The “game” isn’t much: walking around dark, unending hallways that are poorly rendered, the only sound your footsteps as you walk. Occasionally, you will find a blurry human figure standing ominously in a corner, or hear backward-masked audio or piercing screams. A still image will flash on the screen, everything from Satanic and Nazi imagery, to seemingly innocuous scenes from a children’s show.
This is Sad Satan, what many are calling the “scariest video on the internet.” What is perhaps more terrifying about the game is mystery behind it.
Sad Satan was originally discovered by YouTube user Obscure Horror Corner. OHC claims he found this on the “Deep Web.” (The Deep Web is a part of the internet which isn’t indexed by Google or other search engines. It requires special software and technical know-how to access it, and is a haven for all sorts of illegal trade.) He played it for a brief time, then deleted it when it started to have a weird effect on his computer, causing a notepad application to open on its own, with garbled, meaningless text jumbles. He deleted the game and the link he originally downloaded it from doesn’t work.
With no creator and a seemingly hidden agenda, the internet took to dissecting Sad Satan. Among some of the scares they found: audio clips from Led Zeppelin, The Doors, and KMFDM songs; speeches from Charlie Manson, Sex Pistols frontman Johnny Rotten, and Hitler; coded phrases referencing a Satanic sex cult in Britain; Satanic phrases; and images of British DJ Jimmy Savile at a child welfare fundraiser (after his death, it was made public that Savile was life-long sexual predator), Tsutomu Miyazaki (convicted of the rape and murder of four girls), Rolf Harris (Australian singer convicted of molesting four girls), and Roman Polanski (director who fled the country to avoid prosecution in a statutory rape case).
All of these audio/visual clues seem to suggest a link to child abuse, but the message seems unclear. I have to believe it is denouncing abuse because… well, I just have to believe that. My brain can’t handle another option. Throughout the maze of hallways, occasionally you will run into in a child figure, poorly rendered with a ghoulish blurry face, that every once in a while might lurch forward. Perhaps these are the angry spirits of abused children. Throughout the game, audio recordings feature the sounds of a girl screaming. Rumors that the screams were genuine were later disproved after finding matching stock audio clips.
While OHC maintains that he has nothing to do with the creation of Sad Satan, much of those involved in the mystery seem to think that OHC created the game as a means of self-promotion. Others claim that the “real” Sad Satan came from a user on 4chan, but that it was rife with computer viruses, child pornography, and extreme gore. A third, “clean” version of Sad Satan is the same as the 4chan version, but without viruses, and the illegal images have been removed. It seems clear that OHC’s version was the first one; the 4chan version is considered a clone, and Reddit users delivered the “clean clone.”
I watched the walkthrough of OHC playing Sad Satan and I must admit, it was a intense. The backwards speeches and music, though sparse, were unsettling. More than anything, though, it was the anticipation. This unseen character is moving through a seemingly endless, inescapable system of hallways; it is nearly pitch-black; the only sound for most of the game is your character’s own footsteps. Every once in a while an image or a sound will pierce the blackness, or you will encounter an evil ghost-like child who doesn’t make a sound and, for the most part, doesn’t move.
Sad Satan is a strange mindfuck of a video game. I have no desire to play it, but I sure want to run the video on a loop at my next Halloween party.