A horror game, like any other game, is only as good as its characters. If its goal is to bring the scares, a good horror game needs to provide monsters, ghosts, psychopaths, or any other kind of baddie that will leave a lasting imprint in our terrified souls. And if its goal is to engross the player within the experience, a good horror game would do well to provide an identifiable, interesting protagonist.
So, keeping that in mind, let us now take a look now at those most memorable of all horror game characters, and celebrate just why their games are so good at successfully inducing pants-wetting.
The freaky face of the F.E.A.R. franchise does the "creepy child" horror routine better than anyone else. A psychologically gifted but deeply troubled, murderous child, Alma's presence is felt throughout every moment of the series, even though it's never entirely clear if she's real or not. From her horrific dream sequences to her creepy changes in form—the grotesque end to the first F.E.A.R. comes to mind—everything about Alma exists to put players on edge.
The Resident Evil series has a litany of iconic heroes, but Leon S. Kennedy stands above them all by being the most identifiable of the group. He's certainly no macho man like fellow franchise stalwart Chris Redfield, but then again he doesn't need to be. He's likable, tough, and knows his way around a handgun, but still makes time to show a little humanity in the midst of all the horrors that often surround him. The zombie-fighting life is tough, after all. The fact that Resident Evil 2 and 4 are probably the best games of the bunch doesn't hurt either. If nothing else, he deserves props for putting up with Ashley Graham's incessant uselessness throughout the latter.
Poor Isaac Clarke just can't catch a break. An engineering prodigy originally sent on a routine maintenance mission, Isaac ends up being the sole survivor of a vicious alien attack. He is then forced to battle wave after wave of the deadly Necromorphs, who have a nasty habit of tearing human limbs from their bodies. Along the way, Isaac is battered, betrayed, and altogether scarred, both physically and mentally, by the entire experience. Oh, and he also finds out that his girlfriend killed herself. But despite it all, Isaac continues to carry on and survive, a trait befitting of any good hero.
Over the course of the Condemned franchise, Serial Crime Unit investigator Ethan Thomas goes from fairly average detective to angsty drunkard to supernatural warrior. Yeah, these games get a little weird as far as plot goes, but that doesn't stop Ethan from being one of the better horror heroes of this past generation. The Condemned series brings the scares, plain and simple, and Ethan's ability to withstand the horrors he sees earns him his stripes here.
Putting the most iconic villain from horror games' most iconic franchise is a no-brainer. The pesky Wesker is a tough fight in any of the multiple games in which he shows up, as his speed, strength, and endurance are on a level beyond that of any normal human being. To give you an idea of how tough ol' Alby is, just look at the ending of Resident Evil 5, where Chris Redfield and partner Sheva needed to shoot multiple RPG's at the guy. While he was bathing in a volcano. Yes, Wesker may finally be dead, but his legacy of being a stubborn pain in the rear will live on.