We've told you about the creepiest video game Easter eggs ever found. But Easter eggs are hidden details that someone intentionally put there to mess with you -- their horror is still limited by the human imagination. No, the most terrifying game moments are when lines of code go awry to make characters start looking, and behaving, like monsters.
Lines of code, or maybe demonic possession. You be the judge.
#8. Call of Duty Series -- A Glitch Raises the Dead
While some of the Call of Duty games have a zombie mode, there are far scarier, unintentional zombies in the regular game. You'll be playing along in what is distinctly not supposed to be a level with zombies, and suddenly you run into this:
What do you know, war is hell.
... a mutilated corpse, standing perfectly still in the hall, its arms spread wide.
The problem is that to the computer that runs your video games, there's not a whole lot of difference between a live character and a dead one. They're all just lines of code. It's just that some are programmed to move around and talk and some are programmed to lie motionless on the ground. Sometimes those lines of code get mixed up, and you fucking get the stuff of nightmares. Like this:
That's a completely dead dude in Call of Duty: Black Ops. At first he's just laying there, moving his lips without saying anything, as if he were mouthing secret obscenities only the undead are privy to.
"... that's right. With a donkey."
But then, after you shoot at him (not while you shoot, but some seconds later), his body parts start twisting themselves over and over like he's being resurrected by the alien from The Thing -- at one point it looks like his head is going to snap off on its own.
It rejects its own bones and steals yours away.
Also, this happens in other games from the same series: here's a dead guy talking in Call of Duty 2 (and another one), and if you're not planning on sleeping anytime soon, feast your eyes upon the undead human vibrator from Call of Duty 3:
It's like he died while performing a break dance routine and his body simply refused to stop going. Even though he has no legs.
We're not sure who just got served here.
And it happens in other types of games, too: check out this twitching face in Crysis (and another one), this dead guy desperately fanning himself in Far Cry 2 and a dead lady turning her head around in Red Dead Redemption.
Here, we'll leave you with this winking corpse in Infamous:
"HELL IS HERE."
#7. Red Dead Redemption -- The Manimals
Red Dead Redemption is every cowboy movie ever in video game form. You ride horses, shoot six shooters and rob trains, and if you look closely, you may be shocked to discover that the game disc itself has two days' worth of stubble.
Even his farts make a p-ting! noise.
But while wandering around the game's vast deserts, you may come across something ... unsettling. Fans call them the Manimals, and they are things that even nightmares have forgotten. They are horrifyingly bizarre human/animal hybrids, like from some sort of carnival sideshow.
There are the Bird-People -- human beings who fly around the skies by flapping their arms like we all believed we could when we were children.
You thought regular bird shit was bad.
Then you have deformed horrors such as Snake-Man, who is little more than a rattling, hissing torso with a head twisted at an 180-degree angle and bulging, soulless eyes.
"What the hell has happened to my dick?"
Others, while appearing outwardly human, have the attributes of their animal side, such as Cougar-Man -- a bearded man charging around on his knees, yowling and clawing at the player like a cat.
Half-man, half-cougar, all Amish.
And sometimes you can find the opposite -- human characters replaced by animals, up to and including mission-critical NPCs. The Gunslinger Dog, for example, is a floating coyote wielding a freaking rifle and speaking with a Mexican accent.
In the sequel you get to take him around and solve crimes.
However, none of these compare to the utter terror that is the Donkey-Woman. The Donkey-Woman is, obviously, a donkey replaced with a woman model upon whose shoulders you can ride like a very easygoing prostitute. But that's not all. In a true mockery of humanity, the Donkey-Woman appears mostly human ... all except for the black horse head jutting out of her face.
"I like oats and long walks in other dimensions."
And this isn't people hacking or some sort of one-off series of glitches. Rockstar Games has actually acknowledged the bug and (luckily, for all our immortal souls) released a patch to fix it.
As if anything could fix a nightmare.
#6. Super Smash Bros. Brawl -- Pikaman And Other Terrifying Mashups
What's cooler than Mario fighting Sonic for video game mascot dominance? How about Mario fighting Sonic, but with Link's moves? Yeah, what if you could merge the characters to get cool hybrids! Let's see what happens when hackers merged Solid Snake with Donkey Kong ...
Behold, Donkey Snake.
OH HOLY GOD NO.
This horror came about when fans decided to hack their copies of Super Smash Bros. Brawl and perform what are known as "moveset swaps" -- taking one character and swapping out its moves and abilities for another character's, which seems perfectly innocent. But there was one horrifying consequence no one could have anticipated: Changing character movesets rearranges the character models as well (since the moves were designed assuming the limbs would be in certain places), with horrific deformities as a result.
So Pikachu with Ganondorf's moves becomes, well, see for yourself...
... yes. This is exactly what cosplay looks like.
"Children. Children are what we require."
Meanwhile, Link/Meta-Knight creates a crab-shaped monstrosity...
He's as baffled as we are repulsed.
And Giga Bowser/Jigglypuff (whom we've taken the liberty of naming Gigglypuff) becomes this fucking thing:
Peach/Kirby, on the other hand, looks like the most horrifying sex doll ever -- Her eyes a blank stare, her mouth twisted into a ghoulish scream. All the while her arms flop uselessly around her body.
Her eyes never close. And now, neither will yours.
It's like the game itself is trying to punish you for trying to play God (or Shigeru Miyamoto, we guess), turning your attempts to merge cool characters into unspeakable horrors worthy of Dr. Moreau.
#5. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas -- The Ghost Cars of the Forest
We've previously mentioned some creepy things in Grand Theft Auto IV, and it turns out these open-world sandbox games really lend themselves to dark pockets of undiscovered horror.
Likewise, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is specifically known for its urban legends and weird occurrences, which makes sense when you consider how enormous the game world is. There are so many myths about things you can find in the game that people are still discussing them seven years later. But among all the stories of UFOs and murderers and cryptids, there is one legend that's actually true: The Ghost Cars.
"Hey man, have you seen a dog and some kids running around here?"
If you venture out into the hilly countryside, away from the city, you'll find the automotive equivalent of Bigfoot: cars with no drivers roaming around the game. Sometimes they chase you, as if possessed by the spirits of drivers you jacked months ago.
The glitch is due to the fact that the game engine only spawns cars in the player's immediate area, and when you're in the hilly, country areas of the game's map, a car will appear on a hill and just roll like a real-life runaway car until it either eventually stops or hits something (most hilariously when it's you).
The chase music is "Yakety Sax" with broken violins.