As gamers, we often love to mess with our favorite titles in the wildest ways.
From exploiting various glitches and cheat codes to simply pushing the boundaries of what's possible on a technical level, part of what makes the journey fun is accomplishing things we were never meant to do. (Just look at how many in-depth mods and exploits have been employed over the years to undermine developers’ intentions and/or drastically reimagine the experience.)
But what about when the reverse happens and the virtual world starts trolling us?
Now, we’re not talking about standard gameplay features and inconveniences, such as restricted ammo, sudden spikes in difficulty, anxiety-inducing time limits, or fetch quests. However irritating they may be, it’s fair to say that they come with the territory.
Rather, we’re examining 10 titles that – on at least one occasion – go out of their way to punish or fool players in deeply cunning and impactful ways.
Sure, some of them make sense narratively or add realism to the proceedings. Yet, even they demonstrate how much the creators enjoy getting a laugh out of provoking players in elaborate, cheap, and emotionally draining ways.
10. Scarecrow Restarts Your Game – Batman: Arkham Asylum
Each entry in the main Batman: Arkham tetralogy (including 2013’s underappreciated Batman: Arkham Origins) is full of mind-blowing sections that challenge our expectations of what’s going on and what we should be doing next.
Although it’s arguably not the best chapter in the series, 2009’s Batman: Arkham Asylum houses the single most deviously confounding and traumatic trick in the whole franchise: Scarecrow’s third nightmare sequence.
In fact, it’s among the greatest video game moments of all time.
Here, Scarecrow’s dose of fear toxin goes far beyond what his prior duo did by seemingly freezing and then restarting the game.
As Batman is walking down a corridor, both the screen and audio suddenly glitch out. Then, the opening cinematic plays, but with several unsettling changes.
For instance, Scarecrow’s face appears in the clouds; a new road sign reads, “Madhouse. Batman may be escaping patient”; Joker is driving a restrained Batman to Arkham Asylum; and upon arrival, it’s Batman who’s being carted away as you take control of Joker.
Eventually, Joker shoots Batman, prompting the Caped Crusader to wake up and fight Scarecrow. Still, it’s an ingenious way to severely baffle and frighten players during their first playthrough.