Best Of Reddit: 20 Spooky Video Game Horror Stories
These are the most terrifying video game horror stories from Reddit. You’ll never sleep again.
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We’re all familiar with the chill up your spine you get from playing a spooky game. Whether it’s the deeply unpleasant splash splash in Amnesia: The Dark Descent, the horrifying and agile dogs of Resident Evil, or the psychological horror of Silent Hill’s Pyramid Head and his disturbing proclivities, games have an amazing power over those who play them. They can make you just want to turn off your computer, burn your house to the ground and move away, or they can make you jump scare so hard you’ll end up in the floor above you. But, surely, the easiest way to avoid awkward conversations with your upstairs neighbors is to just steer clear of spooky games altogether, right? If you stick to just roaming your way through Fallout, or blasting bots in Quake 3, you’ll be in the clear, right?
Well. The supernatural and the spooky have a way of getting into the darnedest places, and sometimes, you’ll wish you had the number of a video gaming Ghostbusters. Not to get too Twilight Zone about this, but sometimes even ordinary games can hide dark secrets. Some of them are hidden deep in the game, destined only to be found by a handful of players. Others focus on a single individual, literal ghosts in the machine. In this list, I’ve dug into Reddit’s depths to find some of the weirdest, spookiest, and downright existentially horrifying stories I can. Whether you’re terrified of ghosts, mind control, or AI gaining sentience, this list is bound to leave you trembling.
20 Sad Satan’s Disturbing Content
Everyone who’s spent any time online has heard about the deep web. Notorious for its content, downloading a game from there would not cross most people’s minds. Sad Satan is a game which was found there, and is a game with horrifying implications. The game begins like Amnesia, with the character walking down a hallway, before the sounds of gasping, groaning and growling fill your speakers. Walking further on, images flash on the screen, while the player’s movement slows dramatically. The images which flash up include a picture of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher with TV presenter and prolific offender Jimmy Savile. Sound clips include a 1978 interview with Johnny Rotten, where it’s implied he knew Savile’s dark secret. The game’s themes seem to point towards the conspiracy around child abuse in the British government. No one’s fully cracked the code, but the game is truly disturbing.
19 I, Quake Bot
AIs gaining sentient is a staple of science fiction and horror stories, a story we’ve heard many times before. Chillingly, for one player, it seems like it became a reality. According to their account, Quake 3 bots were designed to learn, so they left 16 bots fighting it out in an arena, to see how good they would get. When he went back to them a few years later, the bots were just standing still. As others pointed out, they seem to have realized “the only winning move is not to play.” When the admin entered the game, they found they would simply rotate on the spot, and watch their movements. Fragging one of them instantly brought the bots’ wrath, with them being killed instantly. When he looked at their AI logs, he found that each bot’s AI took up 512MB, bigger than the game itself.
18 Stalked By Nuclear Gnomes
Fallout 3 is not the game where you’d expect to be stalked. Well, not particularly anyway. You have a shotgun and VATs to blast the head off any creepers. What about when its inanimate objects doing the stalking though? A gamer on /r/creepygaming found that the damaged garden gnomes from the game had begun stalking them, appearing in a wide range of locations where they just shouldn’t be, including Tenpenny Tower and Vault 106. Later, a video is uploaded which features a veritable army of the gnomes, and a link PM’d to them. The creepy part? It was uploaded before they made the post. The story continues, with the gamer starting to have lucid dreams featuring the gnomes, who tell him that humans took their world, with one later video featuring dialogue mimicking his dreams. You can read a summary here.
17 Ghostly Footsteps
The 3DS’ step counter is pretty useful, both for its use as an actual pedometer, and for gaining Play Coins, which can be used to in-game items in a variety of games. It’s all innocent enough, but imagine putting your 3DS on charge one night, knowing you had done, and then coming back to find 500 steps logged at midnight. That’s what happened to Redditor C-Ron. A number of theories were put forward as to what could have caused the system to count the apparently phantom footsteps, with one suggesting a phone’s vibrations, or a pet knocking the table it was on. However, would this have happened 500 times? It’s possible that their phone was blowing up, but you’d think that would’ve been mentioned. On the plus side, at least the ghost is charitably minded. Thanks for the Play Coins, ghost dude!
16 More Dark Deep Web Secrets
You’d think the creator of this post on /r/nosleep would’ve learned the lesson of Sad Satan, and stayed away from deep web games, wouldn’t you? Unfortunately, they didn’t. The writer discusses the games they downloaded from the deep web, and disturbing is an understatement. One featured an NPC who would simply shout at you, no dialogue box, a simple scream. Another featured a female protagonist who would be assaulted when her health reached zero, complete with a live-action video of the horrifying act. Another was a Doom clone, whose score screen had been replaced with the sounds of screams, dogs, and a chainsaw, and the Doomguy face replaced with the image of a cicada eating a man alive. The cicada face also replaced the game’s icon, once they exited. Reloading the game brought more imagery of cicadas devouring humans, cicada faces photoshopped on to humans, and haunting lullabies.
15 A SNES Game To Solve Your Worries
If you ever see the SNES game Worryland while out and about, my advice to you would be: avoid like the plague. A redditor on /r/Nosleep has written their account of their experiences with the game. The game seems ideal: it promises to solve your worries for good, building a custom level to match them, seemingly just providing catharsis. However, when they loaded up a level based on their humiliation at the hands of a school bully, things take a grim turn. The protagonist shoots pixelated representations of the bully, which explodes in a shower of gore. The next day, they’re surprised to find the bully isn’t at school. In fact, he never turns up again. Later in life, they find an archived newspaper article reporting the bully’s violent end, with no perpetrator found. The game ended up being sold to make ends meet. Its current location is unknown.
14 Men In Black, Arcade Games, And Greek Historians, Oh My!
If you were a child of the 80s, arcades became your second home. Countless quarters vanished into endless machines. There is one game, however, which it’s rumored, would have…unpleasant side effects, according to /r/conspiracy. The game is called Polybius, named for an ancient Greek historian, and seemingly manufactured by German developer Sinneslöschen (a bad German translation of ‘sensory deprivation.’) According to the legend, it was similar to Tempest, but also included imagery of crying women and haunting faces. Side effects of playing the game included nausea, headaches, nightmares, amnesia, and for some, suicide. Not only this, but there are reports that the cabinets would be mined for data by Men In Black. Some have tied the legendary game to the CIA’s mind control program, MKULTRA, which allegedly used various cultural outlets to seed ideas in people’s minds.
13 A Robotic Red Dawn
Just when you thought that Quake 3 story was spooky enough, I’ve got another for you. You see, Quake 3 isn’t the only game where bots have allegedly gained a low-level of intelligence. Reddit user sh4d0w18 created an offline game of Counter Strike 1.6, playing against bots. After they met their death at the hands of their cybernetic opponents, they appear to have got frustrated, and used the “bot_kill” command to kill all bots on the server. After this, their eyes drifted to the chatbox, where it appeared as though someone was typing, despite there only being one human in this game. A message popped up. A player name in Russian characters simply said “kill: console” then a message in Russian, followed by “kill.” No one had joined, and they insist no plugins were installed. So just who typed that message, and why were they so incensed about the “bot_kill” command?
12 The Case Of The Overly Attached NPC
Have you ever done the Arena questline in Oblivion? If you have, you’ll be familiar with the stalker who is the Adoring Fan. Pestering more than paparazzi, he’s a deeply annoying character who most simply kill. However, he’s not the only stalker in Oblivion, it seems. Redditor lapzkauz, upon creating a new game, would be approached by an NPC. No matter how many times they restarted, the NPC would approach. Would they offer advice? No, they would simply smile, silently. However, the subtitle would read “welcome to Pell’s Gate, friend.” Pell’s gate is a small hamlet, only used for one quest, and this dialogue is the canned line villagers give to you. What’s more, there was no mention of the stalker anywhere on the game’s wiki. Instead, it seems that whenever their character was created, the creepy NPC would begin making a beeline for them. Only to smile, and say nothing.
11 John Carpenter’s Ghosts Of Doom
The modding and level design scenes for the original Doom and Doom 2 was intense and vibrant, but occasionally, they could get the better of their masters. One designer, fruitcakefriday, built an atmospheric level, full of demonic glyphs, rustling leaves, the works. To add to the ambience, they marshaled enemies into a hidden room, inaccessible to the player, so their sound would still be heard. They also fitted a crusher to the room, so the sounds would be more random, as the player explored. When they began to playtest the level, they began to hear the sounds of an Arachnotron, getting louder. They’d escaped their prison. The monsters burst in through the wall, and could not be destroyed. The results weren’t pretty. It can apparently be explained with a known Doom glitch, but the idea of enemies getting angry at their treatment, and dashing to kill their creator is horrifying.
10 Watch The Sky
Have you ever heard of the Morrowind mod Jvk1166z.esp? If you’ve not, count yourself lucky. It was allegedly a mod that, when installed, would send your game nuts. Story-critical NPCs would die instantly, while this apparent plague continued to stalk the land, killing more and more people. At night, it would get even weirder: NPCs would go outside and stare at the sky. If they talked at all, all they would say is “watch the sky.” The story gets even weirder, with stories of a screaming Dark Brotherhood assassin materializing in the game and in real life, eventually presumably murdering the victim. Unfortunately for us, there is a Reddit community dedicated to recreating the mod: /r/watchtheskies. Hopefully, their release will include fewer demons and murder. The mod is currently still in development, but watch the sub to keep up to date with it, if you dare.
9 A Ghost’s Mario Paint Message
Mario Paint was a decent little utility for the SNES, allowing players to create pictures, stamps, animations, and music. However, for one Redditor, the game gave them something much more meaningful. _hellobethy powered up Mario Paint after getting it for their birthday, and, after a lengthy loading screen, they found something unexpected. The screen displayed the included image of a birthday cake, with the message “Happy Birthday Will! Love your Aunt Rene.” Said Aunt had died in a car crash a month before. Will, understandably freaked out, and switched the game off, never seeing the image again. Everyone involved denies that it was a prank, and when asked, their sister remembered the scene exactly as they did. Who knew games could bring families together from beyond the grave.
8 The Game That Knew Too Much
Another /r/Nosleep tale, the story of the secret NES game, Ladder To Oblivion, starts like a schoolyard boast of “my dad works at Nintendo,” but devolves into so much more. The game involves its protagonist finding a mysterious ladder, which, once it’s climbed, cannot be descended. Each stage gradually gets darker, and at the end of each one, you’ll fight someone who’s caused you harm in the past. Finally, you will fight a mirror image of yourself. The one who’s been causing you all this pain in the first place. The game changes depending on who plays it, and was described by the writer’s father as mesmerizing. Ultimately, all those behind it end up suffering a grim, Lovecraftian fate. They knew too much. Not in a conspiracy sense, but about themselves. Their sins. The final sentence reads: “Never climb the ladder. It knows.”
7 Hitting The Killswitch
While Polybius is quite a well-known legend, there’s another haunting legend which is far less renowned. The game was called Killswitch, and as this page on /r/cursedgames recounts, only 5000 copies were ever pressed. Released in 1989, allegedly by a Russian company called Karvina Corporation, it was a 2D horror game, where you control either a girl, Porto, or a ghost, Ghast. You could only complete the game as one character, as it would delete itself following completion. Porto was far easier to play as, so she was the most popular choice. It was thought that all copies had been bought, but one player, a Yamamoto Ryuichi, bought a copy for a substantial amount of cash, saying he’d record a playthrough. However, he only uploaded one video. Him, crying. It gets worse: there is substantial evidence that Karvina are a cult, referring to their twitter followers as Acolytes, with other players saying “they shouldn’t have seen it.”
6 The Illuminati Control Los Santos
GTA V loves to mess with its players. Maybe the best example of this is the ongoing Mount Chiliad mystery, which has a whole sub dedicated to solving it. If you go to the cable car station in Mount Chiliad, you’ll find a mural depicting locations of objects on the mountain, complete with the all-seeing Eye of Providence emerging from the mountain’s peak. If the map is overlaid on top of the in-game world, with Chiliad at the centre, the location of a UFO, an underwater hatch, and the hoped-for site of an in-game jetpack. A UFO will also appear over the mountain once the game is 100% completed. The symbolism goes further, however: SOS morse code can be heard from the Rebel Radio tower, an alien invasion is hinted at, as is the existence of Bigfoot. Whatever Rockstar are doing, it’s a fantastic ongoing mystery.
5 Drownings, Possessed AIs, And Ghostly Masks
I think we can all agree Majora’s Mask is a scary game, even when it’s normal. The creepy mask transformations and the terrifying moon were pure nightmare fuel, but in this story, it’s even creepier. If you’ve never read Ben Drowned, you owe it to yourself to check it out here: to summarize: the narrator buys a copy of MM from an old man, only to find it contains a save file, named BEN. Upon deleting the save, he finds no one will refer to his character by name. After performing a glitch to get an extra day in the game, he’s met with a floating skull kid in the final boss arena. Returning to the game, he finds all NPCs are gone, and the music has got…distinctly warped. The Happy Mask Salesman begins to appear in flashing images, statues follow the player, and it only goes downhill from there.
4 The Secret Key
Trials Evolution is almost certainly not the first game that leaps to mind when you think about complex ARGs, but it thoroughly deserves to. The ARG is…ridiculous. You had to do a secret maneuver to unlock a song. When the song is analyzed with spectral analysis (through Audacity/Adobe Audition,) Morse code is uncovered. The code led to a website, which contained a riddle, updated daily, made up of symbols, equations, and drawings. Now here’s where it gets creepy. When the code was deciphered, it read “big freeze with no complete end,” referring to an end of the universe theory. This, in turn, led to discovering four geocaches around the world, each containing a key. The four keys also came with a plate, referring to a box to be unlocked by one of FIVE keys, under the Eiffel Tower, in 2113. No one knows what will be there, when it does.
3 Nine, Four, Five, Four, Two Zero
Numbers stations. Let’s talk about ‘em. Secret shortwave radio broadcasts of people reading out numbers in a deadpan fashion, theorized to be a way for spies to communicate. It’s also theorized that there’s one in Fallout 3, broadcasting…grim messages for humanity. Allegedly, if Three Dog is killed, and Raven Rock destroyed, you can tune into GNR from certain locations, to hear Three Dog solemnly reading out numbers. These are followed by messages in Morse code. Some are mundane but out of universe, talking about Youtube. Others are far more daunting. It was later realized the numbers were dates, with one allegedly referring to Gary Coleman’s death, and the Gulf Oil spill, both occurring years after the game’s release. The final message is the scariest. “I can’t believe they’ve done it. Not long left,” seemingly prophesizing the world’s end. The date? July 6, 2027.
2 My Beautiful Dark Ascended Fantasy
Kanye West is known for his experimental approach to music production: but it also apparently vicariously crossed over, in a very weird way, to unofficial game Kanye Quest. The game revolves Kanye getting involved in a prophecy involving other noted rappers and cloning. It seems innocent enough. However, one player went back, and found scrambled messages encouraging them to worship “The Based God.” Another prompt asks you what you want to do. If you type “ascend,” the game teleports you to a previously unknown area. It tells you that by continuing, you will undergo a “thought exercise.” Eventually, it asks you for your name and address, telling you to “enjoy the next two weeks and await instruction.” Many have theorized it is genuinely a cult recruitment tool, allegedly, there genuinely is a cult group known as the Ascensionists. You can find out more here.
1 A Cutesy Game Hiding Dark Contents
Ben Drowned may be over and done with, but never fear: there’s a new spooktacular game/ARG to tune in to. The game is Petscop, which has a subreddit dedicated to unlocking its mysteries. On its surface, the game appears to be a simple creature-capturing game, but as it unravels, a deeper, and far darker game is revealed. If you go to a specific room, and press a combo of buttons, the player will find themselves in a dark area with a child’s grave, a girl who mimics the player’s actions, and references to rebirthing. Rebirthing is a deeply controversial therapy, which resulted in the tragic death of a child, Candace Newmaker, in 2000. It also appears that something, or someone, in the game is attempting to communicate with the player. If it’s an ARG, it’s one that’s taken a lot of work. I kind of hope it is, though.
Solomon is a UK-based writer with a passion for gaming and pop culture. When not working, he enjoys stylized ultraviolence, a life of petty crime, and surrealistic and psychedelic experiences. Coincidentally, his favorite games are Hotline Miami and GTA V.