It’s Halloween again, and while that holds little interest for us here at WASDuk HQ, having long sold our souls to the devil for the levels of immeasurable success we enjoy today, many of you will be setting yourselves up to play some terrifying video games in the dark, unless you’re a pussy. You’re not a pussy are you?
To celebrate the occasion we have here a list of ten of the creepier easter eggs to have graced video games, some in games that are not actually all that creepy.
Robbie the Rabbit
Silent Hill series
Initially making a bloodied debut appearance during the opening theme park level of Silent Hill 3; Robbie the Rabbit, the mascot of said theme park, recurs as an easter egg throughout the Silent Hill series and beyond. Described as the most popular of the park's four animal mascots, it's not made entirely clear whether the bloodied rabbit corpses are what remains of the poor sods, who imagined the worst part of their day to be posing for photo ops while trying to get on break, or are actually possessed and/or demonic outfits that have become monstrous because...well...they're in Silent Hill. In fact the amusement park level of Silent Hill: The Arcade pits you against the oversized lagomorph which potentially explains the repeated instances of his corpse in SH3.
Robbie appears again numerous times in the Silent Hill series. In Silent Hill 4 a hot air balloon displaying Robbie's head, can be seen from a window, complete with bloodied mouth. An alternate costume for Cynthia (though costume might be putting it generously) shows a Robbie the Rabbit tattoo on her ass, while a plush toy appears on Eileen's bed, seen through a peep hole. If you continue to observe Eileen without her knowledge the toy will turn and point at you, accusing you of being the obvious pervert that you are. Another Robbie doll, still bloodied and creepy as fuck, appears in Silent Hill: Homecoming where you actually give it to a child. Because nothing says the innocence of childhood like a bloodied rabbit plush.
While Robbie appears many more times and in more than one non Silent Hill game, he appears most frequently in Silent Hill: Revelations, the terrible terrible sequel to the Silent Hill movie, which had over a hundred Robbie dolls on set, presumably in an attempt to make it actually have something to do with the town of Silent Hill.
Project Zero's screen savers
Project Zero series
The Project Zero (or Fatal Frame depending on which side of the pond you live) series is pretty freaky. While playing as a young woman with little defence against the tormented ghosts that dog her steps is pretty atmospheric in itself, Project Zero makes the whole experience that little bit more terrifying by introducing ghostly voices and noises that may not herald the appearance of a hostile ghost. They also throw in a smattering of ghosts that have no hostile intentions at all, instead you can just spot them out of the corner of your eye, going about their regular day, or in the case of a couple of especially terrifying additions, just standing there, doing nothing noticeable whatsoever, which is a special kind of oh shit what the hell is that?!, when you realise it's been there the whole time.
But just in case your Project Zero experience wasn't already bordering on blood curdling terror, even the screen saver is suitably terrifying. Leaving any of the games unpaused and not touching the controller for a few minutes will trigger creepy images to appear over the screen. In the first game this is limited to bloody handprints appearing over the characters, the second game ramps up the scary with ghostly images of a child (sometimes an adult) visible beside your character, while the third game goes all out and has visions of Reika appear. Reika of course being the final boss, indestructible until you face off against her at the end of the game. Generally when she appears the only thing to do is run, fast, in the opposite direction babbling about how you don't want her to catch up with you. But no, by all means, PZ, have her appear casually as a harmless screen saver. That won't stop our hearts at all.
While in the 'telephone room' of Luigi's Mansion, Mario's leaner brother picks up a telephone (gasp and shock), if you remain standing with the phone to Luigi's ear, flashes of lightning will reveal a strange shadow cast on the wall before Luigi. Instead of holding a phone to his ear, Luigi's shadow is seen hanging from a ceiling beam.
A number of explanations have been put forth; the shadow isn't Luigi hanging at all, it's simply distorted by the camera angle vs the lighting effects. Alternatively the game was meant to be a great deal darker than the finished product and certain elements like the protagonist hanged from a ceiling beam, are remnants of the game that was meant to be. Or it's a glitch. Or it just might be Luigi himself, having committed suicide before the events of the game. But I guess that would only work if the game were about ghosts and haunting and oh...wait...
The Arkham games are full of little easter eggs and nods to the wider Batman and DC universe. While most of them are passive references to locations or characters, Scarecrow's boat is a a surprise of a different kind. Located in the Industrial District, the boat's hatch can only be opened by hacking a max difficulty code while standing in a specific spot.
Inside there are cockroaches crawling all over the place, having escaped from the crates in which they were being shipped. There's also a shipping invoice suggestive of the Scarecrow's future plans for Gotham City, which naturally involve his fear toxin. Strapped to a chair further into the boat is a thug on whom Scarecrow has been testing said fear toxin, the results of which are best viewed zoomed in for the full effect.
The Ghost of Mount Gordo
Grand Theft Auto V
GTA as a series doesn't really hold much terror for anyone, unless of course you're one of the in game hookers. It doesn't so much shy away from horror, there just isn't any need for it amongst your escalating petty crime wave.
Enter: Jolene Cranley-Evans, the deceased wife of Jock Cranley. She died after 'accidentally' falling while walking along some cliffs with her husband. An in-game article describes the circumstances of her death and if the player wishes to explore the matter, they can visit Mount Gordo; the place of her death. While walking through a nearby campsite on the way to the crime scene, screams and whispers can be heard, as well as Jolene's final screams as she falls from the cliff. Between eleven pm and midnight Jolene herself can be seen, as a creepy, passive spirit who floats above the rocks upon which she died. The ghost itself is reminiscent of a Japanese horror film with black hair and a white dress, staring at the player disconcertingly. Though if you approach she will disappear and the name 'Jock' will be found written in blood at the place where she had once been.
Headcrab Zombies Cries
Half Life 2
Headcrabs have always been a little freaky, especially to those of us whose first encounter with them was crouched underneath a broken door, frantically batting them away with a crowbar. Attaching themselves to humans, the headcrab takes over the host's mind, subsuming their will completely and bringing considerable biological changes; not least turning their rib cage into a giant mouth. If you remove a headcrab the human beneath is revealed to be blood stained and pale, with a look of frozen horror on their face. Which we can all agree is creepy on its own.
But then Half Life 2 had to take it one step further. Filtering the headcrab zombie sound files, or playing them backwards, has revealed that they are not just generic cries, instead they are phrases from the human within, such as, “My eyes sting!” “Oh God help me” or “Get it off me.” As if that wasn't disturbing enough, if you set them on fire the humans will be aware of it and cry out, “Put it out!” or “Gaaah I'm on fire!”
Portal 2 has so many easter eggs, its easter eggs have easter eggs. Littered throughout the Aperture facility are hidden chambers, usually covered in nonsensical graffiti, decorated with empty cans of food and usually featuring laments for the companion cube. While rambling and incoherent in nature, these dens usually have a secret to offer hidden within the text. These are the hideouts of Doug Rattman; an Aperture scientist who survived GLaDOS' attack on his fellow workers and went on to elude her by hiding throughout the facility in these secret dens. The accompanying comics to the game reveal that Rattman's attempts to elude GLaDOS forces him to discard his medication which causes his schizophrenic tendencies to run rampant without treatment. Hence the demented scrawls, paintings and an infatuation with a companion cube he believes is talking to him. Which it might be
While Rattma's dens are a little creepy in their own right, and if you've read the comics, a little sad, standing too close to a wall in one of them allows you to hear whispering voices which have been deciphered here.
The Winter Lodge
We'll take a break from the creepy to revel in the cheery world of Fable 2. Not here will we find blood curdling horror that causes us to grip our controller in fear, or just throw it across the room and hide behind the sofa. No siree.
In fact, let us take refuge in the idyllic Winter Lodge. Nestled within a romantic, snowy wood, the Winter Lodge casts a glow of welcome to the weary traveller that passes. There's an almost Christmassy feel to the place, and within the cottage burns a comforting fire and beyond, a dining table to sate your hunger.
Until you step into the cottage and the scene changes, almost instantly and quite dramatically, to one of horror. A shrill scream announces the drastic change, gone are the welcoming visions, replaced instead with the sight of a well used torture den. The dining table is now a rack, complete with skeleton, and the fireplace has been extinguished, again with a skeleton visible within. Indeed, the whole place is littered with skeletons. Meanwhile, the Christmassy path to the lodge has not escaped the gruesome transformation with the guiding lanterns replaced with gibbets. A woodcutting block now features a corpse beside it, though it is missing it's head. No matter, it might be in the bloody sack of body parts hanging from a nearby tree.
The Witcher 3
Another offering with a healthy smattering of easter eggs, The Witcher 3 has numerous references to modern popular culture. While some of them are outright comedic, with NPC's quoting Monty Python, the game's reference to Doctor Who is of a far more chilling nature.
First appearing in what is largely considered one of the best episodes of Doctor Who, Blink, the Weeping Angels are statues that remain stationary until you aren't looking, at which point they move with lighting speed towards you. When approaching a church in Lindenvale, you can see the entrance flanked by two angelic statues. Nothing untoward happens until you actually leave the church and find that the statues have, quite obviously, moved a la Weeping Angels style. Just hope they don't touch you as you pass.
Payday: The Heist
Another game which had little place for bone chilling horror, Payday: The Heist had you, as the title suggests, execute heists for money. It's a simple set up, one that has little place for ghosts, monsters or other disturbing characters. At least until No Mercy came alone, a mission that puts you in Mercy Hospital, the same Mercy Hospital that features in survival horror game Left 4 Dead.
Naturally it contains numerous nods to Left 4 Dead, with the episode taking place as a kind of non-canonical prelude to the game. The most startling of which is the appearance of a Witch behind a locked door when the lights are cut. Getting too close to the door will startle her and prompt her to scare the bejeezus out of you. Thankfully she can't get out, or that could pose some problems for the player, what with the whole one hit kill thing.