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10 Video Game Levels & Missions Messed With Your Brain - Elden Ring Leyndell Catacomnbs, Earthbound Mu Traiding & More

7/31/2022 9:29:22 AM

Many missions in video games are straightforward and normal. Today we are going to be talking 10 missions that messed with your brain.

 Elden Ring Leyndell Catacomnbs


10 Video Game Levels & Missions Messed With Your Brain

  • Leyndell Catacombs - Elden Ring

Starting off with number 10, the Leyndell Catacombs in Elden Ring. It's a game that normally plays it pretty straight with you. Sure, it can be obscure and mysterious sometimes, but it almost never does anything to really mess with your head. The only major exception though is the Leyndell Catacombs. The only way to even reach this place is first go through a large portion of sewers. Already a massive and confusing location. So when you get there, it's already disorienting. You're already confused. You're already somewhat lost, probably a little frustrated at this point. Nothing about the dungeon seems out of the ordinary at first, but as you go through it, eventually you get to a point where you just end up back at the beginning where you started. Only, this time, you're seemingly trapped. The exit door that was previously there is now walled off, so you're forced to go through the dungeon again, only now it's different. Enemies are in different locations, there's a monster here and there that's actually mourning a monster you killed in a previous loop, along with a few other changes. In total, it's not that crazy, but if you've been playing this game for hours on end, through the already paranoia-inducing sewers, you might notice that you've stumbled into a P.T.-style dungeon out of nowhere, and it might freak you out a bit. A big reason it's so effective is there's nothing else like it in the whole game. 


  • Break on Through - Black Ops: Cold War

The black ops games tend to be pretty trippy by the end of their respective campaigns, but none of 'em get quite as brain-bending as the 13th campaign mission. Just trying to explain what's supposed to be happening is making the brain hurt. But the gist of it is that the CIA is implanting memories into your brain to try to get you to reveal the location of a Soviet agent named Perseus. How this works is that your handler, a guy named Adler, recounts a time when your character was in Vietnam. As the story goes along, you're free to either choose to follow the stuff he's saying or go your own way. Regardless of what you choose, the scenario repeats multiple times, each time getting just a little stranger. In one sequence you fight an army of Adlers. In another, you get swamped by zombies right out of Treyarch's zombies mode. It's basically Call of Duty's answer to the Stanley parable. And while it's not the craziest thing to occur on this list, the fact that it's a major level in what is usually straightforward Call of Duty military stuff, it's surprising. 


  • The Scarecrow Sequences - Batman: Arkham Asylum

Back when the game first came out, there's three scarecrow sequences in total, but two are really mind-bending, the first and the third. The first one occurs in the morgue, where Batman gets a dose of the fear toxin and hallucinates Jim Gordon's death. At this point of the series, everything was possible, so it wasn't far fetched to imagine them killing him here. It gets creepier though. The only way to progress is to exit through the door you came in from was pretty trippy. But the part that really messes with people's heads is that final scarecrow encounter. This one doesn't just try to scare Batman. It tries to scare the player. First by triggering a fake freeze, followed by the game resetting. This time, Batman's been replaced with the Joker during the prologue. And at the end of the section, Joker shoots Batman with a game over screen and everything.


  • Vault 106 - Fallout 3

Like Elden Ring, for the most part, Fallout 3 just plays it straight. So when it gets weird, wow, does it stand out. This is one of the creepiest vaults in the entire series. Vault 106, the one with all the psychoactive drugs in the air. When you enter, the place is filled with insane survivors who attack you on sight. Something that's not completely unexpected. But what's surprising is, when you go deeper into the vault and you find out the gas that was used to make everybody in the vault go nuts, it's still there. So you start to experience visions of people like your father, Amata and the overseer from Vault 101. Some of these visions even try to attack you near the end, where the Tunnel Snakes appear to fight you. There's stranger ones too, like one area where you can see a room that appears upside down and you read computer terminals, you can sometime find hallucinated messages directed at the player. Combine that with a dark and creepy atmosphere these vaults all have, and it's a pretty unpleasant experience that will mess with your head. 


  • Under the Windmill - The Witness

There are many parts of The Witness that could qualify for a list like this. Tons of crazy, mind bending puzzles that make you feel like your brain's expanding, when you finally manage to solve them. When you find out that you can draw lines anywhere, not just the white puzzle boards, it can feel like your brain just totally exploded. That's pretty wild as it is, but the game manages to take even that concept a step further. Under the Windmill you can find a projector room that plays various movies. These movies seem like they're just a reward, like you have to find special codes hidden around the island to unlock them. When you get really deep into the game, then you start to realize there's gotta be more to them. And yeah, it's on the list, so there, of course, is more to them. Occasionally, some of the videos you can see these circles, and if you manage to get the timing right, you can actually draw a line from the film to complete a secret puzzle. There isn't even just one. There's multiple secret puzzles hidden in these videos. It's basically like you're solving a puzzle in the real world. There's a reason there's so many of these videos seeing The Witness style puzzles all over the place in real life, because the game basically trains you into doing it. It's one of those situations where the game isn't just messing with your brain, it's kind of expanding it. You never really look at the world quite the same way after getting too deep into The Witness. 


  • Mu Training - Earthbound

There's one moment in the game that's particularly strange however, and it's burned into the memories of anyone who has played it. When you first meet the fourth party member, a character whose default name is Prince Poo, you have to undergo a sequence known as Moo Training. Goal is simple. You sit on top of a mountain and ignore all distractions. You'd think that'd be pretty easy, but the game goes a long way to try to trick you into making a mistake and ending it early. Character tells you to end your meditating immediately. Of course, obviously that's a trick. If you actually stop, you have to restart. It gets a little trickier after that though. The screen turns dark and a spirit appears and says it'll take your arms and legs. If you don't want to fail, you have to say yes to that. 


  • The Countdown Ending - The Stanley Parable

For a game as famous for messing with the player as this one, there actually isn't a lot of mind-bending stuff here. Usually the game plays pretty fair with what you can and can't do. It's limited, what actually happens, and some of the endings are a little unexpected, but it never really lies to you, outside of this ending. This ending it lies to you in. It's actually one of the most basic ones. So it's the one that a lot of players get early. And it's probably the meanest of all of them, when you look back on it. To trigger it, you have to get the mind control machine you find by following the narrator's instructions. But instead of turning it off, like the narrator tells you to, you get this ending and you turn it on. That triggers the countdown ending, where the game gives you two minutes to run around the control room and try to figure out a way to turn off the countdown that ends in your death. There's buttons, keyboards, and various controls all over the place. And they all seem like they should do something, but the whole thing's a trick. There is nothing that you can do. That's what makes the ending so bleak. The game's messing with your head. It gives you the room to run around and press buttons and do things. And none of it matters. Even with the narrator literally telling you that nothing can be done, it still feels like you should be doing something. Why else would they put all the buttons there? Eventually somebody just opened up the game files and confirmed that the buttons have absolutely no purpose, confirming what the game was telling us. Again, it's a game that doesn't really lie to you a whole lot. It can be mean, but it doesn't really lie. It's a gamers instinct to look for secrets though, and this ending takes advantage of that. There's even some new dialogue if you play it again, where the narrator makes fun of you for thinking you could get a different outcome this time. Sometimes all it takes to mess with the brain is a puzzle with no solution. 


  • Lilith.pk3 - Doom

Sometimes missions and levels, they don't have to trick you to mess with your head. They just have to be disorienting, frustrating, and intentionally unpleasant. And that's enough to get the old brain chemistry a little unbalanced. Lilith.pk3, probably the purist distillation of that idea. It's an aggressively unpleasant series of levels for Doom designed to drive players nuts, not by messing with their inputs or pulling tricks on them, but by breaking the game so much it's almost scary. The bizarre, glitched-out visuals, jarring music, and creepy texts all come together to create one of the most weirdest, messed up levels in anything. And it manages to do it without any traditionally horrifying elements. Just a lot of glitches and bugs exploited for maximum effect. 


  • The Gate of Illusion - La Mulana 

Found fairly late in the game, the Gate of Illusion is a diabolical maze designed specifically to leave players frustrated and confused. Secret portals, exploding chests, secret ladders, and important items hidden in seemingly random locations with no rhyme, or reason, or clues, that's just the start. The whole area is designed to drive you totally nuts by being incredibly obscure about its puzzles, which by the way, don't work the same way as the rest of the game. And on top of that, they're confusing and difficult to navigate. It's already a challenging game full of a lot of tough puzzles, but the stuff here, it just takes it to the next level. Many of the clues you find in this area straight up lie to you about what you're supposed to do. And in every way it's designed to just mess with your head. 


  • Cat Mario

Cat Mario, AKA Syobon Action or Mario From Hell, is a recreation of the first stage in the first Mario game, but designed to completely mess with your brain. Everything you expect to happen, whether you played a million platformers, or you've just played the first level in Mario a million times, it's all subverted here. Blocks move, they get away from you when you try to bop 'em, enemies appear out of nowhere. When you jump over pits, invisible blocks are placed in the exact spot that it would need to kill you when you try to jump. Basically, all cruel tricks you can think of, for any platformer, they're in this game. Along with a few more you probably couldn't come up with on your own, or expect. At least when it first came out back in 2007. These days, Kaizo hacks are pretty ubiquitous, but they rarely go as far as this game does to just screw with the player's expectations. It's one of those things that, after a while, you think you got it figured out, but then there's something else that you didn't expect Solid Snake starts breaking the fourth wall. The whole experience gets very strange in the last hour. While it's mostly just weird, when you get a message saying to turn the game off now or the screen suddenly switches to the game over screen but you can continue playing the game in the little window that appears in the corner, then yeah, they're really just trying to mess with you. It is a legendary sequence. 

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