You may have heard some pretty mortifying things about this extremely unsettling Deep Web game made with Kotuku’s ‘Terror Engine’. With a name inspired by the satanic messages when you play a section of Led Zeppelins’ Stairway to Heaven backwards (http://jeffmilner.com/backmasking/), essentially it’s an underground first-person horror game that has gained considerable notoriety due to the fact that it’s reported to contain very real gore and child pornography (I was assured that my copy did not contain the latter or I would not touch the game with a ten-foot pole). The fact it originates from the Deep Web also gives it that uneasy air of weirdness. But is there any truth to these rumours? Who’s the real Sad Satan?
Aside from the disturbing implications that it contains illegal images, the experience apparently transcends the game itself. Users have apparently experienced their PCs becoming sluggish upon download and have even been reported to have had their computers completely shut down. So is it merely an elaborate ruse for hackers to take control of your rig? A recruitment tool for the devil? Maybe, or it could be just a poorly-produced game that Reddit and 4chan users threw outlandish rumours at to fuel its intensity? I admit that all these rumours did make me a little apprehensive to try it but at the same time I was intrigued to find where all the chit-chat surrounding it came from. So I downloaded a copy of it, and yes, I’ve also read the rumours about how there’s multiple versions of the game ranging from a softened version, all the way up to the extreme. The version I played was the only one I could find and there isn’t any proof of a gorier version. I wouldn’t have the plums to see it anyway.
I found myself a copy of the game, and when I say ‘copy’ I mean a replica of the original game on the Surface Web. I know it’s virtually identical because I passed on my replica version to someone else who had actually played the Deep Web version. As a precaution I drowned the file in anti-virus and malware checks, as I didn’t want to take any chances. After that I was told to turn up the brightness of my screen to its fullest in order to uncover anything that may be lurking in the dark that would aid me in my ultimate quest to call bullshit. There was also a rumour about a Notepad file that would surface to your desktop containing gibberish and many 666 references whenever the game was started so I kept a close lookout for that. Again it most likely would have been the fact the version I downloaded was a replica, so no Notepad file or PC slowing at this point.
I started off in a pitch-black hallway. I turned my brightness on full (even though it made everything look terrible) and started to walk down it, hearing only my footsteps. Again, I was still feeling uncomfortable at this point because of all the talk around it. This game looked raw, almost purposely raw, and that added to the creepiness of it. I continued to move forward for a while until I was able to see a little flickering in the centre of my screen, seemingly coming from the end of the hallway. I then heard noises that sounded like someone was gasping, maybe a woman or a child, it was hard to tell because they were so muffled. I’d hit a 6/10 on the nervous scale.
I couldn’t walk any further after that so I eventually turned around and headed back to see if I’d missed anything. That’s when I noticed the light at the other end of the hallway had changed. Holy shit it’s different, I’m progressing. Limited to where I could actually go I walked towards the light until I heard the noises become more and more distorted, also music, sounding like a satanic ice cream van or a broken music box. Then the hallway changed again, but this time it looked glitchy, corrupted, and there’s flashes of yellow on the floor as I walk across it. Once I felt I couldn’t walk the same way anymore I again headed back the way I came and of course, it all changed. It looked the same as the first hallway except now there’s a growling noise getting progressively louder. It sounds sort of beast-like. Then it flashes back to another hallway, similar to the others but this one is wobbling…wait…that’s a bad word for it, shifting, yes it’s shifting. I can hear a man repeating something over and over again but I can’t understand what he’s saying. I walk to the end of the hallway until I’m shown an image that only lasts for a second or so:
What, the f**K, is this about.
Once I faced back down the hallway I can see that everything’s slowing down, almost like I was drunk. I make my way to the end of the hallway until it changes again, this time it’s much darker than before. The hallway changes again and soon after I’m flashed with another extremely creepy photo:
The voices and distorted noises are what’s really making me uneasy, I don’t understand them at all so I’m unsure if they even mean anything or are just gibberish. Sure, the hallways are creepy, but it’s the voices, the music, the screaming and gasping that’s taking its toll. The sound briefly stops as I walk ahead until I reach a strange room and the indistinguishable noises start again. When I try to walk into the room I’m flashed away into another hallway. It looks coloured as I approach it but becomes more greyscale until I am transported to yet another similar-looking hallway. This hallway seems maze-like, like there are other directions I am able to go. I figured I’d simply follow the method I was using which was to head straight on so I did, until I reached another room that I was able to enter. It had a strange circle pattern on the wall and seemed empty. I walked to the far end and once again before backtracking down the corridor until I heard another voice; a deep, mumbling voice sounded like it was decreeing something, again I couldn’t interpret what was being said. This voice follows me all the way down the narrow way and through a door, continuing straight until I reach a dead end when another image flashes on screen while Led Zeppelins’ Stairway to Heaven plays:
Once I turn to head back the other way I’m given a mild heart attack by a sad little girl standing directly behind me. She’s moving like she is out of breath as I zoom in on her face to see if I can distinguish any features, it all seems blurred, I can only tell she’s a girl by her dress and hair. Soon after I’m again clenching my chest when I hear a blood-curdling female scream, followed by a more intense shrill, like someone in pain. Then the sickening sound of a child’s long and torturous scream follows, so I dashed back the way I came until the game falls silent. I’ve got to be honest here, I was sceptical about the stupid rumours and aura that surrounds this game but those child-like screams made me horribly nervous. They sounded genuine, and that paired with what I saw next was enough to make me have a small break from gameplay…
I continued up the current hallway until it started to narrow and another muffled, male voice becomes heard. I bound through until I’m abruptly stopped by another image, this one made me sick:
What you’re viewing here is an image of Margaret Thatcher and infamous English paedophile Jimmy Savile promoting membership to the NSPCC, or the Natural Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. This photo was taken before it became known (posthumously) that Savile was one of the sickest predatory paedophiles to have ever lived, hiding behind his public persona as a radio DJ and Top of the Pops host and preying on countless victims across the UK.
After a break I continued playing. I followed the hallway until I reached another room, similar to the previous one I had found, only this room isn’t empty but rather filled with still-standing children that surround you as you centre yourself into the room. I turn back around to leave but one is blocking the door. I bolt past it back into the hallway to find I’ve now slowed down significantly, while another muffled voice speaks as though it is also slowed down, I slug my way forward until the way changes again.
I follow this new hallway until I hear another deep voice, but this one I can understand. He says:
“I live where there’s no TV, there’s no radio, there’s no carpets, there’s no electric lights.”
“The girls carry water, they don’t wear makeup, they’re having babies by themselves.”
“They go in shafts and squat down and have the babies on the ground.”
“I lived in Hollywood, and I have all that. Rolls Royces and Ferraris and the pad in Beverly Hills….”
“I saw that was all just a bigger prison than the one I’ve just came out of and I really didn’t care to go back to prison. See prison doesn’t just begin and end at the gate, it’s in your mind.”
“It’s locked in one world that’s dead and dying or it’s open to a world that’s free and alive….”
He then talks about how he was able to get girls through song. He sounds a little like a jazz musician or somebody famous from the 70s, or maybe even a career criminal. He goes on:
“I’m a petty car thief. I’ve, uh, been with prostitutes and bums and minors. This dream is my world. I don’t pretend to go uptown and be anything fancy. I can, but I find more real in a world that I’m in.”
“The real world is the one I have to deal with every day… Believe me, if I started murdering people… There’d be none of you left.”
Then once again, silence.
I then start to follow a cave-like hallway, backlit by what looks like a lantern until the screen flashes blank white with some tiny, random writing placed askew. The hallway continues until the previously disguised but coherent voice repeats phrases in an undisguised and much clearer tone and that’s when I realised. The voice is actually a police recording of murderer-conspirator Charles Manson and it was only after I typed the words into Google that I realised that I’d actually heard those recordings before, but the voice was altered to a point where I wasn’t able to identify it. His words: “If I started murdering people, there’d be none of you left” repeat all the way down the passage until you reach the dark end when an upbeat-sounding song starts playing in reverse, which turned out to be the Hong Kong 97 theme tune.
After that’s over I walk down another (you guessed it) hallway that changes into an oriental theme while a male voice is played in reverse. It sounds calm, I continue forward until it starts to rain and I reach the end of this detailed passage into what looks similar to a bathroom stall with a hunched-over man facing away from me, surrounded by bloody hand prints smeared on the walls. He seems inactive as I try to see his face with little success, so I turn around and fold back through rapidly changing coloured corridors until I find myself back into an original black and white-themed way.
I naturally head straight until I’m flashed with a caption at the bottom of the screen saying: “Come in and have some fun.” This is followed by another image to confirm what the game is really about:
After that the story remains much the same. I walk amongst interchanging hallways and passages with strange, chilling voices sending shivers down my neck with my opinion of the game already in mind until finally I reach the end. I enter a small corner that seems to be reflecting police siren flashes with a boy in the centre, I then hear a defeated-sounding gasp and sob of a young boy that appears to be playing in reverse.
Finally, This final image while Stairway to Heaven again plays in the background:
I have left a few things out that I’ll quickly address before I move on. Firstly, this isn’t an entire walkthrough, this is just what I deem worth writing about. Secondly, there were a few images which contained extreme gore (such as decapitated and burnt corpses) so I left them out of this article. I’ll just let you know they’re there and if you really want to see them I’m sure you will. Lastly, the full ending was just more hallway walking and then it stops and goes black.
Now, looking at the image flashes and random, eerie noises you can probably tell what kind of game this is. It contains references to child abuse, paedophilia, terrorism, murder, the Devil, torture and corruption. This game may have at a single time contained a virus named BotNet that snuck its way around firewalls and anti-virus software to cause a hassle in your computer. But in-between being used as a Trojan and having so much controversy around it that it has sparked fear, rumours and curiosity in many people it’s simply a glorified shitty game. It’s designed to be crude and offensive and the sick bastard that created it has slapped it together and thrown it to the sharks. Some kid has gone onto 4chan and said: “Look, I got this game from the Deep Web and it’s insane lalala” and then people assume that because it was apparently from the Deep Web it’s illegal or connected to something sinister. In reality it’s only its reputation that’s even the slightest bit interesting. Hell, it’s not even a half-decent game. All it did was anger me with its jokes about convicted child abusers, and at the end of the day that’s what it was solely designed to do: to offend without having a point. The only truth that is being told surrounding this game is that it contains offensive material, and it isn’t linked to anything else more macabre and it won’t infect your mind like something out of that terrible movie Feardotcom.
I’d be wrong if I said I wasn’t a little freaked out though.