#3. Assassin's Creed -- The Creepy Clone Factory
Each game in the Assassin's Creed franchise tasks the player with assassinating historical targets while chilling out with famous people from your high school textbook. Each game is also a treasure trove of mind-boggling glitches. For instance, in Assassin's Creed: Revelations, you get this surreal nightmare that's like something out of a murderous version of Fantasia:
The player is hiding in a haystack waiting for a group of guards to calmly walk past. Soon, the player notices that something is amiss, specifically when a small group of guards turns into a never-ending stream of cloned soldiers originating from some off-screen portal to the unholy realm where such men are born:
"Well, one of us is gonna have to change."
Somewhere around 1:30 in the above video, the player sprints out of the haystack. Seconds later, he turns around to see a massive flood of enemies staring him down, holding swords. (For those who don't know, battles in the game normally involve a number of enemies that you can count on one hand.)
"H-hey, guys, look over there, a woman is trying to buy property!"
And strangely, that's not the only unsettling clone glitch -- the first game sometimes spawns a clone of the protagonist ... and of course, you can murder it.
"Is that what my butt looks like? You'd think 10 hours of parkour per day would be enough."
There was a glitch that sometimes occurred when you died in certain areas of the map (like if you fell off a cliff). The game respawned you with an exact clone of yourself who copied all your actions, as if an alternate version of you had stepped out of the floor-length mirror you used to get dressed in your assassin hoodie that morning. The Mirror Man would follow you around, fight with you, and, presumably, masturbate with you.
You can interact with the clone as if it were any other character in the game, which means you can fight yourself, or ... assassinate yourself.
If you murder your clone in cold blood, the game reacts as if your character died and respawns you at a checkpoint. Wait a minute, but that means ... were you the clone the whole time?
#2. Batman: Arkham City -- The Riddler in Hell
Batman has had to deal with some scary shit while patrolling the streets of Gotham. Hell, the dude saw his own parents murdered right in front of him. The Dark Knight Trilogy's Scarecrow alone was freakier than a lot of horror movie monsters. Batman can handle his shit, is what we're saying.
Unless that shit involves finding a hidden corner of Arkham City and getting whisked into some Escher-like landscape players call "Blue Hell," that is. Alternate dimensions of madness utterly divorced from all that we know to be true are not the sort of thing you can take out with a batarang.
"I knew putting that mescaline in my utility belt was a bad idea."
As demonstrated in this video, all you need to do is fly onto a tiny precipice on Gotham's waterfront, then slide through an invisible wall, which will bring you to a normal, albeit glitchy, room inside the building. But on the far side of the room is a door that leads into the Other Gotham, an empty void taken up by nothing but a small floating structure.
"Can't a guy find a place to masturbate in peace?!"
Below is a bottomless pit (if you fall into it, you'll fall forever -- you can only stop by reloading your last save), and ... who's that standing on the platform out in the middle of the nothingness?
"WHAT'S YOUR GAME, NYGMA?"
Yes, for no apparent reason at all, the Riddler (who you otherwise only briefly see in the game) is hanging out on a platform nearby, making a stupid pose and staring. He's alive, as Batman's equipment detects a heartbeat and you can see him breathe ... but he never does anything. He's just there, watching you in this dark place, as if to say, "Uh, yeah, I think this one got away from me."
#1. The Elder Scrolls -- Night of the Living Mannequins
Yes, Skyrim makes the list a second time, its digital world so vast and glitchy that it somehow becomes a grand incubator where dark abominations are born. Which brings us to the mannequins.
Half of the 200 hours we spent in Skyrim was dedicated to managing our ever-growing collection of swords and armor. Luckily, you could acquire mannequins to put in your house so you could display your battle treasures for, um, no one, since it was a single-player game. And on occasion, just out of the corner of your eye, you could catch them moving.
It starts very subtly indeed -- you simply notice that the mannequins don't quite stay where you left them. The player comes back to his house and notices that the mannequins are no longer standing on their pedestals.
"Mom, I told you not to move my 300-pound stuff!"
But then, one day, you walk in and see this:
"Um ... you're home early."
That's not a GIF error. The person in the video walks in on the mannequins casually prancing about, and when they notice the player, they immediately teleport to their stands, like some Lovecraftian version of Toy Story.
Now here's what happens when the same guy goes to check his basement:
"Oh no, it's Andar! Back to your stations!"
For some bonus fun, check out this short machinima made with a modded game about the inevitable conclusion of this madness. If your own soul doesn't spontaneously reject your body upon seeing the ending, it means you didn't watch it alone, in the dark, with headphones.
Pro Tip: Keep a fresh pair of underwear nearby.
And here's a little bonus horror for you from the Elder Scrolls series:
Skyrim's predecessor, Oblivion, contains an armor enchantment called chameleon. If you wear enough pieces of chameleon-enchanted armor, you become totally invisible, which makes sense if you paid attention in bio class.
But apparently this creates a glitch that can sometimes make mysterious shadow assassins appear out of nowhere.
They are invulnerable and do not speak or move, until you promise them that you will be a better person if given another chance.
"Oh, did I wake you? Good."
Check out Chris at his site Laffington.com or his Twitter, if you're into that. For more from Ashe, check out Weird Shit Blog. You can also buy his book, The Book of Word Records, right now from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
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Related Reading: Have you seen Call of Duty's terrifying undead glitch? Once you've digested that, click here and see Connor Kenway, compulsive masturbator. Cool down by scaring the bejeezus out of yourself with even more video game glitches.