The 6 Creepiest Easter Eggs Hidden in Video Games (Part 2)
Many famous video games have stuff hidden in them that most players will never find -- and in some (terrifying) cases, that's a good thing. Sometimes developers go through the trouble of creating a frighteningly elaborate Easter egg knowing well that only a select few will ever see it ... but that select few will be irrevocably changed by the experience.
This shit creeps us out, is what we're saying.
Skyrim -- The Secret Room of the Dead
Where do people go when they die? It all depends on who you ask, and if you ask Skyrim, the answer is, apparently, "To a dark, weirdly colored, cross-shaped room far under the ground."
Inaccessible in the Xbox version, ironically.
What you're looking at is the Skyrim death room. (Alternate names include the Underworld, That Place With All the Dead People, and "Holy shit, what is this?") It's a room underneath the ground that's filled with the corpses of non-player characters who have died in the game. Not all NPCs go there, of course. Only the unlucky few do. Some are allowed a proper death; others are automatically banished to this small room in the middle of nowhere where they languish in a pile in the ground for all eternity.
And while you can only reach it by hacking or running into a game bug, it's totally intentional -- the name of the room in the game's code is WIDeadBodyCleanupCell, and it's even got two little coffins down there to let you know just where you are.
Hell. Nudie hell. That is where you are.
Also, although the ends of the crossed corridors are open, they don't lead anywhere. Walking out of them simply drops you back in the middle of the death room, like in those endless loop levels in Super Mario 3, but with more death stench. Even the few dead NPCs who are up walking around can't leave. The room can be useful if you accidentally killed some poor character and still need to talk to him or her (again, only a few seem to make it down there), but otherwise it's just there to make you crap your pants and never play the game again.
Red Dead Redemption -- The Ghost Town of Tumbleweed
We've told you before about some of the insane things you can find in Red Dead Redemption, like the accidental human-animal hybrids or the rampant sexism, but there's at least one thing that seems to be highly unsettling on purpose.
No, not fat zombies. Fat zombies are too funny to be unsettling.
You may have seen newspapers in the game mentioning Tumbleweed, a ghost town in the New Austin territory. In fact, the game seems to go out of its way to imply that Tumbleweed is a literal ghost town in addition to just being abandoned: The newspapers say things like "Following recent reports of ghost sightings in the abandoned town of Tumbleweed, visitors are continuing to tell of unnatural happenings and strange feelings."
"In unrelated news, a talking Great Dane has been spotted in the vicinity with some oddly clothed youngsters."
If you actually bother to visit the place, it's not exactly a full-on spook show, but there are some rather creepy goings-on. The large abandoned mansion in town, for example, is filled with odd mutterings and occasional whispers. It turns out there's even an explanation hidden in the game that you're not supposed to come across. A player managed to get through an otherwise unopenable door and found that the developers had stacked several (alive?) people inside the room, apparently solely to create the noises you hear in the house.
"You will paaay for yooour ... Oh, uh, hi there. *Cough*"
Then there's something even more mysterious. Throughout Tumbleweed, you can hear a dog barking constantly. There are, however, no dogs to be found in Tumbleweed. If you follow the barks, you're led to the town cemetery, where the barks originate, but again, there's no dog. But then if you enter the church next to that cemetery, carved into the pulpit you'll see "The Devil has got into that beast."
Marsten resisted the urge to carve an R in "Beast."
What beast? It doesn't say, but "ghost dog" sounds like a pretty reasonable explanation to us. This means there's apparently a possessed invisible dog going around the game, possibly watching you when you poop.
Black & White -- The Game Whispers Your Name
Black & White is a god-simulator PC game, meaning you can be a benevolent deity who answers the prayers of his subjects or a dickish one who laughs and sips Mountain Dew as everyone starves. Both the original and its sequel are great games to play late at night while wearing headphones, due to a feature where you'll occasionally hear a creepy voice whispering "deaaaaath." This informs you that a villager has passed away, but when you hear it whispered directly into your ear as you're sitting alone in a dark room, it also serves as a friendly reminder of your own unavoidable mortality.
As a reminder of other limitations of the body, animals will sometimes take giant shits.
But don't worry, it's just a game -- it's not like the game is whispering that word to you personally. What's weird is that, every once in a while, instead of saying "death," the voice will actually whisper your real name.
By Yahoo's standards, that counts as "resolved."
There's no official explanation for this fun little Easter egg, but from what the players have gathered, the game picks up your name either when you set up your profile or from Windows itself. Yep, it can do that -- the game actually integrates itself with your email program and has villagers named after your friends alert you when you have mail, so we guess you're lucky the death voice isn't whispering stuff like "Permanently add inches to your maaaaanhooood."
Anyway, after the game has found out what you're called, it checks to see if your name is on the list of recorded names included in the game files, then brings up the clip at random times to spook you. Here's the MP3 file with all the names in the English version (they recorded different names for all available languages):
If your name isn't on the above list and the game still whispers it, we'd strongly suggest calling an exorcist. Oh, and before you start feeling safe because you don't play PC games, console games are perfectly capable of spying on you, too -- like in Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes, when a mind-reading enemy, Psycho Mantis, creeps you out by telling you exactly what other games you've been playing. This time the trick works by reading your memory card to see what games are saved there, meaning that this scene can last 20 seconds or 10 minutes, depending on how much of a nerd you are.
"And I see you've been enjoying [BROWSED PORN ON PS3 TILL 4 A.M.]."
Super Mario Sunshine -- The Hidden Mystery Book and the Monster That Poops Other Monsters
There are two types of Mario games (OK, there are like 15 types, but bear with us): the simple 2D ones where you just move from left to right indiscriminately stomping on shit, and the more complex 3D ones where you have to explore areas and collect objects ... while indiscriminately stomping on shit also. Super Mario Sunshine belongs to the latter category, but there's one extremely well hidden item in this game that has baffled fans for years, because no one knows what the hell it's for.
Apparently it's called a "bork" and people took it to the toilet before we had smartphones.
You see, there's a level in Sunshine where you're supposed to collect eight red coins inside a giant bottle full of water. At the bottom of the level, you'll find this structure:
Koopa Industries never finished this dolphin refuge because someone murdered all the workers.
Notice those square holes on the side? If you look inside the one on the right, you can see a brown door at the end, but it can't be opened. No one in the game even mentions this door, so it's impossible to know what's behind ...
50,000 unsold copies of Mario Is Missing?
... unless you pan the game's camera so that it goes through the wall. If you're standing in the right position, you'll see this:
Not a book icon on your HUD. A book floating in midair.
There's a book hidden behind the secret door. This game has been out for 11 years now, and we still have no idea who put it there or what forbidden knowledge lies inside. The Internet has some ideas, of course: There's a persistent rumor that in the Japanese version of Sunshine you have to find the book for a scavenger hunt, and if you open it, it says "You have no life. Signed, Shigeru Miyamoto" -- but that's simply not true (not the "we have no life" part; that's been proven by now). Here's the level in the Japanese game: It's the exact same thing. So what the hell? To make matters more confusing, the song playing in the background is called "The Book in the Bottle" in the original soundtrack.
The more likely explanation is that this is a leftover item from a mission the developers ended up cutting ... because this game does have a lot of weird abandoned stuff. Like this dude:
So that's how Goombas are born. No need to feel guilty about killing them after all.
That is a deleted enemy that poops smaller enemies. You can only see him by going into an unfinished-looking test level that was left hidden in the game. And if you throw water at him, the skin on its head falls off ... revealing a single giant, unblinking eye on top.
Nintendo's attempt to scare us all off circumcision.
On second thought, we'd rather not know what the people who came up with that put in the book.
Bit.Trip Runner 2 -- Slender Man Is Watching You
Sometimes the most sinister Easter eggs are where you least expect them to be. For instance, Runner 2 is a colorful game where all you do is jump platforms and dodge enemies as your character automatically runs through a stage to upbeat music -- it's basically what Pitfall for Atari would look like if it was made on present-day software (and possibly on drugs).
Just watch this for 10 hours. That is the game.
So this is a perfectly innocent all-ages video game (it's even narrated by Mario's voice actor), but since all that quick jumping and dodging requires so much attention, it's pretty easy not to notice the creepy shit they slip into the background. Like on this level:
Innocent enough, unless you're a grassophobe.
It looks pretty inoffensive, right? Like something you can safely play with your kids without fear that they'll go out and murder a prostitute with a rocket launcher and take off in a stolen car (we're looking at you, FIFA 14). But wait, who's that guy back there ...?
Oh, that's just the Internet's bogeyman, the Slender Man, a supernatural being who specializes in stalking and kidnapping young children. And he doesn't just show up one time; he actually follows you all through this level. Seriously, it's the exact same character from the urban legend, and he's even seen hanging out in his preferred kid-watching location.
The scariest thing to appear in the woods since the teddy bears' picnic.
The worst part is that the game's hyperactive nature makes his presence almost subliminal. You're replaying this stage over and over for half an hour (the game doesn't have lives, it just throws you back to the beginning if you make a single mistake), until you pause at the right moment and realize the Slender Man has been watching you all along. And Slendy isn't the only potential sex offender lurking in the background -- there are others out there, like this jogging giant in cutoff shorts holding a mysterious cylinder:
The cylinder is currently empty. Soon it will contain a child.
Or this ... whatever the hell this is:
The FBI has a special database for monocled disembodied octopus heads.
Psychonauts -- The Burning Orphanage
Psychonauts is the critically acclaimed cult classic from Double Fine Productions, who you might know better as "Those dudes who made a shitload of money on Kickstarter a few months back." Statistically speaking, you may not have played it, but you probably know someone who has.
Who probably won't shut up about it.
It's a fun, lighthearted game about kids using psychic powers and delving into other people's minds, such as in the Milla's Dance Party level, where you're inside the head of one of your instructors, Milla, an upbeat Brazilian woman who loves the '70s aesthetic. Nothing terribly weird there, for a video game.
And yet, if you find a secret room in the level, Milla will specifically warn you away from it, saying that it's "no fun" and "a party killer." If you press on, you can find a scrapbook showing Milla as an orphanage matron taking care of a group of children. Things take a bit of a turn when, in one of the pictures, Milla is shown outside the orphanage and it's on fire. And then you see screaming, burning children surrounding her.
Or trying to untangle themselves from her massively unkempt hair. One or the other.
After you flip through the scrapbook, you can enter a large chest in the same room with a red glow coming from inside (again disobeying Milla's lax warnings not to go there) -- at which point you'll find yourself in a straight-up hellish landscape, surrounded by wraiths hissing things like "MILLA, WHY DON'T YOU HELP US?" and "MILLA, WHY DID YOU LET US DIE?"
"MILLA, WHY DID YOU LEAVE THE HAIR STRAIGHTENER PLUGGED IN?"
So that's pretty intense, even for a T-rated game. What's even creepier, though, is if you dig through the game's files, where you can find voice-acted lines from Milla herself. It seems there may have been a cutscene intended to show Milla's gritty backstory instead of just a scrapbook, because there are recordings of her saying things like "Ahh! The orphanage! It's on fire!" "The children! Someone save the children!" "Oh, God, no!" and "They're screaming!" Plus assorted wracking sobs and cries of anguish. Man, no wonder this game is such a classic.
Maxwell Yezpitelok has a new webcomic about robot kids punching each other, if you're into that sort of thing. 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: Speaking of Easter Eggs, have you seen Skyrim's tribute to Minecraft? If creepy is what you want, let Portal 2 talk rapey to you. There's something special about games that put insane effort into stuff you barely notice. Help us honor them.
No Easter Egg here, just a good old fashioned alien ass-whupping.