You know that moment: the screen goes dark, a light flickers, and you hear the most monstrous howl. Maybe you reach to turn on the lights or you pause the game and take a deep breath. You’ve just entered the arena with one scary-ass creature.
Here at Boss Level Gamer, we take our bosses very seriously. Bosses in video games take on a number of forms and have a variety of difficulties. No matter the scenario, there’s always some level of tension in a boss battle. That tension ramps up, however, when the boss scares the piss out of you.
Hold on to your pants as we take a deep dive into the scariest video game bosses.
Rat King – The Last of Us 2
The Last of Us 2 was met with universal acclaim upon its release in 2020. Not only had gameplay improved, but there were a number of new enemies. Perhaps one of the most challenging additions was the Rat King boss. Its name comes from a rare phenomenon in nature where a mass of rats have their tails all tangled up and they move as one.
Abby has the unfortunate (or fortunate if you really hate her) happenstance of coming across this gargantuan monstrosity in a hospital basement. The Rat King consists of some of the first victims of the Cordyceps infection. That means this abomination simmered in a spore-infested room for over twenty years as all the crazed victims locked inside it melded together to form this. If that doesn’t constitute one of the scariest video game bosses, I don’t know what does.
Female Tripod – Dead Space 2
With a Dead Space remake on the distant horizon, it’s a great time to revisit the palpable dread and fear of Dead Space. The enemy design throughout the series continues to still be some of the most gruesome and disturbing.
One of the creepiest encounters in the game is with a Female Tripod in The Church of Unitology. Tripods are amalgamations of human bodies molded into one giant form. What makes this one especially scary is the apparent infant growing in its long tentacle. It can kill you by ripping off your arms, shoving a bladed arm down Issac’s throat. Then she severs his head. The icing on this bloody, gruesome cake happens when she tears him in half. What bliss.
T-00 or Mr. X – Resident Evil 2
Some bosses scare you in part for how they look. While others are just so persistent in trying to kill you that they have to be considered one of the scariest video game bosses. This creates a tense and frightening atmosphere. Enter, Mr. X. Who knew a tall dude in a fedora and a trench coat could be so menacing?
Mr. X, an unofficial name for the T-00, stalks Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield in both the original Resident Evil 2 and its remake. It is the remake, however, that is ramped up to one hundred. Mr. X’s persistence does not let up. He will chase you continuously until you reach specific areas, and man, are things tense. These encounters are part of what makes the Resident Evil 2 Remake the best in the series.
You cannot kill this hulking beast at first – only stun him. Later when he transforms, he becomes much more monstrous. Some of that fear dissipates, though, as then he’s fought only in scripted encounters.
Panzermörder – Call of Duty: Wwii
Call of Duty isn’t one of those games synonymous with horror, but WWII’s zombie-based co-op mode is full of some gruesome surprises. The premise is that Nazi Germany is trying to turn the tides in the war and has created an army of undead to help them.
The scariest part of this mode is the Panzermörder. This monstrosity towers above everyone and is made of the living dead and metal. Its mouth is a ring of flailing undead and a whole host of others make up most of its body.
Dead Hand – The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
It’s not often that a game rated Everyone 10+ is scary, but Ocarina of Time puts players in some pretty dark situations. There are already a handful of non-boss enemies that will make you squirm with disgust. From the giant, disembodied hands called Wallmasters to the life-draining, emaciated-looking ReDeads, Ocarina of Time is no stranger to scary.
Its scariest boss, however, is not the final boss. A mini-boss called Dead Hand takes that spot. This creepy creature lurks at the bottom of the well in the Shadow Temple. And to be frank, this creature looks like it hasn’t seen any light in its existence.
Its body is flabby and saturated with what looks like blood, it has infinite hands that reach out of the ground, and it wiggles disturbingly at the players. Its main attack is gnashing with its giant toothy grin.
Laura – The Evil Within
The Evil Within 2 is a horror game that does a great job of creating creatures in its world that are born from torment. The creature version of Laura was born from her fiery death at the age of 17. Her design points to how she dies. In battle, she fears fire. She also has bloody, flaky-looking skin that probably isn’t from eczema.
In her first major appearance, she bursts out of the ground in a torrent of blood with a blood-curling scream. Over the course of The Evil Within and for a brief stint in its sequel, Laura terrorizes the player. It’s bad enough that she’s creepy as she claws along the floor and ceiling with multiple clawed limbs, but the fact that she’s invulnerable for many of her encounters makes it especially terrifying.
Andross – Star Fox
Perhaps a lot of the fear and unsettlingness for Andross is manifested through nostalgia, but even today his innate creepiness still holds up. Andross is the main antagonist of the Star Fox series and the final boss in Star Fox 64.
In the game, he is a giant, maniacal floating primate head and hands that laughs and taunts Fox. He will try to eat you and swipe at Fox as you pilot his Arwing. His eyes lull around in his head, his cheeks wobble grossly, and eventually, his face explodes. When that happens, he becomes a giant disembodied brain and eyeballs that also must be defeated.
Pyramid Head – Silent Hill 2
Pyramid Head is most people’s go-to when thinking of the scariest video game bosses. The Silent Hill series has often tooled its creatures from a character’s most shameful feelings. In Silent Hill 2, Pyramid Head is born from James Sunderland’s guilt and desire to be punished for the sins he committed in his past. Like, spoiler alert, killing his wife.
Though he’s featured in other games and the movie series, Pyramid Head’s most note-worthy appearance is his first. His trademark pyramid is inspired by a combination of World War 2 tanks and other war vehicles and he will absolutely murder you with his Great Knife.
In Silent Hill 2, you face two of these murderous creatures at once. While the game design hasn’t aged well with poorly configured camera angles and somewhat stale gameplay, fighting two Pyramid Heads at once is still sweat-inducing.
Marguerite Baker – Resident Evil 7
Resident Evil 7 saw a return to the series’ roots with a trek down to good ole Louisana to meet the delightful Baker family. Their matriarch, Marguerite, was just a simple, mild-mannered housewife ready to greet you with a smile.
Okay, okay, that’s not the case at all. Marguerite was likely some of those things before the mold infected her and turned her into the monster we know her as. In Resident Evil 7 she initially hunts you down and attacks with bugs under her control.
Later on in the final battle with her, she turns into a grotesque insect-type monster with giant, extended limbs and a wasp nest-like growth extending from her stomach. And let’s not forget that deep, guttural voice.
The Orphan of Kos – Bloodborne
Oh, the miracle of birth is a beautiful thing. Except in Bloodborne. The battle with The Orphan of Kos is, without a doubt, features one of the most disturbing and scariest video game bosses in gaming history.
On a beach, a skeletal, naked creature climbs out of its amniotic sac with membrane tendrils trailing off its back. It sobs and howls at the moon. In battle, it weaponizes its mutated placenta and wails throughout the fight. It can also tear pieces off and throw them at you. All the while, The Orphan has a permanent, lifeless grin stretched across its face.