There can be no underestimating horror legend H.R. Giger's influence on cinema. His terrifyingly haunting visions can be seen in the darkest corners of film, including, of course, the Alien series for which he designed the iconic xenomorph and its facehugging, egg-bound pals.
But with an influence as wide reaching as Giger's, who would have turned 76 this year, you wouldn't be surprised to hear that the legend's idiosyncrasies can also be found scuttling around in the air vents of video games.
Numerous titles were touched by the icy grip of Giger's biomechinical body horror in subtle ways or other more standout examples of his devilish designs. Come with me now as I pay homage to one of pop culture's greatest visionaries.
Landscapes of Terror
The only game on this list to be directly influenced by the art of H.R. Giger, as in he worked on it, Dark Seed is, well, as dark as you can imagine a game coming out of the mind who dreamt up this image...
Proper beauty, right? Anyway I digress. Dark Seed is a point-and-click adventure which follows marketing executive Mike Dawson as he wakes from a terrible dream. In this dream, Mike was the unfortunate recipient of an alien embryo forcibly being inserted into his forehead after capture and imprisonment by a malevolent race of aliens.
What happens next is a tense, and tough, race against the clock to get the little bastard removed before it decides to vacate its penthouse apartment in a bloody mess. The game's designs are quintessential Giger, as in beautifully messed up. And its landscapes are some of the most offsetting to have been created since Aliens. In my own honest opinion, of course.
Easily one of the most obvious of hat tips on this list, what with there being a firey-facehugger spitting xenomorph in the game's 8th stage (if you made it that far), 'Alien's Lair' is one grizzly bastard filled with Giger's a-typical imagery.
And here's this wonderful NES game hailing from 1989. The Astynax's final mission takes place on an alien ship that bears heavy resemblance to The Derelict from Alien. The stage's big-bads are also pretty much xenomorph carbon copies whose arms extend to Dhalsim proportions as opposed to the little, slimy dudes that pop out of their mouths. Which is perfectly acceptable.
Body Horror & Sexuality
Giger’s influence even reached the shores of R-Type, the seminal side-scrolling, space shooter and its (possibly) lesser known sibling X-Multiply. Giger's customary meshing of biologically created organisms and the cold, hard steel of industry would be seen working together in perfect dissonant harmony. Look at this boss for example.
But R-Type wasn't the only space-faring game of the early 90s to be stroked by Giger's cold touch.
Many of Super Metroid's beasts and landscapes have been influenced by the nightmarish visions of Giger. Here are a couple of examples:
It seems no Metroidvania title would be without Giger influences, and Axiom Verge is absolutely no different.
Streets of Rage 2
On the flip side of body horror and bio-mechanical beings, Giger's work drew heavy influence from sexual union. The way these differing schools of creation would come to merge and be created would, naturally, be via sex. Look at cult sci-fi horror Species for which Giger created the sensual and terrifying alien Sil.
This union of sex and body horror can be seen in SoR2's house of horrors segment where a xenomorph-like creature would protrude from the wall and attack your hero. When defeated, the creature, with its long, phallus like neck, would explode in a fiery mess, leaving behind something which, knowing how Giger's art works, can only be described as fairly vaginal in design.
H.R. Giger died on May 12, 2014 and his influence will forever be felt and missed throughout pop culture.