Can a video game be haunted? I don't mean like they were occasionally haunted in crap horror movies in the last decade. I mean can an abstract landscape made up entirely of 1s and 0s actually have bizarre, unexplainable phenomenon hidden within it just like an abandoned asylum or the Bridgewater Triangle? The answer is yes.
Like real life, sometimes it's a coincidence, sometimes it's a joke, and sometimes no one knows what the hell is really going on. Since Halloween is fast approaching I thought I'd point out to you that even when you're sitting down playing video games the nether realm lingers close by just waiting for you to drop your guard.
The Hitman series is brutal, as you would expect from a franchise where you play a hired killer, but it's not a frightening game. The third entry focuses on stealth when it comes to completing your missions, but if you stray just a bit off the beaten path there are a couple of deeply unsettling little paranormal pockets.
The first is in the Meat King's Party mission. An obese criminal called the Meat King is celebrating a court case against him collapsing, and Agent 47 infiltrates it to kill him and hopefully rescue the daughter of his employer. She's unfortunately dead and partially butchered. If you shoot the record player in the room where you find her, then turn the volume way up on your TV, you can hear eerie feminine laughter that comes from nowhere.
More well-known is the ghost in the Traditions of the Trade mission, where you are out to eliminate a terrorist and retrieve a chemical bomb. It takes place in the Thermal Bath Hotel, and by picking the lock to a closed wing you can stumble across a murder scene that includes a knife stuck in a wall and a bathtub full of blood. If you happen to look in the mirror of the bathroom a ghost suddenly appears behind you. Is he there when you turn around? Did you flunk Horror Movie 101?
Remember, this isn't part of the plot. You get nothing for finding the ghost... except a need to change your pants. It's just there. Waiting.
The World of Warcraft lives up to its name. It's an entire world, and it is just chocked full of bizarre things. Some are intentional, and quite neat, like the Ruins of Lordaeron. The castle was the setting of Warcraft II and III until Prince Arthas was possessed by the Lich King and killed his own father. Hang around the throne room with the volume all the way up and you can hear King Menethil being warned about Arthas. Go outside in the courtyard with "detect invisibility" turned on and you'll see the ghosts of the people who once lived here.
That's creepy, but it's nothing compared to an abandoned dungeon known as Lower Karazhan. The area is rumored to be an upside-down version of the actually accessible Karazhan mentioned in the novel the Last Guardian, though it doesn't resemble that dungeon at all. It's sealed, but there are various ways to get through using tricks.
It's not much to look at at first, just a generic crypt-sort of place, but once you go under water just past the area called Pauper's Walk you'll see why Blizzard abandoned the area and sealed it against entrance. They'd created something too terrible to see.
Hanging on hooks in the water is a collection of prisoners that have all had their hands cut off and their eyes torn out. Nothing else this gruesome exists in WoW. In some places of the dungeon, a faint beating of a massive heart can be heard, and others have reported voices. Let this be a lesson. When a game company creates something then locks the door against it intending it never be opened, for the love of God listen to them.
This one is actually more sad than creepy.
In all of video game history, no character has ever been more fervently wished back alive than Aeris Gainsborough. A sweet flower girl from the slums, Aeris went alone to pray for the power to stop the apocalypse only to end up impaled on the massive sword of Sephiroth. Just as every comic geek remembers where he was the night Gwen Stacy died, every gamer with even a sliver of goodness can tell you how he felt as Aeris' body was lowered into the water for her final farewell.
Rumors abound even to this day of a way to cheat death and return her from the Lifestream. After all, didn't every playable character in VI survive the crash of the Blackjack and the cataclysms the ended the World of Balance? Didn't every ally that sacrificed themselves in IV return to fight again, save Tellah? Alas, it's not to be. Aeris dies for real.
Near the end of the game, it's possible to reenter the church where you first met her. Depending on the version of the game you're playing, you may see her alive and well, tending her flowers. However, if you rush forward to meet her, she flickers and disappears. One theory is that this is simply a glitch in the system, which would explain why only some versions have it.
The other theory is that Square is a bunch of dicks that like watching gamers cry. I lean towards the latter because of the ending of Advent Children.
Grand Theft Auto has a lot of rumors. Some say Bigfoot has been spotted, or UFOs, or a half-man, half-rat creature that lives in the sewers. Most of these are a load of hooey. One of them is not.
If you take yourself out into the hilly Back o Beyond area, there is indeed something in the woods. Say you're out there strolling around at night, because you're an idiot apparently, when all of a sudden a car without a driver in it comes hurtling down towards you. It can, and does happen.
Basically, the game never wanted you to get stuck out in the wilderness without a ride, so it spawns abandoned cars randomly to allow you a set of wheels. All that is happening is that if the car spawns on an incline it will start rolling until it hits and object, be it a tree or you. It's really not all that scary unless it surprises you out of the darkness.
Well, it wasn't that scary until some genius invented a mod that would make the car's lights come on and start hunting you down like it was Christine.
People think Nintendo is so wholesome and clean. It's easy to forget that Donkey Kong was Mario's abused pet gorilla until he escaped, that the Star Fox team had their lower legs all voluntarily amputated and refitted with bionics to handle high G flight, that Samus Aran continuously commits mass genocide of indigenous species, and a host of other things you either didn't know or never really thought about.
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Luigi's Mansion has the worst of these.
Of course there are ghosts in Luigi's Mansion. That's the point. It's infested with Boos who have kidnapped Mario, leaving his cowardly brother to play Ghostbuster to try and save him. There is some evidence that he fails in this task and hangs himself in guilt.
There's a room full of mysterious telephones that Luigi can answer. At that moment lighting strikes and a shadow can be seen in front of him dangling in the air as if from the end of a noose.
Nintendo has never conformed or denied if this is simply a glitch where Luigi's shadow somehow ends up on the wall, or if it is indeed meant to be a terrifying Easter egg. Frankly, the timing is a little too pat, what with the creepy phone call and all. Plus, he's holding the phone with both hands, and the arms of his shadow are limp at his side. Did Luigi succumb to the Mansion, and now wanders restlessly believing he is still attempting rescue? Who knows.