For those who haven’t heard the news, it appears that the beloved Dark Souls series will be coming to an end with Dark Souls 3. Although it can be tough to offer a retrospective for a series that’s latest game only came out one week ago, the notion of not being horrifically dismembered by roaming bands of skeletons has left us here at Game Rant a little misty-eyed and reflective.
There’s a reason that Dark Souls 3 is breaking sales records, and what better way to commemorate one of the most refreshing and successful series in recent memory than with a list of all the enemies that made us throw our controllers on the ground and flee the couch in shock or horror?
Without further adieu, here is Game Rant’s list of the Top 10 Scariest Dark Souls enemies. Keep in mind that some of these enemies will be spoilers for various Dark Souls titles, so gamers who haven’t finished a certain installment in the series and intend to might want to steer clear.
10. Ice Stallion
The Ice Stallion is an undead horse that seeps black smoke out of its every orifice as it barrels down on unsuspecting adventurers in the Frigid Outskirts of Dark Souls 2. If that description isn’t enough to convince players it’s a demonic nightmare on blue and black legs, the most terrifying thing about them is that they appear almost out of nowhere.
Players wandering through the blizzard in the Frigid Outskirts have restricted vision, and can hear the galloping and heavy breathing of the Ice Stallion somewhere in the whiteout before it charges in and stuns players who get trampled by it. Everyone’s first encounter with an Ice Stallion is certainly a memorable experience.
9. Dragon Slayer Ornstein and Executioner Smough
Dragon Slayer Ornstein and Executioner Smough are a pair of bosses that are introduced to players in Dark Souls, as they guard Gwynevere in Anor Londo. These bosses reside in an immense, empty cathedral that is eerie in its own right before players even lay eyes on the gargantuan Smough and the intimidating, reptilian Ornstein. Suitably epic and almost religious music plays as the boss fight occurs, and Ornstein and Smough are one of the hardest fights in the entire Souls series, so the battle is tense, punishing, and soul-crushing in player defeat.
Ornstein and Smough are one of the most frequent examples people use in arguing that Dark Souls should have an easier option, and they’ve contributed to a number of recurring nightmares for fans of the Souls series.
8. Pontiff Sulyvahn
Pontiff Sulyvahn isn’t grotesque, like many of the enemies that appear on this list. Rather, Sulyvah is frightening because at first glance he looks like a giant medieval knight wielding two lightsabers, and in practice, the Dark Souls 3 boss fight isn’t much easier than that first impression would indicate. Sulyvahn is an example of how the Dark Souls series has trained gamers to dread not just the disgusting, but the obviously difficult as well.
7. Rupturing Hollow
Rupturing Hollows are undead enemies encountered in Dark Souls 2 that look like rotting mummies missing entire chunks of their body. The only thing visible on their face is their gaping, bloody mouths, and they are often located in groups where they take turns throwing themselves at players with a devastating body flop attack that can end good playthrough instantly if they’re chained together. Did we mention they make weird, guttural screams before piling onto a player?
6. Undead Aberration
Undead Aberrations are gross monstrosities found in the dark water of the Sinner’s Rise in Dark Souls 2, and have warped faces that match their uneven, hulking bodies. They’re slow, but they hit exceptionally hard and they are a nightmare to fight in water, which is inevitably how many first-time Dark Souls 2 players try to fight them for several attempts before realizing there’s an easier way. Stumbling across one of these monsters in the dark is certainly not a fun experience, in any case.
5. Gaping Dragon
Ah, yes, the Gaping Dragon. Here’s how Dark Souls describes it: the Gaping Dragon was once a normal dragon before its eternal, insatiable hunger transformed its entire upper body into one giant mouth. But that mouth isn’t just any mouth; it’s a giant maw lined with razor-sharp teeth that is simply disgusting to look at. Fighting this optional boss is also an ordeal, so gamers are pretty much forced to stare at it over and over again, as if dying wasn’t enough punishment.
4. The Prisoner Horde
Okay, so we’re cheating a little on this one, since it’s from Demon’s Souls, but that game is basically the prequel to the Dark Souls series and should ultimately be considered part of the franchise despite the slightly different name. The Prisoner Horde is a giant spherical mass of what at first glance appears to be dead bodies but is, in fact, writhing, living humans somehow warped and massed together into a huge ball of pain and horror.
The Prisoner Horde is also completely avoidable in the two instances gamers encounter it, which we wish we would’ve known prior to spending a few sleepless nights contemplating how such a thing came into being in the first place.
3. Highlord Wolnir
Highlord Wolnir is another boss from Dark Souls 3, a game that clearly put a lot of time into designing its bosses to be both memorable and terrifying. Wolnir is a colossal skeleton king that happens to live in total darkness, so the first time players run into him will be as they stumble through a dark area with naught but a torch in hand and suddenly come face to face with a chittering skull twice the size of their entire body. As if that’s not enough, players then have to battle the Highlord, who literally wields darkness as a weapon. After the series’ heavy reliance on giant skeletons, who would’ve expected From Software could still make one terrifying in Dark Souls‘ last entry?
2. The Four Kings
The Four Kings aren’t the traditional kind of Souls scary. In fact, just looking at a picture of them is more likely to inspire an appreciation for Dark Souls character design rather than fear in the hearts of gamers everywhere. That’s before actually fighting the Four Kings, however, who slither and slide out of the darkness towards players in a way that is, frankly, unnatural and unnerving. It’s odd that a character’s movement pattern be so memorable and concerning at the same time, so for that reason, the Four Kings appears high on our list.
Veterans of the Souls series knew what number one on this list would be without even needing a moment to think about it – the Mimic represents a special kind of initiation for gamers who decide to descend into From Software‘s particular brand of madness, and everyone has a story about their first encounter with a Mimic.
The unassuming treasure chest monsters that are staples of the RPG world take on a more sinister form in Dark Souls, as first-time players will sprint to the chest hoping to find a new weapon to make fights easier and instead be grabbed by a demon that then eats them whole. Not only is the Mimic’s design downright creepy, the startling way it is introduced to new players can be enough for many to simply call it a night and return to the game some other day, preferably during the afternoon while the sun is shining.
Dark Souls 3 is out now for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.