If you ask gamers what the scariest video game ever is, they'll probably say something like Silent Hill or Amnesia or Pac-Man (seriously, try to imagine it in first-person view). But most of those games are intentionally trying to be scary. The true horror happens when a completely normal game that wanted nothing but to entertain you accidentally becomes corrupted, offering us a glimpse of what hell would look like if it were rendered in video game graphics.
Once again, let's look at what happens when video game glitches stop being annoying and start being terrifying.
Video games today look better than they've ever looked ... but at what cost? The RPGs created by Bethesda Softworks, for example, use complex physics engines that can simulate real-world physics to near perfection. When it works, it makes your games look all fancy and realistic -- but when it doesn't, it's indistinguishable from a demonic possession. For instance, Fallout: New Vegas throws fresh horror at you right in the introductory cutscene. If you get a certain glitch, your character wakes up, and the first thing he sees is a man who instantly starts channeling the girl from The Exorcist:
How many people thought this was part of the normal game and immediately threw the disc into a fire?
This happens before you are even allowed to move. You're stuck there, forced to watch him do that in front of you. In The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (another Bethesda game), you get glitches like this terrifying video of an adorable little kid who starts spinning around like a human Ferris wheel. While staring at you.
"Can you help me find my teddy bear, mister?"
"I think I left it over here ..."
"Or maybe ... over here ..."
That sort of shit can happen in the middle of the game, with no warning or explanation. Some enemies will inexplicably melt into a pile of liquidy goo after you hit them, and they'll just stay there looking like a piece of human gum stuck on the carpet unless you resurrect them with a spell.
See, normally, we have to write mods in order to make that happen.
You can even play with your melted enemy's body parts, but we wouldn't recommend watching the results on a full stomach. Then there's this video of a player in Oblivion walking into a room, only to find a sentient bed eat-fucking a guy to death, groaning with pleasure the entire time.
"And that's how baby demons are made, son. Any other questio- why are you crying?"
Warning: Close the video before 0:56, because at that point the bed starts limping toward you, and the intern we forced to watch that part still hasn't come out of his coma.
Not that Bethesda has the monopoly on unholy software bugs -- at any moment, you could pop in your favorite shooting game and see this:
"Hello, fellow human soldier. Can I take a look at your spinal fluid, just for a moment?"
That's a particularly disturbing glitch from the public beta release of Battlefield 3, in which players crawling on the ground would sometimes mutate into human slugs, or maybe contort themselves into grotesque, twisted horrors from The Thing:
HOW IS HE NOT SHOOTING THAT THING WITH EVERY GUN HE HAS?!
One of the coolest things about Minecraft (other than the fact that you can build almost anything) is that the world the game generates is nearly infinite. If you don't like the spot you're in, you can pick a direction, keep walking, and find another spot to set up as your home. Of course, due to the limitations of technology, it isn't really infinite. Like all things, Minecraft's world does have an end ... and that's where stuff gets bizarre.
Now we know why the game credits M.C. Escher as conceptual artist.
In older versions of the game, it was possible to walk all the way to the literal end of the world (estimated to take approximately 34 days of real-world time) and see what players referred to as "The Far Lands" -- the farther away you walked, the buggier the game got, so at that point the world simply stopped making sense. You could also cheat and warp there, which of course ruins the point a little.
As well as ruining the feeling of reward from discovering this miracle on your own.
In this Notch-forsaken place, huge ridges of jagged rock would spring vertically out of the ground with endless holes carved into them. The game could also, in certain spots, accidentally render extra layers of "ground" and sky that would stack on top of each other and fill the sky above you, like a pixelated version of the future from The Matrix.
Sorry, but if you want to impress us, build the human battery farm.
Weirder still, the game had a strange issue with rendering movement animations in the Far Lands, making it look like you were standing still and this demon world was rotating under you. Plants, animals and even the terrain itself appeared to be coming ever closer to you, while you were unable to move and presumably screaming inside.
Finally, if you spent too long in the Far Lands, the game would most likely crash, as though the madness had warped your computer and sent it into a gibbering fit of shrieking and cursing in dark, forgotten languages.
"May the Dark Lords forgive us all."
In the most recent versions of the game, the geography bugs are fixed, but the weird physics bugs and crashes remain. That leaves only one question: What's still out there that the game doesn't want us to see?
In 1993, Nintendo released The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening for the original Game Boy. Aside from having both a spoiler and a falsehood in its title (Zelda isn't even in the game, you guys), it also stands out for being kind of weird, even for a Nintendo game. Most of the creatures, areas and people you meet have a dreamlike quality.
"It's dangerous to go sober. Take this peyote."
But the doghouse glitch takes all of that to a whole new level. At any point in the game, as long as you've killed at least one monster, you can go back to the house next door to the one you start in (the one with the Chain Chomp tied up outside) and use a simple maneuver to trick the game into letting you walk through the side of a doghouse instead of the front, which for some reason thrusts you into a mixed-up LSD-influenced nightmare dungeon.
The dungeon will be different every time you go in, but in this version, the first thing you see is the image of an empty room with a two-headed dog standing in the center, which lasts only about a second. During that second, Link only appears as a flashing icon on the upper left wall.
He's recreating that scene from Altered States.
As you explore the rest of the dungeon, phasing through walls and falling into holes that don't exist, you come across things like the disembodied heads of little girls holding swords ...
... and a room with a man who appears to be drowning over and over.
Those are either his bones, or the bones of the gypsy who cursed him.
If you explore enough, you can even find items that you shouldn't be able to get until later in the game (and some that aren't obtainable in the game at all), mashed up versions of enemies, garbled sprites, doors and chests that won't open, and quite possibly the horrifying secret that the universe itself was created to hide.
Furthermore, the dungeon actually changes itself based on how many creatures you've killed since your last continue, like a House of Leaves-style labyrinth or a personal hell tailored to the amount of sins you committed while you were alive.
"This is the room where we store all of the families you cut in half."
Creepiest of all is that you can't choose when to leave, so if you want to go back to the normal game, you have to reset the console or die in there, the latter of which we don't recommend if you value your sanity.