
His head is the only thing non-human about this horrifying butcher, but the sound of his giant cleaver scraping along the floor still sends chills down most gamers’ spines.
If you haven’t played this game—or the rest of the franchise—yet, you’re missing out.
Dark Souls (2011)
Steam Rating: 9/10
Publisher: Namco Bandai Games
Consoles: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
The mimics themselves provide more shock value than anything else, but they do make the entire game much more interesting.
By disguising themselves as treasure chests, mimics cleverly go hidden throughout various levels of the game, and are inherently optional enemies.
In essence, they rely on a player’s greed to thrive—as well as the complacency instilled from previous video games, where treasure chests are a normal, safe aspect of gameplay.
Nier Gestalt and Nier Replicant (2010)
Google Users Rating: 91%
Publisher: Square Enix
Consoles: Playstation 3, Xbox 360
The Nier games are phenomenal, both narratively and in terms of creative monster design.
In this game, the shades are the main species of monsters. Their origins are a major reveal in the story, and make for an interesting twist on the typical hack-and-slash combat of comprehensive action games.
Shadow of the Colossus (2005)
GameStop Rating: 4.3/5
Consoles: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3
Shadow of the Colossus is a fascinating game from multiple standpoints, but the creators excelled when designing the various colossi that the player must fight.
Each colossus has its own puzzle, which the player must solve to move on to the next part of the game.
The puzzles increase in complexity, but the colossi’s designs reflect those puzzles in deceptive ways.
Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (2011)
Steam Rating: 9/10
Publisher: Bethesda Game Studios
Consoles: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows
Hailing from deep inside the forests spanning Tamriel, the Spriggans are a tree-like race, resembling dryads or nymphs from other mythologies. Their natural beauty evokes sleek images of the Ents from Lord of The Rings.
They rely mostly on magic to stay safe and invisible from the greater world, and are an overall peaceful race.
When in dire need, however, the Spriggans can summon creatures of the forest to come to their assistance.
Left 4 Dead 2 (2009)
Steam Rating: 10/10
Consoles: Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows, Mac, Linux
The Witch’s aesthetic design might be straightforward, but what makes her stand out as a good monster are the mechanics involved. She wails and gives off eerie, sobbing sounds that a perceptive player can hear from far away.
Because the Witch is such a strong and optional enemy, most players will choose to maneuver their path around her, rather than engaging. Sometimes, it’s best to let wailing witches lie.
The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker (2002)
Google Users Rating: 95%
Consoles: Wii U, GameCube
Although his construction is simple—little more than a giant head and hands—Gohdan isn’t just a simple combat test for Link to demonstrate his prowess.
For one thing, having eyes in your palms is a cool design feature. And for another, it enables this monster to spot you throughout the fight.
Consoles: Game Boy, Game Boy Advance, Game Boy SP, Nintendo 3DS
Yes, Pikachu is a video game monster, even if it’s exceedingly adorable.
After all, Pokémon is short for “pocket monsters,” and none are better known than this cat-sized electric mouse.
Most Pokémon resemble some kind of sentient household object, or pre-existing animal. This may not result in the most original ideas, but you can’t deny their popularity.
Metal Gear Solid (1998)
Google Users Rating: 96%
Consoles: PlayStation, PlayStation 3, Microsoft Windows
Psycho Mantis is primarily known not for his design, but rather for the mechanics of the fight.
Metal Gear Solid marked the first time a game could read the memory from your Playstation, referencing other titles you’d played.
Simply put, Psycho Mantis freaked players out, since his character broke the fourth wall with a vengeance.
If you’ve yet to experience this eerie monster for yourself, check out this title and the rest of the Metal Gear series as soon as possible.
Rom The Vacuous
Metacritic Rating: 92%
Console: PlayStation 4
In a video game chock-full of gory and visually terrifying monsters, Rom stands out as particularly disgusting and exciting.
Like other games from the Souls series, Bloodborne conveys world lore and narrative primarily via found items.
If players don’t pay careful attention to those item descriptions, locations, and origins, they may miss out on the storyline’s key components.
Rom the Vacuous is an enormous spider, although her design doesn’t actually look very spidery.
Another curious aspect: she shows no signs of aggression…until the player initiates combat.
The fact that Rom only acts in self-defense speaks to her presence of mind and complex personality.
Truly memorable video game monsters accomplish far more than putting up a good fight or looking cool.
Whether they are from a horror game, visual novel, the best movie monsters, or mainstream names from Resident Evil or Silent Hill, unique designs, complex mechanics, and interesting origins all play a role in creating a fun, challenging gameplay experience that will leave fans begging for more of their favorite monsters.