10 Games Where You Play as the Monster
Video games often portray their main character as a noble person with a mission that is either fundamentally good or, at the least, morally neutral. It’s natural to see why this choice is popular - in the stories we tell ourselves, no matter whether they’re portrayed through movies, books, video games, or any other medium, it’s most satisfying to arrive at the end feeling that the character made a positive impact, that the monsters have been defeated. In video games, a medium in which the player actively controls the protagonist, this noble story arc is even more present.
However, some games flip this narrative on its head by featuring a storyline where one plays as the monster or the villain of the story. What it means to be a villain is different for each game, but for all of the games on this list, the narrative flip makes for fresh and engaging gameplay. Check out this list of the top 10 games where you can play as the monster!
10 Games Where You Play as the Monster
1. Dead by Daylight
Dead by Daylight, developed by Canadian studio Behaviour Interactive, is a multiplayer horror game where one Killer is set against four Survivors. In short, the Survivors must avoid being caught and killed by the Killer who wants to sacrifice lives to satisfy a dark force. In order to get out alive, the Survivors must team up and cooperate to fix five power generators. What’s special about this game is how it offers the player the chance to switch between roles as the villain and the victim. It also allows players to choose between a variety of famous “Killers,” such as Freddy Kruger, Michael Myers, and Ghost Face from the Scream franchise.
2. Rampage World Tour
Rampage World Tour is an arcade-game favorite you might remember from back in the day. The three infamous main monsters, Lizzie (Giant reptile), George (Giant Gorilla), and Ralph (Giant werwolf), have just escaped from an explosion at the Scumlabs factory and are out to wreak havoc. Your goal is to destroy buildings in each city while protecting yourself against attacks from police forces. Speed is of the essence in this monster game, as if you take too long, jets will arrive to bomb the buildings you haven’t destroyed yet, lowering your score. The arcade version supports up to three players, allowing for maximum damage, but some consoles only allow a maximum of two players.
3. Bioshock 2
Bioshock 2 is a first-person shooter game in which the protagonist, a prototype Big Daddy known as Subject Delta, must navigate the decaying underwater city of Rapture, combating infected Splicers to find a Little Sister named Eleanor to whom the hero is bonded. Among your tools are weapons, genetic modifications, and even interaction with the environment: an Electro Bolt plasmid, for example, can electrocute any scary monster standing in a puddle. As you pursue your monster protagonist fantasy, you can improve your weapons and destructive power by skillfully using different types of ammunition and leveling up.
Though shark attacks may not be as common in real life as cinema would have you think, the mere concept has frightened and delighted audiences throughout time. In Maneater, one of the most conceptually unique games where you play as the monster, you’re a female bull shark getting revenge on Scaly Pete for killing your mother and your newborn pup. Gameplay is predictably repetitive, the goal almost exclusively being to maim and consume humans. It’s a game that delivers exactly what it promises and nothing more.
5. Destroy All Humans!
Destroy All Humans!, the 2020 remake of the 2005 game of the same name, is an alien game played from a third-person perspective. The player controls the main alien, Cryptosporidium 137, as he endeavors to harvest human DNA in 1950s America. Crypto has a variety of tools available to conquer enemies, including weapons like the Zap-O-Matic, telekinetic powers, and a flying saucer equipped with a Death Ray.
Vampyr, a vampire game set in London, features Jonathan Reid, a doctor suddenly turned into a vampire. The game leaves a lot of moral quandaries up to the player, allowing players to finish the game with minimal combat if they choose. If you do choose to kill citizens to satisfy your cravings, you’ll have weapons and supernatural abilities at your disposal.
7. Prototype 2
Prototype 2 is the sequel to Prototype, a game that has been described as “the best-selling open-world action game of 2009.” You play as Sergeant James Heller, a soldier left to fend for himself in the perilous streets of New York Zero after his wife and child die from the Blacklight virus. You’ll harness biological weapons and develop your abilities on your way to your final goal, getting revenge on Alex Mercer by taking his life.
8. Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel Without a Pulse
This game with a somewhat unwieldy name is classified as “reverse horror,” a genre in which the focus is on scaring others rather than being scared. As Stubbs the Zombie, your goal is to eat as many human brains as possible. Eating a person’s brain increases your health points and also converts that person into a zombie who will then fight on your side. The game is stylized in a “retro-futuristic” fashion, featuring flying saucers, monorails, and other technological advancements that people in the 1950s thought of when they envisioned the future.
9. Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood
Werewolf: The Apocalypse - Earthblood is probably the darkest game on this list, which says a lot given that all of these games allow you to play as the villain. Set in the American Northwest, the game is a single-person RPG where the player takes on the role of an eco-terrorist werewolf. You’ll complete your missions throughout various different “hub worlds.” Penumbra, another place heavily featured, is a realm lying between the physical world and the spiritual world where you can complete side quests or challenges in exchange for rewards.
10. Baldur's Gate 3 (The Dark Urge Origin)
Baldur's Gate 3 is the third in a series of video games based on the Dungeons and Dragons franchise. At the beginning of the game, players are presented with a choice to either create a custom character or select from one of the Origin characters. The Dark Urge stands out as it is a fully customizable Origin character with a unique storyline. This character has lost all memory but is consumed by a powerful desire to kill, as the name suggests. Players eventually discover that they are Bhaalspawn, offspring of the god Bhaal, the Lord of Murder. The game's plot thickens with the revelation that the player is related to the antagonist, Orin the Red, and was once the leader of the Bhaalist Cult. Additionally, if the hero fulfills certain acts of evil, they can be granted the ability to turn into a monster called the Slayer. Through each opportunity the game presents you with, you’ll make an ultimate choice between using your powers for good or turning over to evil.
As you can see, each of these games is different. Some of them allow the player to choose between good and evil, while others fully embrace the villainy inherent in the plot. No matter their angle, these games all think outside of the box by flipping the positive story arc trope on its head and allowing players to experience the game from the viewpoint of the monster.
Matthew is a freelance content writer whose work has previously appeared in well-known language-learning blog Fluent in 3 Months and The Happy Self-Publisher. His creative work has also appeared in Otoliths, CafeLit, and the Eunoia Review. He is currently based in Taipei, Taiwan, where he is studying for a master's degree in Chinese Literature.