Headcrab is a recurring character in the Half-Life game series. It is one of the deadliest enemies which make its first appearance in Half Life’s first installment, Half-Life. Headcrabs are also known as headhumpers, parasitics, and biotics. Their bodies have varied skin colors depending on their sub-species and they use 4 legs to crawl. Though Headcrabs are small in size, they have the ability to jump as high as 10 feet and can take their hosts down by attacking their heads.

in order to grasp a better understanding of the ‘Headcrabs’ character, the next section takes a closer look at the parasitics’ abilities and characteristics by explaining the following in detail.

How the Headcrabs work?

Headcrabs attack their targets, humanoid hosts usually, by landing on their face. They cling on to the prey’s skull and break into it with the help of their beaks. Headcrabs have the ability to control their prey’s nervous system and by doing that, they completely rip off their victims from any ability to resist. They do so by secreting such chemicals into their victims’ bodies which not only mutate their reflexes and hampers them from moving but also cause damage to brain chemistry.

Throughout this process, Headcrabs keep themselves attached to the victim’s head unless finally, they become ‘one’ entity. The whole process results in visible body changes such as elongated nails, rotten skin, and deformed hands and feet, thus changing a subject into a zombie. All of this process takes a few minutes. Once the victim has been clearly turned into a zombie, they look like a walking dead form of a Headcrab which is able to communicate through their zombie cries.

Types of Headcrab Sub-species

There are four types of Headcrabs introduced in the Half-Life game series. These include the Standard Headcrab, the Fast Headcrab, the Poison Headcrab, and the Armored Headcrab. Each one of these is explained below.

  1. The Standard Headcrab: The Standard Headcrabs are basically Headcrabs in their most infant form. They appear in Half-Life I at the end of the game. They have the ability to change their humanoid hosts into Gnomes which are also referred to as Standard Zombies.
  2. The Fast Headcrab: The Fast Headcrab appears in the second installment of the Half-Life game series, Half-Life 2. Just like their name depicts, their specialty is their speed. The Fast Headcrabs are capable of creating zombies out of their hosts very fast. Since they affect the host’s motor skills too while they change them, their victims become really fast in terms of their walking and attacking speed.
  3. The Poison Headcrab: As their name suggests, Poison Headcrabs contain poison in their bodies. As soon as they attack their victims, the poison gets injected in them and they transform into Poison Zombies. This Headcrab species was also introduced in Half-Life 2 and is considered, to date, the most dangerous form of Headcrab species ever created.
  4. The Armored Headcrabs: Armored Headcrabs are called so because of their strong backs. Their backs are covered with thick armors, protecting them from enemy attacks. However, to counter their strength as a deadly parasite, their undersides have been made vulnerable as compared to other forms of Headcrab species. They can be finished off with one blow of a strike in these areas.

All of the Headcrab species serve one purpose; destroy human lives by turning them into zombies on the order of the Combine. Another point to be noted here is that all of the species of Headcrabs differ in size and survival tactics too. For example, Standard Headcrabs were the smallest in size. They had visible teeth and stomach and could be destroyed by being exposed to toxic environments. The Standard Headcrabs possessed the ability to survive deep waters.

On the other hand, Headcrabs in Half-Life 2, The Fast Headcrabs and The Poisonous Headcrabs namely, had reversed characteristics. Both of the species that were introduced in this installment were far greater in sizes, could not survive deep waters but could live through toxic environments. Thus, the later remodeled versions of Headcrabs species which were introduced in the second game were far stronger and scarier than the ones in Half-Life 1.

Other Information

In the Half-Life game series, Headcrabs’ primary targets are humans. However, they are themselves the target of other species such as Bullsquids and Vortigaunts. As the story rolls out, it is shown that despite their predatory nature, Headcrabs can be tamed and domesticated too. In order to achieve that goal, humans need to remove their beaks with which they carry out primary attacks.

Headcrabs, as a character, became so much popular with fans across the world that Valve had to launch merchandise pertaining to them. These included a plush Headcrab and a Headcrab hat. This merchandise is available till today at online Valve stores for fans to purchase.

The character of Headcrabs introduces an element of horror into the Half-Life game series. They have been ranked as one of the most terrifying enemies in the world of video games by online magazines and entertainment websites. Owing to their popularity, the character of Headcrabs has also been used in other role-playing games such as Torchlight III, which introduces them as a pet toy. Others such as Super Meat Boy include them as an exclusive character, while some have dedicated whole gaming events after their character such as the game, Vindictus. It has an exclusive event called ‘The Headcrab helm’ named after the Headcrabs.

Headcrabs are one of the most heinous and horrifying characters of video gaming industry. Their abilities to suck human life out of their host and inject a life of their own into them, consequently turning them into zombies is commendable and scary. They are a bit difficult to kill but once killed; do not possess the quality of resurrecting themselves. To sum it up, Headcrabs are an intelligent, deadly and super-scary virtual creation which gives a hard time to their default preys-human beings.