Everybody loves a meme. They're like inside jokes, but for everyone. They might take a little bit of knowledge and understanding, but thankfully the internet provides context for how gags originate and spread. And, with humanity being better connected than ever before because of technology, they've become a huge part of our cultural fabric.
For all of its inherent awfulness, at least the internet has given us the likes of the Grimace Shake craze, Barbenheimer and anything with Pedro Pascal in it this year alone.
But memetic humour doesn't just pass around Facebook and Twitter, it sometimes gets immortalised in other forms of media. Video games are no exception to this. Developers are just as guilty as doom-scrolling as any one of us, and falling in love with any particular memes they find. Some of them can't resist to allow their favourites to spread further by including them off the beaten path of their games, waiting to be discovered.
This list will explore just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to jokes that have taken on such a life of their own that they found their way into unexpected virtual worlds.
10. The Cake Is A Lie - Assassin's Creed Valhalla
There might be few if any video game memes that have exploded quite like Portal's legendary non-sequitur. If you've been on the internet any time in the last decade you've seen it. If you were online in 2007, you couldn't move for it. It was so constant that people got pretty sick of the cake being a lie and so Portal 2 made almost no follow-up to it. Which is fine, because it spread to all kinds of other media.
For context, if it's at all needed, the meme refers to a false promise made by the experiment-obsessed AI GLaDOS in Valve's classic puzzler. The suggestion of cake is used as a humorous motivator. However, in various spots outside of the game's test chambers, there are mad scrawlings on the walls, one line repeating over and over: "the cake is a lie".
Ironically, "the cake is a lie is a lie" is also a meme because of the game's final shot that reveals it really does exist.
A very direct reference to not just the line but the entire point behind it can be found in Assassin's Creed Valhalla. In Essexe lives a man named Chad the Riddler who tasks the player with three brainteasers and the promise of cake as a prize. The actual prize is 20 pieces of silver because, of course, the baked goods were a falsehood.