Necessary evils of the creepiest nature.
From moustache-twirling pantomime baddies to deeper, more tortured villains, indie games showcase some seriously creepy antagonists. As huge fans of indie games and the amazing stories they tell, we decided to take a closer look at seven of the creepiest indie villains. Sometimes it’s good to be bad!
7. The Shape – The Blackout Club
It’s the villains you never see coming that terrify the most, and The Blackout Club’s ‘The Shape’ is as covert as they come – after all, you can only see it when you close your eyes! The Blackout Club follows a group of teenagers as they investigate the sinister goings-on in their hometown of Redacre. Unluckily for the plucky teens, every interaction with enemies in Redacre will accumulate Sins. Amass enough Sins and The Shape will be awoken.
A blurry, featureless humanoid figure, The Shape will mercilessly follow you around Redacre, never relenting until it catches up with you. Should The Shape manage to snare you in the creepiest fashion possible, you’ll become possessed, unable to regain control of your body without the help of your co-op teammates.
6. The Lady – Little Nightmares
Little Nightmares was one of 2017’s best indie games, renowned for its twisted narrative and eerie soundtrack. The game focused on Six, a young girl dressed in a yellow raincoat attempting to escape the Maw, a giant boat filled with dark secrets. Presiding over of the Maw is The Lady, a mysterious woman who is seemingly happy to invite a small army of monstrous guests aboard her ship to eat themselves into a stupor. And Six is on the menu.
The creepiest thing about The Lady is that her motives remain unclear, and the origins of her powers and authority are an even bigger unknown. Deathly quiet and curiously graceful, The Lady is a villain who is seemingly as scared of herself and her own reflection as you are. Here’s hoping we learn more in the upcoming sequel, Little Nightmares 2.
5. The Monster – Sea of Solitude
Sea of Solitude explores the effects of loneliness and isolation and how these feelings can alter people. Key to this premise is The Monster, a giant serpentine beast who patrols the seas, watching and waiting for our protagonist Kay to make one mistake and fall into the water. Once submerged, Kay must make a mad dash to reach dry land before The Monster catches up with her. Should she be caught, a terrifying cutscene will play out in which Kay is thrown straight into the mouth of the beast.
But The Monster’s tyranny doesn’t end there. Constantly goading and belittling Kay, even when she’s clambering over the island-like rooftops of the submerged cities she explores, The Monster uses the power of words just as much as it does its terrifying teeth. It’s a novel take on the need to preserve mental as well as physical safety, and one embodied by a suitably eerie antagonist.
4. The Devil – Cuphead
After making a deal with the Devil that backfires (who’d have guessed!), Cuphead and Mugman attempt to claim back their souls. While the majority of Cuphead focuses on the bosses you’ll take down during the main campaign, the Devil is the ultimate objective. And that’s just as well because, despite his promise to free Cuphead and Mugman following the defeat of enough bosses, The Devil eventually goes back on his word. Never saw that coming.
With his classical, cartoon villain looks and devious nature, the Devil is pretty darn unnerving. Worst of all is his wicked smile, animated to terrifying effect by the clever bods over at StudioMDHR. Pearly whites have never been so scary!
3. Mr Pinstripe – Pinstripe
Ex-minister Ted finds himself in something of a predicament when he ends up in Hell after chasing after his lost daughter and the strange man who kidnapped her. Mr Pinstripe is this strange man, and everything about him is disturbing. Wearing a black pinstriped suit and devoid of any facial features beyond his glowing yellow eyes and mouth, Mr Pinstripe’s appearance alone is enough to send shivers down your spine. However, it’s the eerie voice acting by Dick Terhune that really sells the creepiness of this villain.
During the game, Mr Pinstripe is often hidden in the background, but his presence is felt through little touches to the environment, constantly reminding you that he’s close. Mr Pinstripe doesn’t need to be ever-present, because the very idea of him lurking somewhere nearby is horror enough.
2. Mr Peterson – Hello, Neighbor
Whilst Hello, Neighbor is not without its flaws, primary antagonist Mr Peterson is undeniably creepy. The game follows the story of a young boy attempting to uncover the secrets inside the grand house owned by Mr Peterson across the street. In an attempt to thwart him, Mr Peterson sneaks around his abode laying traps for the intruding boy, and locking him away should he capture him.
There’s a lot to be said for the way Hello, Neighbor builds tension, and when this culminates in the sudden appearance of Mr Peterson, with his slick moustache and giant gloved hands reaching for you, the game becomes a truly frightening experience with one of the creepiest characters at the helm.
1. Ink Bendy – Bendy and the Ink Machine
Deep in the abandoned Joey Drew Studios lurks a monster. Brought to life by the mysterious Ink Machine, Ink Bendy wanders the studio halls as a distorted version of the jaunty studio mascot, Bendy. Ink Bendy is fuelled by a desire to kill the protagonist Henry, and in almost every chapter you’ll need to run from this cartoon abomination as he chases you down.
The scariest thing about this villain as that he so closely resembles Bendy, the beloved and joyous studio mascot. But his broad smile, which is so charming on Bendy, is somehow jarring and sinister on Ink Bendy. The ink dripping down his dead eyes is the demonic icing on the cake.
So, did we miss any? Don’t be afraid to let us know who your creepiest indie game adversary is! If you prefer something with a bit more pace and a bit less peeking around corners, check out our Top Indie Games to Speedrun article.
Rebecca Stow is a freelance games journalist with a passion for all things indie. If there’s a story-driven indie game on the horizon, chances are Rebecca will be playing it and probably writing about it!