For many people, Santa Claus is Christmas personified, from his iconic red suit to his twice-checked list. But for all that is light, there must be darkness. Every force for good must be met with an equal and opposite force. For Santa, that opposing force is the half-goat half-man creature Krampus, who punishes the wicked with a little bit of Season’s Beatings courtesy of the birch rods he carries.
These days, the winter season brings with it more Krampuses than you can shake a bundle of sticks at, from Krampusnacht celebrations in bars and Krampus Runs through the streets of major cities, to horror movies featuring the horned holiday monster in a starring role. Krampus cannot be bound by human constraints, and could never be limited to just one medium, so naturally he’s popped up in plenty of video games, too. Whether you’ve been naughty or nice, you’d better watch out, because we’re ranking some of the best versions of Krampus in video games based on creativity, fear factor, and sheer Christmas chaos.
8. Trapper Krampus (Dead by Daylight)
Multiplayer action survival horror game Dead by Daylight offers players the chance to take on the role of either one of four survivors, or a lone killer attempting to pick off the survivors one by one. One of the killers available for players to choose from is Evan MacMillan, or “The Trapper.” He specializes in, big surprise, catching survivors with the help of his bag of bear traps. But even bloodthirsty killers get a little festive sometimes, and a history of homicide hardly precludes someone from enjoying a bit of holiday dress-up! In 2020, Dead By Daylight introduced The Krampus, an ultra-rare outfit available to The Trapper that includes a horrific fleshy goat mask, a tattered shirt and pair of jolly red pants, and a weapon with a handle made from a bundle of sticks, in direct reference to the original folklore. The official description for the The Krampus Set reads: “A holiday monstrosity that punishes all the naughty boys and girls. Every Survivor that has dropped pallets and blinded Killers better watch out.” Better not cry, either, or Trapper Krampus will give them something to really cry about.
Of course, this Krampus isn’t the real deal, just a scary guy in an even scarier costume, so even though it looks great and really puts the “slay” in “sleigh bells,” it still comes in at the bottom of this list.
7. Krampus Killer (Pagan Peak VR)
This next Krampus also technically isn’t a true Krampus at all. He’s just some guy. But he makes up for that by being absolutely terrifying. Pagan Peak VR is regarded as one of the best horror VR games for the Meta Quest 2 headset, and it’s easy to see why. The story throws players into the unfortunate shoes of a criminal profiler who has been captured by the infamous Krampus Killer, a serial murderer inspired by the legend of Krampus himself. Trapped in a remote mountain cabin, the player must solve the Krampus Killer’s various riddles and attempt to outsmart him in order to catch the killer and escape with their life. Not the ideal game for a die-hard Krampus fan who prefers their monsters a little more inhuman and supernatural, but Pagan Peak VR offers a great slice of immersive wintry horror and a fun, seasonal twist on the crime thriller genre.
6. Santa Suit Reindeer Krampus (CarnEvil)
When it comes to creating truly monstrous-looking characters, the 1998 light gun arcade shooter CarnEvil knows how to come through. No Krampuses who are just guys over here! Krampus is the boss of CarnEvil‘s Rickety Town level, facing off against the player in a Christmas-y ice skating rink. Look at this absolute freak: the green grinch hands, the impractical claws barely holding on to the big lumpy Christmas sack, the scraggly beard, the antlers coming out of his hat and also I think maybe his ears?? Now that’s what I’m talking about.
Sure, he bears absolutely no resemblance to the Krampus of yore, coming across more like the result of putting Santa Claus and Rudolph into the machine from The Fly than anything else, but he’s doing his own thing and it works for him.
5. Frost Moon Krampus (Terraria)
Players of the action-adventure sandbox game Terraria can use the Post-Plantera item Naughty Present, a cute little gift-wrapped box emblazoned with an ominous skull symbol, to summon the Frost Moon event. Though Christmas-themed, the event can be summoned any time of year, just in case you’re in the mood for a little Christmas In July combat. Once the event has been triggered, a variety of high-level enemies will spawn and attack the player, coming over the course of 15 different waves and five bonus waves. One of the unique enemies that spawns during the Frost Moon event is Krampus, who has generously taken the day off from his child-flogging duties to attack gamers with his colleagues the Nutcracker, Yeti, and Elf Copter instead.
Now this is a classic Krampus—the platonic ideal of the Krampus, really. He doesn’t pose as much of a threat here as he does in other games, and doesn’t really get to step into the spotlight as much as he deserves, but he’s carrying his evil little basket on his back, he’s got those big horns and that long creepy tongue, and when you defeat him he even drops coins! What a guy!
4. Yuletide Feast Crashing Krampus (Wizard101)
Even the kid-friendly MMORPG Wizard101 has its own version of Krampus, though for the sake of young players his design skews way more in the direction of goat than hellish demon. He’s honestly kind of cute in a villainous sort of way, like the meanest goat head-butting toddlers at the petting zoo. As Yuletide celebrations are kicking off in the land of Wizard101, Krampus is preparing to interrupt the festivities and crash sweet old lady Oma’s Yuletide Feast. You monster, she was up all night cooking and you didn’t even RSVP! The least he could do is offer to bring cups, but of course he won’t. Players can use a gold skeleton key to take the fight to Krampus’s turf, Krampusgarten, where they have a chance to defeat him in combat and save the festivities.
Krampus is an extremely difficult opponent who cheat-casts spells, steals charms from the player, and, worst of all, talks about himself in the third person. Lines of Krampus dialogue include “Naughty, naughty. Krampus sees all!” “Krampus is everywhere!” and “Tis the season of Krampus!” You got that right, buddy.
3. Demonic Home Alone Krampus (Krampus Kills)
Everyone is busy around the holidays, rushing to pick up last-minute gifts, catching flights to loved ones across the country, and demanding figgy pudding from strangers via increasingly threatening carols. There’s just no time to beat around the bush, and thankfully, the title of this game gets right to the point. What does Krampus do in this game? Well, Krampus Kills. Krampus Kills is a first-person horror shooter revolving around a bratty little boy named Finley, whose bad behavior has drawn the ire of Krampus this year.
Targeted by the demon himself as well as his army of evil elves, artillery snowmen, and giant reindeer with spider legs, the player must fight their way through a suburban nightmare-scape and try to save their soul from being dragged to the underworld. Along the way, there are lore-filled scrolls to collect, which explain more about the game’s world and the story of Krampus. The game includes multiple unlockable modes, including Survival Mode, Hide and Seek Mode, and the incredibly difficult Nightmare Mode. Krampus Kills takes some creative liberties with its Krampus design, depicting him as more of a massive, scaly Jabba the Hutt with Horns type, but he and his evil army of misfit toys provide a fun dose of Holiday Fear just the same.
2. Animal Rights Activist Krampus (Don’t Starve!/Don’t Starve Together!)
In the unique wilderness survival game Don’t Starve, players take on the role of Wilson, a gentleman scientist who has been transported to a strange wilderness world by a demon. There, he must gather resources, explore the land, solve its mysteries, and find a way to survive. Basically, he needs to, you know, not starve. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and a few innocent creatures are likely to be sacrificed for the sake of the player’s survival. However, if the player is too overzealous in their hunt and kills too many innocent animals too quickly, their Naughtiness levels will skyrocket. Once the player’s Naughtiness reaches a certain threshold, Krampus will spawn to punish the player for their wickedness.
Once spawned, Krampus will scurry into a player’s camp, breaking open chests and stealing whatever he finds inside, and grabbing items off the ground as well. He will run circles around the player, scooping up their loot, until there is nothing left. Then, he disappears into his festive sack and is gone. This version of Krampus isn’t the scariest or most powerful, but he is the only one on this list who actually attempts to punish bad behavior in a meaningful way. This Krampus is simply defending the innocent, and it’s the player in this scenario who’s the real monster. Really makes you think.
1. Festive Fervor Krampus (Call of Duty)
Out of all the iterations of Krampus to appear in the vast world of video games, only one has caused as much chaos and strife out-of-game as he did in-game. This is one Krampus who not only tormented his game’s characters, but the players themselves. Call of Duty: Warzone and Call of Duty: Vanguard launched an event called “Festive Fervor” from December 16, 2021 to January 4, 2022. One of the features of this silly seasonal outing was Krampus, who served as an enemy stalking the players through the twinkle-lighted battlefield.
In Vanguard, the monster would target out players with low objective scores and punish them for failing to contribute enough to their team’s success. In Warzone, he would attack more randomly, often sinking his claws into players just about to win a battle royale match. Players were furious, complaining about Krampus all over Reddit and various other social media platforms. After the complaints grew loud enough, Call of Duty responded, and Krampus was nerfed, left but a shell of his former self. Look how they massacred my boy, and on his own holiday, no less. Listen, when Krampus comes to town, if you can’t stand the heat? Get out of the oven. We need it for the Christmas cookies, anyway.
Still, we’ll always remember Call of Duty Krampus the way he was, tormenting gamers and raising a little holiday hell. Just like the real Krampus would want.