After decades of dodgy licensed games, some of horror’s biggest icons have finally gotten their due in recent years. Mostly, it’s been all about the cameos in games such as Dead by Daylight and Mortal Kombat, but other major horror movie franchises — Evil Dead and Texas Chain Saw Massacre among them — have taken a claret-spurting stab at their own games, chiefly in the asymmetrical multiplayer genre.
It’s great to be able to slice and dice as characters like Leatherface and Jason Voorhees, but there’s still loads of untapped potential for other horror legends to make their way from the silver screen to video games. With that in mind, here’s our list of 10 horror icons who deserve their own game, along with a few ideas for how each one might play.
The eloquently spoken Hell Priest is one of the most recognizable slasher icons of all time, but his track record in the medium of gaming has been tenuous at best.
After years of aborted attempts at a licensed Hellraiser game, Pinhead finally made his videogame debut in 2021 as a guest killer in Dead by Daylight. This appearance was a pretty toothless rendition of the character, but it’s hard to imagine any game being willing to translate the full extent of the franchise’s sadomasochistic flesh-ripping.
And yet, creator Clive Barker has had some success in the medium, having been the creative mind behind two FPS games in the 2000s — Undying and Jericho. Both were suitably creepy and gore-filled on the aesthetic front, albeit with some clear flaws in the gameplay department.
With this in mind, a videogame adaptation may be better off looking toward the sequel Hellbound: Hellraiser II and that film’s depiction of Hell for inspiration. With its labyrinthine architecture and potential for further Cenobite appearances, this could make a great setting for a gore-laden roguelike dungeon-crawler.
Although mere mortals who have stumbled into Hell don’t stand much of a chance against Pinhead and co, there’s always the potential that by solving the puzzle box they can free themselves from the demon’s grasp. Rather than play as a victim, being able to play as a Cenobite against the clock of the puzzle being solved would be a great way to impose some limit on an otherwise overpowered being.
Each time the puzzle is inevitably solved Leviathan would rebirth your Cenobite to rend more flesh, becoming more mutilated, but also more powerful as the game progressed.
Freddy Krueger (A Nightmare on Elm Street)
The original nightmare demon, Freddy Krueger’s burnt face and bladed glove has been menacing the teenagers of Elm Street since 1984 both in films and video games.
Following disappointing NES, Commodore 64, and DOS games that did little to evoke the horror of the films, Freddy made his playable debut in the gaming medium as a guest character in Mortal Kombat (2011), and then in Dead by Daylight. Sadly, this was the version of the character from the forgettable 2010 reboot, which — no offense to Jackie Earl Haley’s performance — just isn’t what fans of the franchise wanted.
Fortunately, the time may finally be here for a proper title starring this horror icon. One of the Nightmare on Elm Street series’ scariest elements is that you’re never quite sure when a character has slipped into the dream world, and with modern SSDs providing seamless transitions between different environments, this could become the perfect central mechanic for a great survival horror experience.
It would be interesting to see how game developers could utilize this to keep players uncertain of when or where Freddy might attack next, and he could recapture the terror he elicited in the earlier films.
Chucky (Child’s Play)
There’s something about children’s dolls coming to life that just seems to creep people out. Despite this, Chucky hasn’t quite made the leap to video games just yet, horror or otherwise.
Other than an endless runner mobile game, the only attempt to bring the killer doll to video games was the canceled stealth action game Chucky: Wanna Play. Given his cult popularity, it’s surprising that he hasn’t made his way into either Dead by Daylight or Mortal Kombat as a cameo character, but that’s the case.
What’s worse is that the diminutive slasher could lend himself so well to a fun and schlocky gaming experience. Chucky is knowingly B-movie fodder, and the tepid 2019 attempt at rebooting Child’s Play as a more strait-laced horror franchise only proved that he works best when he’s making us laugh as well as wince.
With that in mind, there’s no need to overcomplicate Chucky’s first video game. Just let us take control of the pint-sized terror and unleash us on a decent variety of levels in an old school licensed 3D platformer. Heck, you could even turn out a simple trap-based title where you set up creatively devious ways for his victims to die.
Forget killer dolls; it’s killer clowns where terror truly collides with childlike fun.
Stephen King’s ancient entity whose preferred form is that of Pennywise the Clown is nightmare fuel of the highest order. And yet, besides a lousy VR experience, Pennywise hasn’t appeared in any video games to date. Granted, there haven’t been a ton of clowns that have appeared in horror games outside of Dead by Daylight’s own Jeffrey Hawk, aka The Clown.
The blockbuster success of the two recent It films starring Bill Skarsgård in the villainous role makes it even more surprising that the character hasn’t made at least a cameo appearance in a game. With such a rich mythology — and the overall plot of a group of teenagers teaming up to take the evil God-like entity down — this horror franchise might be one that could make a very different kind of RPG.
Sure it might mean taking a few liberties with Stephen King’s plot, but there’s still plenty of opportunity to hit all the major character arcs that each teen, and later adult, takes as they find what’s inside of them to defeat It. Pennywise takes many forms throughout the book so this lends itself to successive boss battles.
Naturally video games need more disposable enemies than a movie or book, but it’s easy enough to imagine the trick-playing Pennywise being able to conjure up enough obstacles to keep your party grinding away.
Final Fantasy 16 has recently proven that time skips in RPGS can work, and going a similar route with an It RPG would surely emphasize the story’s epic nature.
Michael Myers (Halloween)
Perhaps the most iconic slasher villain of them all, Michael Myers has been silently stalking the residents of Haddonfield for decades. He’s masked, invincible, and carrying a giant kitchen knife — all the right ingredients for a terrifying video game character whether you’re playing as him or against him.
Halloween for the Atari 2600 didn’t really do much to bring the terror of the character to the world of video games, and it wasn’t until 2014 that Michael Myers got brought to life proper in, believe it or not, Call of Duty: Ghosts. Rather than his iconic kitchen knife, CoD Myers carries an axe for some reason. Thankfully, the character got a more faithful rendition when he was added to Dead by Daylight in 2016, and his character translated rather smoothly into the game’s mechanics.
Come on though; the very first time we meet the character in the original Halloween, it’s through his own eyes. As such, a first-person slasher where you play as Michael Myers himself is so obvious that it’s criminal it hasn’t already been done.
The Universal Monsters
Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster (and his bride), the Invisible Man, and The Creature from the Black Lagoon; Just some of the monsters that helped to bring horror to the masses throughout the early part of the twentieth century. They might not be quiet so scary today, but such a fun and varied group of monsters needn’t be consigned to history.
Sure, there have been numerous games based on individual characters over the years, but they rarely appear together. A hack and slash game based on the 2004 Hugh Jackman vehicle Van Helsing gave players the opportunity to do battle with that film’s rather bland take on the characters, but it lacked real substance. There was also Universal Monsters Online which attempted to capitalize on the MOBA boom of the early 2010s, but the gameplay didn’t hold up and it was shuttered shortly after.
With so many characters all with their own unique powers, the Universal Monsters would make for a great fighting game roster. They’re all suitably family-friendly, so why not put them together in a Smash-like arena fighter? Better still, think of all the amazing stages that could be made, from Dracula’s castle to the crypts of Egypt or Dr Frankenstein’s laboratory.
Sadako (The Ring)
Sadako, the creepy long-haired spirit who crawls her way out of TV sets and into your living room, is truly spine-chilling. Thankfully, she only attacks those who watch a mysterious videotape, giving the viewer seven days before they’re killed.
Cursed technology and a seven-day time limit sound like the perfect set-up for a video game, but it’s not one that’s been exploited yet. A 2000 Dreamcast game attempted to clumsily turn the franchise into a survival horror, but Resident Evil it wasn’t. The closest the series has come to an adaptation was a Sadako cameo in Dead by Daylight, with an interesting mechanic that allows her to teleport around the map using televisions.
Given her affinity for messing about with victims through media, an FMV game that puts you in the role of someone having seven days to unravel the mystery before they’re killed could work great. There’s obvious potential for some kind of meta element to be incorporated here, and you could imagine someone like Her Story and Immortality maestro Sam Barlow being able to put a very interesting spin on things.
Bob (Twin Peaks)
David Lynch’s dreamlike worlds are some of the most memorable — and frightening — in cinema.
His juxtaposition of the nightmarish with Americana coziness has been a reference point for countless video games. But despite having worked across multiple mediums, including film, TV, music, and art, Lynch himself has never turned his hand to video games outside of one abandoned idea called Woodcutters from Fiery Ships.
I’m not sure how I’d feel about a Twin Peaks game without either Lynch or co-creator Mark Frost collaborating in some way. Having said that though, an open-world L.A. Noire-style detective game that lets us solve some of the town’s mysteries and visit all the iconic locations from the TV show would be incredible.
Like L.A. Noire, combat wouldn’t be an integral part of a Twin Peaks game (if it was needed at all). Instead, as the game’s antagonist, Bob and the other lodge spirits would be the ones driving the narrative forward. With the clock ticking before they kill again, it would be up to you to put your FBI skills to the test and figure where he will strike next.
It doesn’t seem possible that a cultural icon like the Ghostface killer from the Scream movies has never had their own video game, but it’s true.
To date, Ghostface has appeared in Call of Duty Cold War and Warzone, Dead by Daylight, and Among Us. He’s also one of multiple characters that series creator Ed Boon has recently teased as a potential addition to the Mortal Kombat 1 roster (including several other characters on this list like Pinhead, Michael Myers, and Chucky).
Despite having already been added as a killer in Dead by Daylight, the Scream franchise seems like it would be the perfect fit for an asymmetrical multiplayer game of its own. Being a metatextual take on the slasher movie, it would be interesting to see what ways a Scream game could subvert this subgenre that’s already starting to feel a little bit formulaic.
Plus, with new characters constantly taking on the masked persona, there’s a multitude of angles that could be taken with who the killer is.
There just aren’t enough Christmas games, but the Gremlins could be the perfect monsters to take us through the winter season.
Besides NES, Atari and Commodore games featuring the fuzzy critters you shouldn’t feed after midnight, the only time the Gremlins have had a starring role in a video game is the Game Boy Color platformer Gremlins: Unleashed. More recently, they’ve appeared in Lego Dimensions and MultiVersus, but still haven’t played a starring role in anything.
If they were to get their own title now, what better game for the holiday season than a party game? Taking the Fall Guys and Party Animals template and making it that little less cutesy could be a recipe for success. Imagine if you could also design your own Mogwai to take into both online and couch co-op play. It may not be the scariest time, but it’d surely be a chaotic one.
There you have it, 10 horror icons who deserve their own game. Do you have any horror movie favorites you’d like to play as — or against — in a video game? Let us know your nightmare game ideas down in the comments section.
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