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Game Details You Never Realized Were So Dark

Most modern video games are expected to have in-depth storylines. Even games like Limbo, which have no real explanation or conclusion, have a rich, detailed plot that you simply have to figure out yourself. And many modern gamers have come to expect that things in video games aren't always exactly what they seem. Even sweet games like Slime Rancher and Stardew Valley can have dark secrets that aren't immediately obvious.

Easter eggs in games usually come with some backstory or explanation. But certain small details are darker than you may realize. And while some things may seem innocent enough, they're actually linked to a more sinister meaning. From Vault Boy's iconic thumbs up to the mental well-being of the citizens of Pelican Town, these hidden meanings will show you that sometimes you need to dig a little deeper to see what things truly mean. And sometimes you shouldn't take anything at face value.

Here are a few game details you never realized were so dark.

Fallout's Vault Boy isn't encouraging you

There are a few things that come to mind when you think about the Fallout franchise. Trading bottle caps is one. And the iconic mascot of the series, Vault Boy, is another. But unlike the first, the latter isn't nearly as innocent as you might think. The happy smile and encouraging thumbs up suggest that there's nothing sinister behind his image, but many players don't realize that he's not giving you a thumbs up at all: he's trying to weigh his odds of survival.

During the Cold War, there was a widely held belief that you could measure whether or not you were in the safe zone of a nuclear bomb's radiation by using your thumb. With one eye closed and your thumb held up in front of you, any mushroom cloud smaller than your thumb was a safe distance away, while one taller than your thumb was dangerously close. And when you realize that Vault Boy is actually trying to determine if he's deadly close to a blast or not, it makes his iconic gesture a lot less cute and a lot more ominous.

GLaDOS killed children in Portal 2

It's no secret that the sentient AI GLaDOS from Portal and Portal 2 isn't the nicest character. As your play through various tests, she constantly mocks you, lies to you, and tries to get you killed. And while most players have a bit of a love-hate relationship with the murderous robot, it's safe to say that no one would be shocked to learn of an ominous subtext where she's concerned. 

Through Portal 2, if you are really paying attention, you'll begin to pick up on hints about what went wrong with GLaDOS in the first place. You learn from her that she flooded the Enrichment Center with a deadly neurotoxin and killed many of the scientists there, but the story gets even darker than that the more you dig. When Wheatley leads you through the "Bring Your Daughter to Work Day" science fair, he says that it "did not end well." And as you piece together the story bit by bit, it's revealed that GLaDOS flooded the Enrichment Center with neurotoxin on Bring Your Daughter to Work Day. Mean jokes and possibly fatal tests are one thing, but child murder is a whole new level.

There's a sad side story in BioShock 2

The BioShock franchise has no shortage of dark imagery and cautionary symbolism. But if you push aside the sometimes heavy-handed didactic narratives, you'll find that there are dozens of side stories that are easy to miss. Unless players are willing to listen to and piece together each of the audio diaries scattered throughout BioShock 2, it's very possible that you missed one of the darkest. 

Mark Meltzer was a father searching for his missing daughter Cindy. As you find audio diaries from him, you'll learn that his daughter was kidnapped from the beach and brought to Rapture as part of the Little Sister program. Mark followed the clues to Rapture and eventually found Cindy, but it was too late. Cindy was a Little Sister. Because Rapture is a closed city, Meltzer wasn't allowed to leave, but was given an option by Dr. Sofia Lamb to be with Cindy as her guardian if he agreed to become a Big Daddy. The saddest part is the fact that you ultimately end up killing Mark and finding his final audio diary before he made the transition.

Slime Rancher is turning you into a monster

Of the many games dominating the community these days, there is one that you wouldn't expect to find any dark subtext in: Slime Rancher. This adorable ranching sim is so sweet and innocent that it's hard to imagine anything going on behind the scenes. But the more you look at the game, the more you begin to realize that it has slowly but surely turned you into a monster. 

With the happy faces of your slimes constantly smiling up at you with trust in their eyes, it's easy to see yourself as the hero of the game. You work hard and use your pioneering spirit to succeed in a foreign environment. But you don't realize that you've become a heartless profiteer until it's too late. What started out as a sweet game about bouncy slimes has now turned into a capitalist nightmare. You'll shove as many slimes into a pen as you need to in order to meet your bottom line. You'll even incinerate innocent slimes as soon as they stop being useful to you. It turns out you were the real monster all along.

The citizens of Stardew Valley aren't happy

Stardew Valley is a game about building up a farm, developing relationships, and saving a small town from a big corporation. And with the start of each new season, you're able to experience all the festivities Pelican Town has to offer. But when each new year starts, you might also notice that the town festivities seem to reset. Call this a gaming mechanic if you'd like, but it seems like Pelican Town might just be stuck in a time loop.

Each villager will repeat their lines of dialogue from the year before. It would be easy to chalk this up to a game limitation, but the more you look at the evidence, the more it seems like Pelican Town may be trapped in time. This would also explain why so many of the town's residents are emotionally damaged. From Shane being a depressed alcoholic, to Sebastien's wish that he could leave the city one day, to Penny's abusive home life, the citizens of this seemingly sweet town aren't nearly as happy as you'd expect. The only explanation is that their state of limbo has taken a toll on them.

World of Warcraft pays tribute to horror movies

World of Warcraft is notorious for hiding pop culture references in every possible corner of the game. And while WoW has no shortage of creepy Easter eggs, there's one that stands out for being much darker than you might realize at first. In fact, it gets worse and worse the more you examine it.

The six children found in the Elwynn Forest are relatively infamous by this point in WoW's history. They are six children that wander around Stormwind, Goldshire, and Elwynn. There also happens to be six empty graves in a cemetery near Goldshire, suggesting that the children crawled out of them. The cherry on top, however, is the fact that the children stand in the second story of a home located beside Crystal Lake. For those who aren't horror fans, it may be easy to forget that Crystal Lake is the ill-fated camp from the horror movie Friday the 13th. The leather-working and skinning trainers on the first floor of the home are just the perfect final detail for this complex homage to horror.

Pokemon Black and White is hiding a ghost story

Pokemon games have had their fair share of urban legends and ghost stories over the years. The backstories for half of the Pokemon in your Pokedex are nightmare fuel in and of themselves. And for a game that's supposed to be kid-friendly, it definitely doesn't shy away from introducing a number of ghosts in the series.

On the Marvelous Bridge in Pokemon Black and White, a ghost girl will appear and disappear if you get too close to her. The NPC who was standing beside her will point out the phenomenon to you. If you do a bit of digging through three different Pokemon games, you'll find that the ghost is actually a young girl who was put into an eternal nightmare by the Pokemon Darkrai. She is now trapped in this eternal darkness, and her parents are desperately trying to find something to help bring her out of it. You are sent on a quest to find a Cresselia feather, which they believe will help to wake her up, but by the time you obtain it, it's already too late. The girl is stuck in the nightmare forever.

The McClellan home in Fallout 3 is an homage

The environment in Fallout 3 isn't necessarily one you'd want to visit in real life. One area gamers will encounter, the McClellan home, has signs of an obvious story if you venture inside. You can see the remains of a child, two parents, and a family pet. Their glorified servant robot named Mister Handy will even try to carry out basic tasks as if the family were still alive. 

But one of the more profound details comes when you instruct Mister Handy to read a story to the young son who has long since passed away. Mister Handy will read the poem "There Will Come Soft Rains" by Sara Teasdale. It isn't until he starts reading that you realize this entire household is just a representation of the plot of the short story by Ray Bradbury of the same name, which itself contains the poem. It's about a family killed in an atomic bomb blast. The smart home has no idea that the human inhabitants of the home are dead and continues to carry out chores as if nothing had happened. And the unfeeling electronics that long outlive the residents of the home continue to do their jobs with no knowledge of the demise of their former owners.

The opening scene isn't the only dark thing in The Last of Us

The Last of Us is a game that intentionally tugs on your heartstrings. It's easy to get invested in the father-daughter relationship between Ellie and Joel. And while the two do manage to survive to the end of the game, there are still plenty of difficult encounters along the way. The heartwrenching opening scene alone is one that has gone down in the books. But there's another dark detail that could be easily missed by casual players. 

While exploring an abandoned building in the chapter "The Suburbs," you can find a room with several corpses inside. There is a group of children and a man, all dead. Written on the floor are the words "They didn't suffer," suggesting that the adult in the room had to put the children out of their misery. You can also find a message left by the man, stating that if it came down to it, and he or the children became infected, he'd kill them quickly so that they wouldn't have to suffer long term. Though his actions had noble intentions, they're still incredibly sad.

The GTA 5 ghost has an even darker backstory than you thought

Grand Theft Auto 5 is full of interesting optional side stories that you can either choose to ignore or investigate. Near a large flat rock on Mount Gordo, from 11 p.m. to midnight, you'll be able to see the ghostly apparition of a woman appear. The ghost doesn't interact with you at all, but she will disappear if you get too close to her. But who is this ghost, and why does she haunt Mount Gordo?

On the rock beneath her, the name "Jock" is written in what appears to be blood. This has led clever players to uncover the truth behind the ghost. Jolene Cranley-Evans was the wife of Jock Cranley. One day, while he and his wife were hiking Mount Gordo, Cranley decided to push his wife over the edge of the cliff. She hadn't approved of their move to Los Santos, and for this, she lost her life. Her husband, however, was never charged with her murder, because there wasn't enough evidence to convict him. And so, Jolene's ghost appears every night with her husband's name, calling for justice.

The head crab zombies in Half-Life 2 aren't as alien as you think

Half-Life 2 has its fair share of dark things hidden throughout the story. And while many of the creatures you encounter are scary enough, one of them is even worse than you may have thought. After all, if you kill the alien parasite, are you also killing an innocent human host? 

It's hard to be sure if the human is still in there somewhere, or if the head crab has taken over so fully that the thing it's feeding off of is no longer a person in any sense. But a message hidden in the character design for the head crab-controlled zombies reveals a dark secret. If you play the zombie audio backwards, you'll actually be able to hear the human hosts begging for help. This means that on some level, the hosts are still aware of what's happening and what they've become.

Hitman: Contracts is hiding a ghost in plain sight

The Hitman franchise is dark all by itself. And because Agent 47 is so good at what he does, it's unlikely that any of his many murders are ever traced back to him, making him something of a ghost. But besides the bald barcoded assassin, there's a real ghost to be found in Hitman: Contracts

During the "Traditions of the Trade" mission, it's possible for Agent 47 to spy a wandering spirit in the corridors, though the easiest way to find the spirit is in the bathroom of the murder room. If you enter this bathroom, you'll find a bathtub filled with blood. Staring into the mirror, a ghost will eventually appear above the tub. Though the ghost doesn't actually attack the player, its presence is ominous. And, oddly enough, it is possible for Agent 47 to kill the ghost. If you manage to spot him in the corridor, you can use a fiber wire to take him out. If the bathroom is where you find him, you can use a gun to kill him, which will earn you the achievement "Ghostbuster." But even with his popularity in the Hitman fandom, the identity of the ghost isn't known.

Animal Crossing: New Leaf's televisions has a dark secret

When you think of dark games, Animal Crossing isn't usually the first thing that comes to mind. But in the 2012 release Animal Crossing: New Leaf, players began to notice some weird coincidences popping up surrounding the number 3. There are 333 different villagers in the game, which, in and of itself, isn't too eerie. But when you combine that with a phenomenon that can be found at 3:33 a.m. in the game, things start to get weird.

If you stand in front of the TV in Animal Crossing: New Leaf at 3:33 a.m., an alien will appear on the screen. He'll speak in a static-y foreign language for a moment before the screen reverts to normal at exactly 3:34. This odd alien Easter egg is eerie to say the least. But the recurrence of the number 333 is also troubling. Often used as a mockery of the holy trinity, the number three is a staple in many horror movies and urban legends. So it only makes sense that the spooky happenings in Animal Crossing would revolve around that number.

Silent Hill 2 has some familiar corpses

It's not uncommon to find dark imagery hidden throughout the Silent Hill games. The entire franchise is built on an air of mystery and ominous foreboding. So most discoveries inside the game come with a bit of a disturbing backstory. But some details in the franchise are even darker than you may have realized at first.

The streets in the town of Silent Hill are littered with garbage, debris, and, most unsettling, bodies. Silent Hill 2 is no exception. The set dressing would be dark enough for most people. But it wasn't dark enough for Konami. In many areas in the second Silent Hill game, the corpses that litter the ground are identical to the protagonist, James Sunderland. Sunderland would be forgiven for not noticing the resemblance between himself and the corpses, since he's probably distracted by his search for his wife. But eagle-eyed gamers have spotted the similarity. So are the corpses actually other versions of James? Or are they simply illusions to aid his dark descent into madness?