Jeremy enjoys gaming when not helping manage the college he graduated from.
Best Video Game Masks
From cool, to cute, to creepy, video games characters don a variety of outfits. But of all a costume's components, masks particularly draw our eyes because they inherently contain a mystery, hiding the wearer's identity.
Many face-hiding disguises even play a role in a game's story, but which reign supreme? These are the 30 best masks in video games!
Warning: Spoilers and creepy images ahead.
30. Zero's Mask
Game: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors (999)
In this criminally-underrated visual novel, players solve puzzles to escape a sinking ship before the bombs strapped to their wrists explode. As fun as the brain-teasers are, 999's real charm lies with its characters—you're stranded with eight other participants, each with complex motivations and hidden secrets.
Perhaps the most interesting is Zero, the mastermind who kidnapped you. Uncovering his/her/their identity remains one of gaming's most mind-blowing experiences.
29. Ryu Hayabusa's Mask
Game: Ninja Gaiden
I'm not sure if "mask" is the right word here, but either way, Ryu is arguably gaming's most famous ninja, slashing through foes with his lethal skills. He also joins the Dead or Alive cast for some fighting game antics, providing arguably the strongest fighter in DOA5.
28. G-Mantle's Mask
Game: The King of Fighters 2000
While not as renowned as some of today's champions, G-Mantle resembles the titular characters from V for Vendetta and Phantom of the Opera. Throughout his fighting game appearances, this specter-like entity floats rather than walks and never talks (save for his signature laugh), compounding our intrigue.
27. Orlesian Mask
Game: Dragon Age: Origins
Appearing throughout several Dragon Age games, the Orlesian Mask may not have a significant story role, but it still carries an awesome design. In its first appearance, it was exclusive to the game's secret character.
26. Philemon's Mask
Game: Megami Ibunroku Persona
Appearing throughout the Persona series, Philemon is a mysterious otherworldly being who helps individuals unlock their monster-fighting Personas. Philemon won't directly aid you in battle, but it's thanks to him that your party can fight at all.
Of course, Joker's team from Persona 5 also deserves a shout-out for their awesome Phantom Thief masks.
25. Miraak's Mask
Game: The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim
If you obtain this awesome-looking equipment (worn by the antagonist of Skyrim's final expansion), it not only decks you out with cool gear, but grants a big increase to Fortify Magicka, giving you a larger pool and faster Magicka regeneration.
24. Pinwheel's Masks
Game: Dark Souls
Despite his intimidating appearance, Pinwheel is arguably the easiest boss in Dark Souls. When you defeat him, he'll drop one of his three masks. But don't worry, you can later purchase the others from Patches in Firelink Shrine.
23. Lucina's Mask
Game: Fire Emblem: Awakening
Lucina's mask only conceals half her face, but with it, she's successfully able to masquerade as the ancient hero Marth, especially since she carries his signature sword, Falchion.
Once "Marth" is unmasked, she proves an invaluable member of your team. Not only does she inherit skills from her parents, Lucina's weapon never breaks, and she spend a turn using it to regain 20 HP, ensuring you never need to rush a healer towards her.
22. Jack of Blade's Masks
The Fable games present players with tough choices throughout their role-playing adventures, one being whether to destroy the Jack of Blades mask (in Fable: The Lost Chapters), or accept its powers—and possession—for yourself. But even if you do the noble thing and torch the mask in lava, Jack of Blades may not be gone for good . . .
21. Splicer Masks
Bioshock's Splicer enemies wear various masks, hiding their own disfigured faces. These masks range from creepy to creepier, with many (rabbit, spider, butterfly, etc.) based on animals.
20. Phantos Masks
Game: Super Mario Bros. 2
These rare enemies don't appear in many Mario games, but that doesn't mean they're not tough. Once you grab the key a Phanto guards, it endlessly chases you (even through rooms and screens) until you use that key to unlock a door.
Not even Super Stars let you defeat a Phanto, so you've got little choice but to avoid them. That said, you can defeat them with a glitch by combining a Stop Watch and Super Star, but you'll rarely have both available.
19. Death's Hand's Mask
Game: Jade Empire
The lingering remnant of a betrayed prince, Death's Hand is a mysterious antagonist in service to the Emperor. Once you eventually defeat and free him, you can either free his spirit and allow him rest, or bind him into servitude, where he joins your party.
While the latter sounds like the more-selfish option, if you follow the path of the Open Palm, Death's Hand begins a quest for atonement. And come on, who can resist having this guy on your team?
18. Dollface's Mask
Game: Twisted Metal
Many of today's entries wear their mask by choice, but not Dollface (at least initially). As the assistant to a mask-maker, she accidentally spilled coffee on some documents, which caused her boss to nail a mask to her face as punishment. Yikes, Dollface, maybe talk to a labor union about that.
2012's Twisted Metal reboot alters her origin, but either way, Dollface adds a memorable and surprisingly sympathetic character to her vehicular combat games.
17. Tyson Rios's Mask
Game: Army of Two
Along with his partner, Elliot Salem, Tyson is a tough-as-nails mercenary working for various factions. Tyson tends to be more level-headed and moral than his partner, but they complement each other well and their companionship proves one of the game's highlights.
16. Hotsuma's Mask
While not as famous as Ryu, Hotsuma's sad tale reminds us that being a master ninja has its drawbacks. Hotsuma's sword skills deserve mention, and he's cool enough to pull off a mask with two sets of glowing eyes. Like all good ninja, he wears a scarf, definitely for practical purposes and not just to look cooler.
15. Scorpion's Mask
Game: Mortal Kombat
The mascot of the Mortal Kombat franchise, Scorpion's long-standing rivalry with Sub-Zero results in many titanic clashes, and unlike most fighting game protagonists (like Street Fighter's Ryu or Soul Calibur's Siegfried), he's more anti-hero than hero.
Some of Scorpion's Fatality finishers include his Fire Breath (which shows his unmasked face is simply a skull) and a ranged spear that pulls foes closer for a melee attack.
14. Handsome Jack's Mask
Game: Borderlands 2
Despite his brutality, you can't help but laugh at the clever wisecracks from this tyrant. Handsome Jack is so self-obsessed that he based his mask on his original face, highlighting his vanity and arrogance.
And in the prequel (amusingly named Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel), we witness Jack's fall from glory and see that maybe, just maybe, he wasn't always a bad guy.
13. Vega's Mask
Game: Street Fighter 2
This narcissistic warrior from Spain wears a mask in battle not to conceal his identity, but protect his face from getting bruised. He also wields a claw-like weapon that grants impressive melee range. Normally I'd cry foul at these tools being allowed, but who can blame Vega when Ryu and Akuma are tossing energy spheres around?
12. Pig Mask
Game: Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
What's worse than a creepy pig mask? Try one that silently stalks you throughout your game. Similar to Slenderman, the mask never moves when you look directly at it, but it's constantly positioning itself off-screen for jump scares. Its expression can also change, either sneering at you with a smile or angrily glaring.
Plus, the exact nature of the mask is never revealed—theories still abound on what exactly it represents.
11. Shy Guy's Mask
Game: Super Mario Bros. 2
Unlike Phantos, Shy Guys went on to become a Mario staple. While they're technically enemies, it's hard not to love these cute and chronically-timid foes. While we've yet to see what lies beyond their mask, Luigi got a glimpse during Shy Guy's ending in Mario Power Tennis, and whatever he saw sparked a shocked expression.
10. The Chaser's Mask
Game: Slender: The Arrival
In this horror game, after evading Slenderman in the woods, you (playing silent protagonist Lauren) face an even scarier challenge in an old mining facility. Here, you're pursued by both Slendy and his terrifying "proxy". While Slenderman warps around when you're not looking, The Chaser constantly sprints at you, and you can't harm her beyond briefly stunning her with your flashlight.
Spoiler: Evidence strongly suggests The Chaser is actually Kate, the original protagonist of the first Slenderman game.
9. Meta Knight's Mask
Game: Kirby's Adventure
Who would have thought a series as cutesy as Kirby could introduce such a cool character? Meta Knight often challenges Kirby, but with seemingly good intentions, and he'll honorably hand his rival a sword before they duel.
Meta Knight also has many interesting theories surrounding him—we've seen brief glimpses of him unmasked, where he highly resembles a blue Kirby. And evil counterpart Dark Meta Knight has a mask that's arguably even cooler.
8. Fierce Deity's Mask
Game: The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask
Majora's Mask is often cited as the darkest Zelda game ever made, and its plethora of creepy masks contribute to its melancholy atmosphere. Most masks are optional, but if you manage to obtain them all, you'll be rewarded with the Fierce Deity Mask, which transforms you into a ridiculously-strong form during boss battles.
Plus, the Fierce Deity himself is a mystery. Who was he, and was he good or evil? After all, Skull Kid calls Link "the true bad guy" when handing him the mask, and the manga depicts FD as a malicious being. By using the mask, you can easily conquer the game's bosses, but are you letting yourself be corrupted by an evil god?
7. The Puppet's Mask
Game: Five Nights at Freddy's 2
As one of the creepiest enemies in the FNAF series, The Puppet leaps out to kill you via jump-scare if you neglect to wind the Music Box. FNAF games give us many puzzle pieces while rarely connecting the dots, but with the Completion ending of Freddy Fazbear's Pizzeria Simulator, The Puppet is revealed as the spirit of Henry's deceased daughter.
6. Cubone's Mask
Game: Pokémon Red and Blue
Ghost-type Yamask also deserves a shout-out, but Cubone bears a surprisingly depressing story for the generally-lighthearted Pokémon series. Cubone (whose original name was Orphon) dons the mask of his deceased Marowak mother, who died at Team Rocket's hands in Lavender Town. Not depressing enough? Consider that Marowak's alternate Alolan form is Fire/Ghost-type.
Many fans speculate what lies beneath a Cubone's skull, with some noting his features somewhat resemble Kangaskhan (who was potentially intended as Marowak's final form) and Charizard.
5. Dillinger Death Mask
Game: Payday 2
Payday 2 has enough awesome masks to fill its own list, but the eeriest is the Dillinger Death Mask. Not only does it simply look freaky, but it's also based on the face mask created from real-life killer John Herbert Dillinger after he was killed in a shootout with law enforcement.
4. Darth Nihilus's Mask
Game: Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2
KOTOR 2 offered an insightful exploration into the nature of the Force, blurring the lines between "good" Jedi and "evil" Sith. Yet despite his prominence on the box art, Darth Nihilus ended up playing a smaller role than most fans expected, but no one can deny his awesome design and intimidating mask.
3. Corvo's Mask
Blamed for a crime he didn't commit, Dishonored protagonist Corvo Attano works to reclaim his kingdom's throne and uncover the real conspirators. His identity-concealing mask makes sense since his country views him as a traitor, and you can play him as either a ruthless assassin or a non-lethal hero.
2. Darth Revan's Mask
Game: Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
The original KOTOR offered the best Star Wars game of its time, exploring the Republic thousands of years before the films take place. The game featured numerous choices (rare at the time), solid action, and a strong story, introducing Darth Revan, perhaps the second-most revered Sith (after Vader) of all time.
Combining traits of Jedi, Sith, and even Mandalorians (which is where he got his mask), Darth Revan quickly became a fan-favorite rivaled only in popularity by HK-47, his humorous assassin droid.
1. Majora's Mask
Game: The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask
Most Zelda games cast Ganondorf as the villain, but Majora's Mask offered a welcome reprieve from the evil warlock. With its glowing eyes and spirit-infecting power, Skull Kid's mask remains one of gaming's most distinctive artifacts. With dozens of engaging theories, fans still discuss the implications and insinuations throughout Termina to this day.
Video Game Helmets
Today we highlighted several awesome electronic masks, but don't forget about similarly-awesome helmets on characters like F-Zero's Captain Falcon and Metal Gear Solid's Gray Fox.
Helmets, masks, and other face-obscuring garments mystify us by concealing their wearer's identity, and I look forward to more jaw-dropping visuals and reveals from future characters. But for now, vote for your favorite mask and I'll see you at our next gaming countdown!
© 2019 Jeremy Gill
Mikey Karlovsky on July 26, 2019:
Huge Star Wars fan here, kinda feel Revan can be #1