Scariest bosses: Piggsy from Manhunt
Note: This article concerns a disturbing boss from a game aimed at mature audiences. Reader discretion is advised.
Manhunt is one of those games that I can't help but revisit every few years. Though certain aspects of it haven't aged all that well—those graphics look pretty rough on an HD set—it's still unlike anything else that's come before or after it. Even its ill-fated sequel, Manhunt 2, which wasn't nearly as good yet still had an alluring draw to it, is in a different class of video game. At the time of its release the first Manhunt drew endless criticism, with detractors calling it a “murder simulator.”
When most people look back at Manhunt, the things they remember about it most are the slasher-like stealth gameplay, the gory executions, gruesome violence, and the crazed controversy. I think about all of those things when I reminisce about being 17 and playing that game for the first time, too. But there's something else I also remember vividly. Quite possibly the most disturbing boss ever to appear in a video game: Piggsy.
Piggsy is a weird combination of terrors. He's a massive man who wears a bloody, rotting pig's face over his own—think Leatherface, but a bizarre farm animal version. Like Leatherface, he also brandishes a chainsaw and chases you around his smelly lair. Oh, and he's totally naked. For some reason, those PlayStation 2 and Xbox graphics make him look even more hideous and grotesque than if he were rendered more realistically on today's hardware.
Most disturbing of all is the fact that you can see...everything. Well, thankfully it's just a silhouette, but that's just as disgusting because Piggsy is absolutely terrible. I know that the human body is a beautiful thing and people come in all different shapes and sizes and blah, blah, blah. No! Not Piggsy! That sort of positive thinking simply does not apply to this abomination. The fact that he's naked, covered in blood and feces, and swinging both a chainsaw and his personal bits in your direction makes him a particularly vile, repulsive adversary.
As if his appearance wasn't bad enough, he also squeals like a pig every time you sneak up behind him and stab him with a glass shard. In between grunts and squeals, he also blurts out phrases like “Piggsy's angry,” and “This Piggsy's home.” That this monstrous individual only has a basic grasp of the English language is unsettling in and of itself, as it clearly indicates a sort of devolution or degraded mental state (perhaps as a result of so much cold-blooded murder).
Yes, it's creepy as hell.
Creating a Hellish Atmosphere
Though Piggsy's physical appearance alone is shocking enough, the stage where you battle him, in his attic-turned-home, is really twisted too, and it creates a nightmarish atmosphere. The dark, dilapidated attic is like a maze, with large cracks in walls acting as makeshift doors. You can see traces of the cannibalistic Piggsy's victims in the form of blood trails, unrecognizable body parts, and rotting internal organs.
Also horrid is Piggsy's bed: a queen size mattress placed on the floor and covered in brown stains. The less said about that the better. Ugh.
Upping the creep factor of Piggsy's humble abode is the actual backstory that vaguely explains why he lives in an attic. Apparently he was once a star of antagonist Lionel Starkweather's snuff films. At some point, Starkweather had Piggsy locked away and chained in his attic, where his personal mercenaries, the Cerberus, were in charge of feeding the deranged man-beast. That's all that's officially known about Piggsy, and honestly it's all we really need to know.
Pig Versus Man
The actual battle between the sick Piggsy and protagonist James Earl Cash (who himself is a murderer) is a tense ordeal. It basically consists of both men stalking each other in the dark attic in an attempt to murder one another. At first you don't know exactly where Piggsy is because he doesn't show up on your map. After you search the lair for a bit though, he pops out from behind a wall and begins chasing you, revving up his chainsaw the entire time.
If The Texas Chainsaw Massacre has taught us anything it's that a big, burly dude chasing you while his chainsaw roars is absolutely terrifying. Seeing Piggsy immediately prompts you to run and hide so you can eventually sneak up on him. There's something unnerving about turning to run and hearing Piggsy chase you as his chainsaw buzzes away. And even when you've successfully hidden from him, knowing that he might be around the corner ready to demolish and devour your body is definitely scary.
The boss battle with Piggsy is, at least for me, one of the most memorable in all video games. No, it's not epic like when Link battles Ganon at the very end of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. It's certainly not as amazing as that first time that Mario meets a polygonal 3D Bowser in Super Mario 64. And it's nowhere near as outrageous as the end battle from Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. But it's sickening, foul, and disturbing, and it's unlike any other boss battle in any other video game.
Watch the fight with Piggsy and the ending of Manhunt below if you dare, but exercise caution because, as discussed, it's thoroughly unpleasant and disturbing.