Have you ever heard the saying, we're all a little bit crazy? I don't know about you, but "a little bit" might be an understatement, especially within the world of videogames. While virtual protagonists often reflect the absolute best that humanity has to offer, heroes have their fair share of mental afflictions. The body is easy to heal, but the mind is much more fragile. Whether super-powered or ordinary, no individual can bear the weight of the world indefinitely without feeling the pressure. Talk about tons of baggage.
Mysterious pasts, the deaths of loved ones, and foreboding prophecies are just the tip of the iceberg in the realm of gaming. It's no wonder so many champions of justice experience some form of mental collapse. From nightmares and hallucinations, to visions and delusions, it's pretty safe to say that craziness is not uncommon. All it takes is a catalyst to re-open a deep fear, doubt, or memory, and BOOM we as the players get to take a trip down illusionary lane complete with peculiar happenings, bizarre plot twists and more.
Below are some of my favorite dreams and moments of insanity from videogames with a varied mix of hilarity, abruptness, and even moments of trepidation. Warning there are some minor spoilers throughout.
Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty - Turn off the game Raiden!!!
Scrape together all of the bizarre, hilarious, and confusing thoughts that you can muster, and fashion them into a particularly wacky scenario. Add a dash of nudity and the ramblings of a rogue AI, and what are you left with? Arguably one of the strangest scenes in the entire Metal Gear series. A butt-naked Raiden is bombarded with continual calls from an advanced artificial intelligence that has been infected with a debilitating virus. Crazy Colonel as I like to call him, covers a multitude of topics while in his fanatical state, from alien abductions to irritant plant juice.
In an especially creepy encounter, his speech deviates from the randomness aimed at Raiden and shifts to a command intended for the player. "Raiden, turn the game console off right now. The mission is a failure. Cut the power right now." I know that I am not the only one who actually considered turning the system off at that very moment.
Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess - Screaming ... eerie screaming
Link has always been a relatively reserved guy. Besides a set of exclamations and fighting sounds, the boy clad in green is about as laid back as they come. Behind those baby blue eyes is the perseverance of a champion ... or the thoughts of a madman. Considering that the hero is continually reincarnated from one generation to the next, forced to battle the evils of the world for all eternity, it's no wonder he finally snapped.
Upon reaching Lake Hylia Spring in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Link cleanses the region of darkness that has entrenched the area. He then falls into a dream-like state that begins rather informatively; backstory is revealed and the player is enlightened with a deeper understanding of the narrative.
In traditional nightmare fashion however, the vision takes a drastic turn for the worse and Link is joined with the company of dark doppelgangers, complete with glowing eyes and eerie screaming. Not only was Link puzzled by the revelation, upon viewing the scene, I too was struck by the disturbing nature of the dream. I don't know exactly what the craziness means, but it's certainly not what you expect from the tried-and-true Zelda formula.
Batman: Arkham Asylum - I am vengeance, I am the night, I am Gasman
Batman is a beast among men, there is no doubt about it. When an average person is pitted face-to-face against his innermost demons, he crumbles under the weight. The Dark Knight, on the other hand, punches his deepest fears in the face. After being exposed to the Scarecrow's signature fear gas in Batman: Arkham Asylum, Bruce Wayne's most painful memories, worries, and regrets are given a life of their own, taking physical form with a single purpose of crippling Gotham's savior.
Batman relives the deaths of his parents multiple times, defeating nightmarish versions of the Scarecrow in each encounter. He is pumped with enough crazy juice to kill an elephant but he somehow manages to trek onward. The cat and mouse game is finally trumped thanks to an unlikely source, Killer Croc, who literally takes a bite out of crime.
Far Cry 3 - Giant slaying with a side of fornication?
What would you do to save your friends from murderous, slave-trafficking pirates? Cali boy Jason Brody goes above and beyond to fulfill the role of a hero in Far Cry 3. Unfortunately, privileged immaturity does not bode well against an island riddled with danger in the form of wild animals, homicidal pirates, and a mysterious tribal faction. Brody aligns with the latter camp, and his quest of rescue slowly evolves into a pursuit of revenge.
In a rite of passage ritual, Brody is tested as a true Rakyat warrior. After chugging a ceremonial drink, the ancient temple exudes a darker more intimidating aura. Then an enormous red-faced shadow creature emerges front and center. Foreshadowing at its finest. With only a bow in hand, the drug-induced Brody must battle toe-to-toe with the beast while dodging dark projectiles, and assault from shadow-men. Are you wondering what his body is doing while his mind is engaged in mental gymnastics? Getting down and dirty with Citra. Talk about tripping balls.
Ni No Kuni - Girl you're crazy
If this list conveys any message at all, it's that the mind is capable of crazy things. Loneliness is an especially potent catalyst of mental instability, one that can manifest in a variety of ways including multiple personalities. What better way to counteract isolation than talking to oneself?
In a narrative of great sadness and good intentions gone bad, Queen Casseopeia of Ni No Kuni accidentally altered the entirety of her kingdom into mindless monsters. With the population of sentient citizens reduced to absolute zero, Casseopeia vowed to sit in waiting upon her ghastly throne until someone came to free her from inadvertent, self-induced seclusion.
Days became months, months became years, and the empire was eventually lost to the hands of time. The queen of a once prosperous nation, the daughter of the legendary Wizard King, was reduced to a bitter shell of her former self. Driven mad by solitude, she created not one, not two, but over 12 different personalities to help alleviate the sting of separation.
While many of these mental actors were united under an evil agenda, a few actually came to the aid of the protagonist, helping him to put an end to the ruler turned tragic figure. So she was talking to herself the whole time?! Yes, yes she was. If having a dozen cerebral characters isn't enough to strongly suggest lunacy, their bickering and disparate goals are icing on the nutty cake.
Fallout 3 - Swamp plants and psychedelics
If there is an award for gullibility, the Lone Wanderer in Fallout 3 might take the prize. In order to appease a tribal cult leader, he is ordered to traverse a sacred bog, slay mutated crab monsters, and retrieve the mother of all fruits. Sounds simple enough, but is it ever that easy? Approaching the vegetation causes hallucinogenic gas to spew from the plant, resulting in the player falling unconscious. This is where the fun begins.
As my character came to, I remember thinking, "Oh, I guess nothing happened" until I began heading towards the exit. In a flurry of weirdness, the seemingly ordinary swamp is overwhelmed by random events. Collectable Bobbleheads featuring disheartening inscriptions become littered across the terrain, a camouflaged saw can be seen floating in the air, baby-sounding explosions detonate without warning, needle and thread stitch the ground in a sewing motion, and oh yeah, you see the Lone Wanderer's mom as a skeleton in a pointy birthday hat.
WTF is an understatement. Adding to the weirdness, while you were dozing by the Mother Punga tree prior to the psychedelic trip-out is that someone sliced your head open and removed a large chunk of your brain. I guess he's physically and mentally scarred for life.
Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception - Drugs drugs and more drugs
Treasure hunting in remote corners of the world is a hazardous pastime. Doing so while under the influence of hallucinogenic drugs is even more so. During multiple instances in Uncharted 3, Nathan Drake experiences strange visions. Twice after being shot in the neck with a dart, again while stranded in the desert. Drake even enters a delirious state after drinking the water. I've heard about Montezuma's revenge but diarrhea is nothing in comparison to temporary insanity.
Fighting an entire private army is much more difficult to handle when the mercenaries shoot fireballs, and teleport, that's for sure.
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion - Madness incarnate
The entire Shivering Isles DLC in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion immerses players into the epitome of lunacy. Split into two lands, Mania and Dementia, the realm of insanity is ruled by none other than the Daedric Prince of Madness, Sheogorath. With a title like that, you can expect enough absurdity to last a lifetime. Rather than a specific incidence of hallucinatory psychosis, the entirety of the narrative, including the world, is surrounded in unusual happenings.
Sheogorath quests the Champion of Cyrodiil to defeat the evil lord Jyggalag who makes an appearance every era by conquering the land. In a series of events, it is revealed that Jyggalag is actually the Daedric Prince of Order and Sheogorath's true form. Cursed long ago by god-like beings, the master of order was forced to live as madness incarnate for all eternity; becoming his true form only sparingly. Who sounds crazy now?
Dead Space 2 - The worst relationship ever
Struggling to survive against an onslaught of reanimated corpses is a challenging feat. Any false move or lapse in concentration can easily fulfill a death wish. At least they're usually slow, mindless drones. Unfortunately, the Dead Space franchise doesn't feature run-of-the-mill zombies. Necromorphs are more like grotesque, appendage mishmashes with brains and brawn to boot. If the enemies weren't bad enough, battling insanity while exploring infested terrain surely adds to the intensity.
Due to exposure with numerous alien artifacts, Issac's brain became imprinted with an alien code that causes him to experience an assortment of odd visions, voices, and images. The most common of which is a reoccurring hallucination of his deceased girlfriend. Out of the three installments of the series, Dead Space 2 definitely takes the cake in showcasing the Marker's influence over the mind.
The guilt associated with Nicole's death consumes Isaac who is unable to accept the loss and move on. Though he is able to "reconcile" with the illusion, thus reconciling with himself, overcoming the vision is not a simple feat. Stalking, choking, and attempted stabbing were all in Nicole's repertoire of tactics, only defensible with sudden button-mashing frenzies. Domestic abuse is never funny ... even if it's between a guy and his own brain.
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater - Face your deeds in the river of death
With two entrants from the same series, I'm sure you can tell that I'm a huge Metal Gear fan. The mix of history-rich story, extremely diverse characters, and the tone of seriousness flavored with hilarity is exactly why I hold the franchise in such high regards. Rather than leading with the humor theme, The Sorrow fight in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater joins the ranks of Twilight Princess and Dead Space in category creepy.
After jumping off of a dauntingly high waterfall, Snake awakens in a ghastly spirit realm personified as an endless river. The Sorrow explains to Big Boss that he would be forced to walk down the waterway for all eternity so that he could, "feel the sorrow of those whose lives he had ended." As a player who went absolutely knife crazy on just about every grunt in the entire jungle, that's a whole lot of sadness on my part.
Every enemy that was slain appeared before Snake in the chilling landscape. Soldiers screaming in pain, some on fire, and plenty grasping at their necks from slice wounds pressed onward, appearing exactly as they did upon their deaths. Upon finishing the spirit walk, players are able to return to the land of the living, but not without deeper insight into how The Sorrow actually died. Spooky, deep, and all-around creative for a trip into the afterlife.
Other notable favorites:
Catherine - Daily nightmares
Mass Effect 3 - Child visions
Heavy Rain - Madison's nightmare
Spec Ops: The Line - Ending