Written by Jonathan Wojcik
The Unused Bioshock Monsters
Though I've never played the "Bioshock" titles myself, I know more than enough about them through the magic of the internet, and it's likely a lot of you do whether you've also played them or not. Set in a dismally failed underwater city, the games are best known for the wildly iconic Big Daddies,
armored mutants who serve as bodyguards to weird, psychic little girls, and more or less the only "monsters" present. It's a "less is more" angle I can definitely respect, offering something quite a bit different and more imaginative than the usual mutant-ridden survival-horror games and sci-fi shooters...but the game began its conceptual existence as precisely that, a horror title teeming with creeps ranging from giant maggots with guns to melting jellyfish people.
While this version of Bioshock would have probably gone down as little more than an "underwater Resident Evil," the known creature designs conceived for the series were definitely interesting, and while they've been public for a good few years now, it feels like high time somebody really
sat down and discussed their best qualities.
Few of these have known names, so we're going to improvise some of them. This particular mutant insect is said to have been the sample art that actually sold the game to developers in the first place,
so it's especially a shame nothing more came of this design. The irregular way the insect protrudes from the human body, like an incomplete molt, would have looked fantastic rendered in 3-d, and from the way it continues holding a gun, we can surmise that it's still an intelligent being, too. Maybe it still has traces of the person it once was?
Crab O' War
This is a very interesting being. Only its ghastly, degenerated head tips us off that it was ever human. The rest gives the impression of some sort of arthropod, and even has one pincer-like claw arm, but the overall shape is closer to that of a jellyfish. It looks like it would float around the same way, dangling its long limbs to ensnare prey.
This simple humanoid mutant looks like common, weaker enemy material; the basic "zombie" of its setting, but just unique enough that it might have been memorable, with its veiny, membranous skin, degenerated facial features, and midsection twisted completely around to facilitate its ground-hugging lifestyle. I also really like the strands of mucus between all its limbs and fingers, like it's all wrapped up in a thin web of slime.
An especially distorted beast, it's impossible to tell if this mutated from a human, an animal or some genetic chimera. The forelimbs are insectile, but the face is like a human twisted into some hyper-specialized, eyeless bat. It's definitely
something that navigates by sonar clicks, whatever it is. Had they stuck with the "monster outbreak" angle, I feel like this one might have quickly become a flagship monster to the series, as recognizable as the lickers
of Resident Evil.
Get it? Cause he's got a gun, but he's also shooting stuff into his veins! Haha! I'm clever! It's interesting that this one-armed druggie is armed with a shotgun, since it seems like a lot of effort went into mutating that single arm, but you don't really need any additional strength just to pull a trigger. Perhaps this guy was ultimately just way too similar to Resident Evil's Bandersnatch.
This one wouldn't stand out much if not for its three-limbed stance. It would be fairly cool to see a humanoid that runs around on its legs and one arm all the time, leaving another specialized arm free to wield as a weapon. Maybe those elongated fingers are venomous, or something?
One with an actual name we've seen, Jellyman is magnificently horrendous, the exposed veins and dangling curtains of flesh bringing too mind a corpse dunked completely into acid, but he doesn't seem like he's in any significant discomfort. He looks downright happy about his half-melted state, which is probably the scariest part of all. One can only imagine what the Jellyman might have been like in action. Capable of shifting in and out of a more liquid state? Able to change shape? Perhaps he would have turned out to be a jellyfish hybrid, armed with nematocysts embedded in his gooey skin?
The Face Eater
It just looks to me like something that would prefer eating faces more than anything else, you know? That right arm made entirely of spidery tenta-fingers looks pretty well suited to tearing them off. The lopsided face gives a strong crustacean-like impression, the whole thing really screaming "crab guy," but who knows how many genes are really swimming around in some of these fiends. The thick, externalized blue veins really bring the whole design together, too.
At a glance, this can seem like just some unremarkable zombie-like being with a tentacle arm, but the bubbling, melting flesh, dangling lips, wet locks of hair and veiny translucency are all just so
gorgeous, and it looks a lot like a more evolved Jellyman, doesn't it? Notice, also, how the tentacle appears to form from dozens of gelatinous fingers. That thing has got
to be packed with stinging cells.
The Hermit Slime
the idea of a hydra-like organism using an empty diving suit like a hermit crab's shell. It'd be damn creepy to be navigating underwater and come across a sort of diving suit graveyard, uncertain which ones just contain human corpses and which ones are going to erupt with deadly tentacles.
In a similar vein, this seems to be either a biohazard suit that failed utterly to protect its wearer, or just something wearing a biohazard suit as a flimsy disguise. We don't even know if the thing inside is actually humanoid at all, or just a mass of squiggling tendrils and flesh conforming to its shape!
Fundamentally the same concept we saw in the cockroach mutant, only this one is a lovely, bug-eyed maggot significantly larger than the remains of its inferior, human husk. I particularly like how the maggot's face subtly resembles a humanoid skull, and how instead of its own mouth, it has a cluster of tubes hooked up to the humanoid head, possibly still utilizing it for feeding!
You probably think we've already seen my favorite of the bunch, but oddly enough, I think I like Yam Hand here the best. It's not an outrageously inhuman design, but that cartoonishly warped hand is effectively disturbing, and we can see that there's something weird going on under that bag it wears over its face, too, with only one ominous eye hole and some sort of unknown cranial growth. I feel like that hand would do something really weird, like maybe it'd open up and there'd be some sort of biological weaponry concealed in the palm. If it were up to me, I'd stick an eyeball in there with a psionic gaze attack.
The Colin Fix Monsters
Surprisingly, Bioshock 2 almost returned to the monsterfest roots of the first game, but in the end, its narrow bestiary simply elaborated on the more "steampunk" style popularized by the Big Daddies. How long they really kicked around the reintroduction of more biological mutants, we don't know, nor do we know how many such designes were really toyed with before they were once again scrapped, but artist Colin Fix has shared a handful of unused idas on his own website, and they're pretty marvelous. This decrepit weirdo in an incongruously fancy mask is only a minor taste.
Bioshock 2 apparently almost introduced hybrid fish-people modified to survive in the deep ocean, this particular specimen incorporating a number of marine organisms at once, which are all seamlessly evident in the same cohesive design. I adore how the human skin gives way to a clear, gelatinous membrane, giving the impression of some sort of organic wetsuit at first glance.
This more menacing specimen expands on those motifs, with the bonus of being covered in huge leeches, perhaps more mutually beneficial than strictly parasitic?
The "aquatic splicer" here seems to have been the farthest Fix got before these aquatic creatures were written out of development, and it is terrifying.
The parasites dangling like hair are a fantastic touch, and the head, while looking somewhat alien, manages to capture everything eerie about the pale, little faces of porcelain dolls.
...But maybe you noticed the terms "walk head" and "swim head" here?
Fix's aquatic splicer would have been a reversible
monster. Double-ended, with two alternate faces for its two alternate methods of travel. Sucking in its little doll-face, its huge, webbed hands would have locked together like a cetacean tail, and an entirely different head would have bulged out of what we all thought was the thing's anus, and might still be,
for all we know. What a fantastic concept. The uncanny, surreal horror of this thing is just so lovingly conceived and beautifully executed, it's a crime against humanity
that this wasn't actually used, and will likely forever sit in some sort of copyright limbo, never to be seen in action. Somebody, please, pay this guy to work on a monster-filled horror game and actually go through with it.
I said earlier that I could understand the entirely different direction Bioshock finally went with. It pays to be different, and survival horror games full of rotten, slimy freaks are kind of a dime a dozen.
On the other hand,
Silent Hill has left a big, gaping hole in the genre for years now, Resident Evil has been hit-or-miss and there hasn't been a whole lot else to pick from. There's still more than enough room for more mutant-ridden horror adventures, and definitely still room for one set deep underwater - even considering the fact that Resident Evil itself has already delved into a nautical setting by now.
I just really want something with Colin Fix's butt fish monster in it. Please.
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