Memory Card: the husks of Mass Effect

Stacey Henley recalls one of gaming's most uniquely terrifying enemies - the Husks of Mass Effect.

Stacey Henley
30th October 2019
Image: Flickr (Ryan Somma)
With its space opera overtones, brightly coloured palette and classic 'lone-hero-saves-the-world' storyline, Mass Effect doesn’t scream 'spooky'. Once you dig a little deeper into the enemies and their lore though, this trilogy becomes truly terrifying.

Controversial ‘pick A, Bor C’ ending aside, the original Mass Effect trilogy is a rich saga with well-developed foes and a constantly-twisting narrative. For example, Saren, the central antagonist of the first Mass Effect, is a brainwashed war hero, with the objective being less about defeating him and more about making him see the error of his ways. Mass Effect 1 is propped up by hoards of Husk enemies, which feature throughout the trilogy and form a definitive arc in Mass Effect 3.

Husks are often thought of as just ‘space zombies’, in itself quite a spooky concept, but they’re actually so much worse.

"...the notion of our bodies deleting themselves cell by cell and adding cybernetics in their place is a horrifying thought."

Typical zombies from The Walking Dead, Night Of The Living Dead or even Plants Vs Zombies are just mindless drones, driven by instinct. Husks are much more sinister. Rather than rotting flesh, the body of a Husk is slowly eating itself, turning into a machine. Husks are featured as a fairly weak enemy to be gunned down before their numbers mount, but the notion of our bodies deleting themselves cell by cell and adding cybernetics in their place is a horrifying thought.

It’s not until the third game, where non-human species get their own Husk variant, that Mass Effect really leans into the unsettling horror of these creatures. Depending on your choices in Mass Effect 2, former squadmate Morinth can even be transformed into an asari Husk: referred to as a Banshee. Morinth is certainly not a saint, but this still feels like a terrible fate for her.

The Mass Effect games aren't your classic type of horror, but it can still give you some sci-fi chills this Halloween.

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AUTHOR: Stacey Henley
Stacey Henley can most often be found roaming through vivid expansive spaces and discovering the world around her, but only in video games. In real life, she mostly stays home. Blog at Tweet at @FiveTacey. Published in TechRadar & WhatCulture

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