Monster Mania: Say Hello to the Bad Guy

Monster Mania is a weekly column celebrating the unique and varied monster designs in horror gaming.

The basis of the best horror media is making a participant feel helpless. In film, horror presents a terrifying situation that the viewer spends the rest of their evening imagining could happen to them. In games, players can react and take charge of their fate. But within the last 20 years, we have seen new horror experiences that put players not just in the shoes of a survivor but that of the monster itself. So, I have compiled five horror games that empower the player with hellish carnage.


Ever want to break free from the shackles of your biological containment to enact revenge on those who imprisoned you? By the way, you are a horrific and very pissed-off blob monster hungry for human flesh. Carrion is a monster lover’s dream, given its Metroidvania structure and its approach to environmental traversal as a biological nightmare. Maneuvering around environments utilizing pipes and crawlspaces to spring the perfect ambush on unsuspecting bad guys is as kinetic as it is gorily satisfying. Whether you’re flaying, feasting, or planting parasites in your victims, Carrion empowers players with various strategic abilities. Smartly utilizing these abilities is vital to progressing through the puzzle-like complexity of combat. Except, rather than simply finding keys for locked doors, you’re figuring out how to slip around an enemy’s shield to get at their tasty innards.

The Darkness

Based upon the hit Dark Horse Comic series, The Darkness puts the player in the greasy boots of ex-thug Jackie Estacado, who has become imbued with the darkness. This newfound power allows Jackie to be flanked by two demonic tentacles, which I affectionately named left and righty, which can be used to slash enemies, destroy environments, and devour those sweet, sweet mafia hearts. Now, with great power comes a catch or two, as the darkness powers give Jackie a leg up in combat but cannot be used when near light. Managing environmental light sources such as street lights, neon signs, and florescent bulbs becomes as essential as monitoring Jackie’s ammo count, lest you want to pistol whip your way out of shootouts (Spoiler: Bad idea). The Darkness did a fantastic job of empowering players with these demonic powers while never allowing them to feel completely invulnerable, making for a more strategic super-powered shooter.


Maneater blends the concept of Jaws with Tony Hawk’s score attack, delivering an entertaining approach to becoming the ultimate predator. The game’s semi-open Metroidvania world is the perfect hunting ground for this player-controlled mutagen bull shark to carve a slice out of wildlife and humans. Feasting on the flesh of the ocean’s denizens is simple enough, but have no fear, as even those pesky land dwellers too scared to step into the water are easily reachable. The shark can hurl itself from the comfort of the water onto land, flopping from one terrified (and soon-to-be consumed) human to the next. Wreak havoc on the shores for too long, and shark hunters will begin to hunt the player much like the cops in Grand Theft Auto would once you hit five stars. It is the most arcade-centric entry on the list, but Maneater’s commitment to carnage is commendable all the same. 

The Suffering

They simply do not make games like The Suffering anymore. Featuring an aesthetic that rivals the grungy nastiness of Manhunt, The Suffering sees convicted killer Torque’s life sentence interrupted when monsters overthrow the prison he’s incarcerated. Outside of the usual assortment of 3rd person shooter firearms and throwables, Torque has the unique ability to become a monster himself. Once his insanity meter has filled, Torque will enter a gut-wrenching state of becoming The Creature, a musclebound monstrosity whose hands are replaced with talons and an elongated blade. Due to Torque’s devastating damage output, the Creature is best utilized when faced with The Suffering’s more challenging enemy segments. Taking the fight back to these hellish creatures is not only satisfyingly crunchy, but The Creature abides by the game’s thematic theme of a man suppressing the monster others have labeled him as. 

Alien vs. Predator

Whoever wins, we lose. Actually, having a game series that allowed players to experience the fraught firefights of Colonial Marines, the precision hunts of Predators, and the silent slaughters of Xenomorphs is a win for all gamers. Rebellion, the team behind 1994’s Alien vs. Predator for the Atari Jaguar and 1999’s Aliens Versus Predator for PC, return to the AVP fray with arguably their most refined version of the series for the 7th console generation. Bringing to life what only before had been the case in the pages of Dark Horse Comics, watching these three uniquely different hunters duke it out in industrial ships and dense jungles was fantastic. Each chapter of the game puts the player in control of one of these hunters, utilizing their signature equipment of pulse rifles, shoulder mounter plasma cannons, and baby mouths to eviscerate their prey before they find themselves turned into a hunting trophy. There’s empowerment, and then there is the satisfying brutality that continues the Alien vs. Predator universe’s signature brand of cold, unflinching violence.

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