1. The Kraken of Assassin's Creed II

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For a series that values its historical details to the point where it has introduced "tour guide" modes of play, the introduction of a mythological beast is a tremendously outside-of-the-box surprise. But that's exactly what make it so memorable: it just doesn't belong.

This isn't to say the series doesn't have other magical details. Sure, possessing an animal and time traveling through your own blood are both pretty ridiculous. As is hanging out with Da Vinci as the Q to your Bond. It's not... it's not a textbook, okay. But it isn't Pirates of the Caribbean either.

So later in the game when you enter a specific tomb, you can flip and switch while solving a different puzzle. Then something happens in the water beneath you. What's that? Yeah. It's a Kraken.

What is it doing in Renaissance era Italy under the a city? Who knows? It's a Kraken. It does what it wants. It's also imaginary. Why do you have so many questions?

It comes back again in Ass Creed 4, which makes much more sense in a pirate game than in Rome. Though seeing it destroy a shark through the window of a sunken ship doesn't make it any less creepy.

Here's hoping the Kraken becomes the unofficial mascot of the series.



2. The ghost that haunts GTA V

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The Grand Theft Auto series is no stranger to unspeakably strange myths -- some of which are real, like the UFO that litters the entirety of GTA V with its broken parts, and conversely the sasquatch that is rumored to stalk GTA IV but has never been proven. There's are whole sites dedicated to myths from the GTA universe. And, then of course, there's "Hot Coffee" which spawned one of the biggest gaming lawsuits of all time. So, there's a lot to pay attention to in this world. The sheer number of myths that still haven't been proven either way from multiple titles speaks to Rockstar's ability to keep us guessing.

GTA: V has its own serial killer Zodiac style hunt for you to take on, as you follow a madman's demented clues. Perhaps related to this hunt is the story of a woman named Jolene Cranley-Evans who was married to a stuntman named John "Jock" Cranley. Or at least Jock wanted to be a stuntman, but his wife was holding him back. That's kind of the vibe we get from their sad story, part of which you can read in old newspaper clippings.

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As the story goes, the pair went for a peaceful stroll by the cliffside and she never came back. Jock was cleared for the murder. She was... dead.

Was.

Now, at certain points in the night on Mt. Gordo, you can find a rock splattered with blood that spells out JOCK.

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Around this point, Jolene will come out to say hello.

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And this is where we say goodbye.


3. Xbox Dashboard Hidden Messages

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If you left your original Xbox on the dashboard for long enough, there's a weird message that can wind up coming through your speakers. It's not immediately clear whether it's a hidden message for spies or just an audio guy's idea of a creepy joke:

In the last few years, some folks finally managed to crack the code. These are actually recordings of the Apollo's communications with NASA which the team took from public domain files. Apparently, someone thought turning these ghostly remnants loose on your psyche in the middle of the night would be hilarious. I liked this one better unsolved.


4. Hitman's terrifying, killable ghost

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The Hitman franchise is all about making the living into the unliving, so it stands to reason that on at least one occasion, the reverse might happen. In the mission Traditions of the Trade, there's a closed wing of the hotel you can investigate. In one of the rooms, if you stare long enough, a ghost will materialize in front of you. I mean, that is what you get for staring. Be more polite, Agent 47.  

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That's the ghost. It's probably a little more exciting if you stumbled onto this by accident, but how many players just happen to idle while looking in the right direction long enough to trigger this? 

Hilariously, you can kill the ghost and drag the body around, just like any other character you might dispatch in the game.

To be clear, you don't need to do this because the ghost is not going to attack you. And yes, if guards see you dragging around a big lump of ectoplasm, they will sound the alarm. Losing a mission over dragging a ghost's "body" is frustrating and nonsensical, which makes it fall right in line with Hitman's trademark shenanigans.


5. No More Heroes' slow motion horror story

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If you've never given No More Heroes or its sequel your time, it is well worth digging out and dusting off your Wii just to experience. Travis Touchdown lives out a bloody, adult revenge story complete with a metric ton of meta-jokes about the medium and gamer culture; you literally save your game when you take a dump. Not sure if that's particularly a satire of gamer culture so much as a really dumb joke, but it's still a brutal set of games.

At the conclusion of the first game, you finally get your showdown with Jeane. She killed your parents and started you down this road as a professional assassin. When you finally get her cornered she wants to explain what her motivation is, but you ever the gamer, doesn't want to waste time on a cutscene. So it happens in fast-forward.

But you have the option to rewatch is later in slow motion. And when you do, oh wow is the story she has to share dark. We're talking pitch black. 

 I get why they couldn't get this passed in a Nintendo game. Even one where you're constantly cutting people in half.



6. The creepy revelation that changes Silent Hill 2 completely

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Sure, the idea of following the instructions in a letter from your dead wife is the set-up for a fun, happy-go-lucky adventure in an abandoned town haunted by the ghosts of your sexual repression. But even having played the game a dozen times, I've never noticed that most of the bodies around town are actually James. I don't mean the monster and other corpses that you create, but the overwhelming number of the other bodies, while often missing faces or heads, share James' fashion sense. Does this mean James is stuck in a loop of the events here? Is Silent Hill 2 actually a roguelike? How did I not see this before?

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Silent Hill 2 has just as many great scares as any other game in the series, but it really outdoes itself on the mind games and the thematic details. A pile of dead Jameses (Jamesii) everywhere you go only serves to make the impossibility of your task more obvious. It one of the many small aspects that you don't have to understand to still get the full effect.



8. The unsettling spies of Mario games

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The Mario franchise is not without its share of scary moments. Some were just early gaming tid-bits where a choice or event got under your skin because it was so bizarre or nonsensical. How does the Dinosaur Monster spit fire across entire levels and through walls? And of course Mario's ghosts were among the first that could pursue a video game character relentlessly, no matter where they tried to hide. (Yes, I mean the actual ghost characters, not the ghosts of Mario's dark past. But also, he definitely bailed on a plumbing company leaving customers in peril. That's not for today, though.)

While the House inspired man-eating piano in Mario 64 remains among the best jump scares in early gaming, there's a moment in a much more modern title that doesn't pack the same punch of sheer terror but it's mysterious, weird, and never explained.

In Super Mario Galaxy 2 for the Wii, there's a shift in the game post-Shiverburn, and everything starts to become much more complicated, and there is a very real sense that the universe is trying to kill you. Then, you notice that you have an audience.

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Referred to in the game code as "HellValleySkyTree" these are the perhaps god-like creatures with bizarre, disconnected bodies, watching you from the heavens.

There are a few theories about what's happening here. One theory is that this level was named Hell Valley in the beta and this art work wound up left over. You have to go out to the woods and enter first person mode to even see them, so it makes sense that this might not have been an intentional inclusion. The best in-world theory is that these are benevolent aliens, much like yourself, watching Mario from afar for entertainment.

Then again, that doesn't explain the ghost that shows up in Super Mario 3D Land, fading into frame about half a minute after you finish a haunted house level.

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Ghosts, aliens, michevious developers spying on with players via astral projection -- whatever these things are, one thing is clear: They're watching you right now.