Bad Vibes: The Characters That Make Us Feel Most Unsettled
Some video game characters give us the heebies, while others give us the jeebies. It’s when characters manage to combine the two that we start to feel unsettled on almost a primal level. Here is our list of enemies and NPCs in games that just made us feel wrong, and while not all traditionally scary, we certainly felt our heart rates go down when we knew they were gone.
Regenerador – Resident Evil 4
Resident Evil 4 is hands-down one of my favourite games ever. Not only did it have a new focus on action set-pieces and top-notch world-building, but the game also features some of the best enemy designs in the whole Resident Evil franchise to date. Now I could go on and on about the fear-inducing roar of a Chainsaw Ganado revving up to decapitate poor Leon Kennedy, or Ramon Salazar and his pet Verdugos, but I want to focus on the true nightmare fuel in Resident Evil: the Regenerador.
Regeneradors (also known as Regenerators) are bioweapons created during the Los Illuminados’ experiments by infecting a human host with multiple Plaga parasites (it’s a Resident Evil game, of course the story is nonsense). The result is a grey humanoid creature with a huge gaping mouth and in the case of its Iron Maiden counterpart, spiky protrusions growing all over its body. As the name suggests, the Regenerador is capable of regrowing any part of its body, including its head, meaning it can really soak up damage. The best way to take it down is to target the leech-like Plagas on its body using a thermal scope mounted to a rifle. The thing is, you don’t get the thermal scope until you’ve already started encountering these gross jerks.
I remember the first time I ran into the creatures is in a small laboratory freezer. It burst through a door and stumbled towards me, breathing heavily (the monster, not me). I unloaded every bullet I could on the threat, blowing off its head, limbs and of course, shooting at its crotch. It was only when I started lobbing grenades that the beast fell. Escaping the lab, I ran into a few more Regeneradors, each time wasting more and more precious bullets until one finally got the drop on me, chewing out my throat and wriggling all over my limp corpse. I have played through Resident Evil 4 multiple times now, and every time I hear the raspy breath of Regenerador, I am filled with dread. Gross jerks
The Moon from Majora’s Mask
In a world full of creepy-faced mask sellers and toilet hands, you wouldn’t blame Link for falling to his knees, looking up into the sky and screaming “why?!”. However, in Majora’s Mask, even this simple act of self-defeat will be met with abject horror in the form of a moon menacingly staring down the residents of Termina as it hurtles towards them. When I say “staring” I actually mean staring. This moon has a gigantic face, cos of course it does, twisted into a horrifying grimace that is no doubt burnt into the brain of anyone who played the game as a child. It looks like Boris Johnson turned into a White Walker.
What makes The Moon so scary is the sense of inevitable doom it casts over the whole game. If Link doesn’t successfully summon the Four Giants and stop The Moon’s downfall, everyone is dead, a fact you are reminded of every time you look up. Even during brief moments made for relaxing Link, such as fishing, The Moon slowly inches closer and closer, ever-increasing the player’s level of panic.
At the end of your quest, once The Moon stops falling, it still has a face. It will always have a gross face, except now this gross face is held up by giants. It’s a lot. Maybe this is why Link never speaks, cos, if he did I think all he would say is “Fuck this shit”, and I would have to agree with him.
Anything and Everything – Prey
You sit down in your simple office cubicle at TransStar Industries. You grab a cup of coffee and lean back in your chair. It’s Friday, and you better get the Johnson report filed! Suddenly, your coffee mug starts to wiggle. Now you’ve seen some weird things go down at TransStar but wiggling coffee cups weren’t on the job description. Suddenly, four spider-like legs burst out of the cup as it reforms into a black, oily spider-like… thing. You panic and throw it across the room. It hits the wall with a thud and slides to the ground. As you’re about to scream for help, the Johnson report on your desk contorts, transforms, and leaps on to your head. You manage to rip it from your face as it tries to tear away at your neck. You give it the same end as the coffee cup. Breathing a sigh of relief, you lean back into your chair. A chair that starts to wiggle. Having your ass literally eaten by a chair isn’t something you expected to happen today.
This is the world of Prey, and those black alien-spiders are Mimics, a small and deceptive form of Typhon. These tiny horrors can disguise themselves as any ordinary object, making every room and hallway in Prey a possible ambush. On their own, they can be taken down quite easily, but a shelf of books turning into a swarm of Mimics can be quite overwhelming. So often I would waste ammo on inanimate objects that I was convinced were Mimics in waiting. I don’t think many other games have made me so paranoid about the mundane. It’s not that they are dangerous, it’s that they are tricksy, and it’s the lying that hurts me most.
Lisa – PT
P.T (or Playable Teaser if you’re nasty), a short teaser-demo on the PlayStation 4 for a never-released Silent Hills game, is the stuff of legend at this point. Due to Mummy Konami and Daddy Hideo’s falling out, the game is no longer available for download in its original form. Now the never-ending hallway of P.T is relegated to the consoles of those smart enough not to delete the game to free up memory space, mere days before it was taken down (FML). On the plus side, this means it’s quite unlikely that I will ever to run into Lisa again. And for that, I am thankful.
Like the above entry on Mimics, P.T leans heavily on turning the mundane into chest-tightening terror. An ever-revolving hallway filled with familial knick-knacks and a radio show that makes the Kyle and Jackie-O show seem tame slowly morphs into a literal descent to hell – so not too different from the Kyle and Jackie-O show, I guess. The voice over the radio talks about a man killing his pregnant wife, shooting her in the eye and the stomach. This woman’s name is Lisa, and she is watching you.
Starting with ruffling sounds and faint laughing, Lisa starts making her presence known, taunting you, before pulling off the biggest piss-your-pants jump scare in gaming history, when she pops out of the abyss and screams in your face. With your heart well and truly attacked, Lisa reveals herself. Tall, gaunt and bloodied, the smiling ghost will haunt your descent into madness, even sometimes possessing the player. You can not harm or defeat her; you can only move forward along the infinite corridor. The slow build-up and gradual changes Lisa makes on every loop are unnerving, but it’s the sound of her breathing into my ear that made the hairs on my neck stand on end. It has been six years since I last played P.T, and even just writing about it has made me feel uneasy. Really makes you wonder how special that Silent Hill game could’ve been.
Adoring Fan – Oblivion
I’m sure most people reading this are aware of the lock-in and camera zoom that occurs when talking to NPCs in most Bethesda games, such as Oblivion. It’s a bit weird and immersion breaking at times, but nothing more than a minor annoyance. It’s when this minor annoyance is coupled with an NPC with Swimfan levels of obsession that we get The Adoring Fan, and by Azura, he is one of the scariest beings ever coded into a game.
Once you become Grand Champion in The Arena (go you!), you are accosted by a young Bosmer commoner with a hairstyle that would make Jedward blush. He will ask if he can join you on your various adventures around Cyrodill – a choice that can have serious consequences. Unlike other followers, the Adoring Fan is a massive douchebag that will run and hide at the slightest sign of trouble, often hiding in places that attract more enemies that then attack you. He is a little red-headed pied-piper of misery.
If you manage to hack and magic your way through the swarm of enemies, the Adoring Fan will perk up and snap your camera back to him, cos of course he has dumb shit to say. He is the epitome of that scene from The Office where Angela sneaks on Dwight except in this case Angela also leads a horde of goblins to the bar. Even death can’t halt this stalker, often respawning where he fell and running back to you with his dumb little smile, completely oblivious (heh) to what just happened. Somehow in a game filled with portals to a literal hell dimension, the harbinger of death that is the Adoring Fan and the chaos follows him is my biggest fear.