Zombies are a popular enemy in video games, whether as the main villains or to introduce special gameplay in non-horror titles like Call of Duty: Black Ops. There’s just something inherently creepy about masses of the undead shambling or running after players that gets the adrenaline pumping.
Some games have taken the undead creature to new heights, by re-imagining the monster in scary and unprecedented ways. It’s hard to select only 10 creepy zombies out of the hordes of horrible ones, but horror fans will surely agree that these are some of the most unique and creepy takes on the creature in recent gaming history.
10 The Husks (Mass Effect)
The Mass Effect series introduced a number of interesting creatures, but the Husks had to be the creepiest by far. They make for one of the most unique zombie concepts we've seen in gaming: Husks are created when organic beings, such as humans, are placed on large spikes called Dragon’s Teeth. These spikes drain the body of organic material and replace it with synthetic.
When another organic being gets too close, or the spike withdraws, the Husks are set loose to attack their enemies violently. Capable of delivering EMP blasts, they certainly aren’t traditional zombies, but they’re nevertheless formidable to face on the field of battle.
9 The Licker (Resident Evil Series)
One of the most iconic enemies in the Resident Evil series, Lickers are a frightening form of zombie resulting from a mutated strain of the T-Virus. Lickers crawl around on all fours, have large brains that are exposed to the open air and boast ridiculously long tongues.
These beasts are large and capable of traversing any terrain. Their only weakness is their lack of sight: with no eyes, they rely on their sense of hearing to detect their enemies. The player is often better off taking a stealthy approach to avoid detection by these enemies, as fighting one --or several-- can easily result in death.
8 The Molded (Resident Evil 7)
After their previous games were criticized for losing touch with their roots, Capcom decided to reboot the Resident Evil series with Resident Evil 7. Introducing a new type of zombie called the Molded was a risky move, but one that seems to have paid off immensely.
The Molded are the result of organic material --namely people-- becoming infected and controlled by a fungus, which is in turn controlled by the antagonist of the game, Eveline. These lumbering masses of mold are fearsome monsters to face and that first encounter with one --which came spilling out of the wall-- was memorable in all the wrong ways.
7 The Volatiles (Dying Light)
As bad as the standard zombies become when night falls, the most horrifying aspect of the night is the unleashing of the Volatiles. These zombies are the perfect predators when it comes to stalking parkour enthusiasts, given their agility, speed, and strength.
With mandible-like jaws, ribs jutting out like spikes and horrific screeches, it's understandable that the player would want to run from these monsters rather than face them in battle. Even towards the end of the game, when the player is at a high level with lots of powerful weapons and supplies, these zombies still pose a major threat and running remains a solid strategy for dealing with them.
6 The Iron Maiden (Resident Evil 4)
The Resident Evil series is no stranger to experimenting with different zombie types, but Resident Evil 4 introduced a particularly memorable horror called the Iron Maiden. Iron Maidens are an advanced form of Regenerator, meaning they can absorb a ton of damage and are capable of regenerating limbs. These zombies have hidden weak points in their bodies, but sadly the brain isn’t one of them.
With massive spikes, devastating attacks and that awful breathing noise they make, these zombies are a nightmare to go up against. Even with an infrared scope, they aren’t easy to bring down. Odds are the player (and that annoying Ashley) died many, many times against these creatures.
5 The Hunter (Dead Space)
Similar to the Iron Maiden in Resident Evil 4, The Hunter in Dead Space had regenerative abilities that made it a fearsome adversary. Unlike the Iron Maiden, it had no weak points and would simply keep regenerating any and all damage directed at it, being impossible to kill.
Sure, the resourceful Isaac Clarke figured out how to freeze it (and eventually managed to kill it with a ship’s powerful engines), but those first few moments running from an invincible enemy were really scary. The player’s only hope was to shoot its limbs off and make a run for it while it grew them back.
4 The Witch (Left 4 Dead)
The shooter genre will always be a popular one. There's just something immensely satisfying about hunting down your enemies with high-powered guns. Left 4 Dead delivered on that simple need by providing hordes of zombies for the player to gun down in a ruthless fashion. However, there was one zombie type that intimidated players so much they bypassed her altogether and prayed she didn’t hear anything.
The Witch is a fearsome zombie who sobs alone in the dark until she’s startled by a player. When alerted, she goes into a mad frenzy, charging the player down relentlessly until she's killed (or you are). Players can quickly defeat her with a series of shotgun blasts to the back of the head before she attacks, but if you're not successful, you're in for a tough time.
3 The Twitcher (Dead Space)
For being one of the worst enemies to face (and downright creepy to look at), these zombies easily make the top three.
In Dead Space, zombies are aliens running around inside dead bodies, infected by a virus/bacteria that mutates them violently and in grotesque ways. The particular type of zombie created by this process is often determined by the condition of the host.
Twitchers are what happens when a zombie is created in a host that possesses a Stasis Module, making them fast enough to dodge slower gunfire. With blade-like swords bursting from their arms, pale skin and cracked skulls, these things are nightmare-inducing, charging the player at super speed. Watching them twitch around while they search for prey is perhaps even worse than being attacked.
2 Fast Zombies (Half-Life 2)
Half-Life 2 is something of a masterpiece, and many fans are still upset that it’s been 12 years without news on a follow-up. One of the best parts of this game was how it handled zombies.
There’s one particular zombie that was an absolute nope, when first encountered in that apocalyptic hellhole called Ravenholm. No, it’s not the standard headcrab zombies (although their wailing cries are basically nightmare fuel regardless of whether their audio files are played backward or forward), it’s the simply named Fast Zombies.
Even 12 years later, players still shudder remembering these horrible creatures stomping across rooftops, wailing horribly amid the clanking of drainpipes. Not even the recently-acquired shotgun could comfort players standing alone on those rooftops all those years ago.
1 Clickers (The Last of Us)
Yep, we've saved the best for last: the Clickers from The Last of Us are perhaps the creepiest zombies in any video game.
These infected humans have been completely hijacked by the fungus, which has grown over their faces and much of their body. Without eyes and other basic senses, they rely on echolocation to stalk their prey, using the clicks to home in on the enemy.
While many other zombies on this list are horrific and undoubtedly more powerful, Clickers are hands down the most frightening, because the player often has to use stealth to bypass them (and the sounds they make are very disturbing). The only thing worse than listening to their clicks in the darkness is sneaking through the middle of a group and hearing one screech when it detects you.