Creepypastas are the new campfire tales. They’re short, scary, and read most often as urban legends. What truly distinguishes creepypasta stories, however, is that they’re typically centered around technology. Video games, especially, tend to be the subject of creepypasta stories, with some tellers going so far as to create “alternate reality games” to up the spook factor and/or blur the line between truth and fiction. We’ve seen it before with the legendary “BEN Drowned” story (which included its own ARG), and now we’re seeing it unfold in real time with Petscop.
Kotaku first reported on the phenomenon, which centers around a YouTube account (called Petscop) where someone is playing through an undeveloped, unreleased Playstation game of the same name from 1997. Here’s the relevant details, as provided by Kotaku:
The first episode, dated March 12th, sets the scene. In the footage… a guy says he wants to show off a weird game. “This is just to prove to you that I’m not lying about this game that I found,” he says to an unknown recipient. As the game boots up, the title screen suggests it was created in 1997 by a studio named Garalina. (As far as I can tell, no such developer exists.)
Paul takes us through the game, which he says only has one finished level—to wit, he tries walking beyond the first area, but there’s nothing there. So he goes into the only available building, and he starts capturing bizarre-looking pets. You can immediately tell something is slightly off: the game warns you that the pets are scared for some mysterious reason, and that they’ll run away from you. Overtly, though, Petscop has a very bubblegum look, full of pastel colors and boopy sound effects. There are even collectibles, something common in games of that era. So far, nothing out of the ordinary.
Soon, however, the game segues into a dark, grassy area and the peppy music gives way to silence. There’s no indication where to go, so the player simply wanders.
Eventually, a mysterious door is discovered. It opens on its own and soon the player is wandering throughout a dank, subterranean lair filled with freaky notes, posters, and the graves of children. Subsequent videos give way to more and more oddities. Here’s a few, as described by Kotaku:
There are posters with inexplicable visages. There’s a grave for a kid, buildings with faces on them. At one point, he comes across a glitched-out crying child. Later, he finds a mirror room where a smiley girl mimics everything he does. In the distance, you can see the words “Quitter’s Room.” The room also houses a poster that asks the player if he or she remembers being born.
In one of the latest videos, the player finds an apparatus that allows you to ask it questions. After some trial and error, the player began getting some freaky responses, one of which simply reads, “Marvin picks up tool hits me when PlayStation on.” Another one implores him to turn the PlayStation off.
In the comments of each video there’s some debate as to the “authenticity” of the game. Is it really some lost relic from 1997? Probably not. But the gameplay is detailed and the graphics are lovingly designed to evoke the look of turn-of-the-millennium PlayStation games. Also, the mythology of the game seems to circle around a little-known tragedy from 2001, wherein a young girl died while being subjected to a cruel therapeutic exercise called “rebirthing.“
Real or fake, it’s creepy, fascinating stuff, the themes hearkening back to the “Sad Satan” weirdness of 2015. Here’s hoping this story has a better payoff than that one.