I had heard rumors of the game’s existence on various gaming sites and message boards, but I never guessed it to be real. I spent a little over a year trying to track down a copy, but came up empty-handed. That was until a few weeks ago, when the game decided to find me. I am here to beg you, DO NOT go looking for it. If an unfamiliar game shows up at your door, leave it be. It can disguise itself under any platform and does not abide by the rules of our universe. If you are unfortunate or stupid enough to play it, I will provide instructions below to hopefully give you a fighting chance.
The game decided to present itself to me on a Sunday at midnight. It had manifested itself into a blank Nintendo 64 cartridge with no writing or sticker logo, and was placed outside my front door with no note or instruction.
I paced around for 20 minutes and tried to comprehend where it had come from and who had delivered it. Eventually, I hooked up my console and inserted the cartridge. My version of the game had titled itself “Halloween 64” and even included an inverted Nintendo logo. It also displayed a few fake dev companies like Eulogy inc. and Last Breath Software. The main title screen showed the words “Halloween 64— Press Start” in text made to look like running, green slime.
As soon as the game begins, you will be unable to quit until it is complete. I am sure you are thinking, “just turn it off, unplug it, or walk away.” If only it were that easy. The game has several self-defense methods, and the harder you try and disrupt it, the stronger it becomes. The power function of the N64 console will not respond if you try to turn it off, the red power light remains on, and the system operates like normal. The cartridge cannot be removed. It does not matter how hard you pull; it will stay locked in place. If you annoy it enough, the cartridge will become scalding hot and will burn your skin to the bone. All outside communication will be lost. Your phone and internet will not function while the game is running. Any door or window that leads to the outside world will be inaccessible. My front door would not open, and all of my windows became shatterproof. To be honest, I am not sure if time even passes while playing the game, as every clock in my apartment remains at midnight while playing.
You are given ten lives.
Certain aspects of the game will be mirrored in reality. Any pets you own will die as soon as you lose a life. As you lose more lives— you will get sick, very sick. I became nauseous, my head started to pound, and my nose began to bleed. The more lives you lose, the worse you will feel—but you must keep playing. I can only conclude that losing all lives will result in your actual death.
The character of Level One is a child dressed in a skeleton costume, carrying a jack-o-lantern bucket— the exact costume I wore when I was six years old for Halloween. Your character starts in the middle of a suburban neighborhood that is covered with cheap Halloween decor. The street had a striking resemblance to the one I grew up on, which I guess is a detail that changes with each player. The only ability you have is movement. You cannot jump, punch, or use items in this level. Although the street appears linear and endless, as though it is an infinite loop, it is not. As you move forward, the street lights behind you will go out. DO NOT go into the dark; KEEP MOVING. If you move your character into the dark, you will lose a life. As you play, you will notice the darkness creeping behind you in reality. After a few hours of running down the virtual street, all of the lights in my apartment went out one-by-one. Whatever you hear, see, or feel, you mustn’t take your eyes off of the screen during this level. You will hear doors in your home open and close, footsteps, and even a familiar voice whisper in your ear. DO NOT lose concentration, or you will lose more lives. You may even feel a hand rest on your shoulder. When the game gets bored of Level One, it will end without notice. The timer on the screen showed that I ran for 7 hours and 26 minutes before it ended.
Level Two is displayed in the first person. You will enter a house with limited visibility, as a dim flashlight is your only source of illumination. As you progress through this level, you will notice a climate change around you in reality. My apartment was freezing, making it extremely difficult to concentrate. Again you must keep playing; if you get up and try to adjust your thermostat or get a coat, you will lose a life. I lost four lives during this level and started coughing up blood. As you move through the house, you will discover various weapons. When you recover all of the weapons, you can progress to Level 3. These weapons cannot be used in self-defense. It is best not to equip them, as your character will only use them to commit suicide, thus resulting in the loss of more lives. As you move through the dark house, you will hear and see things that will test your limits as a human being. I will not go into detail, but I saw and heard something on that screen that was deeply personal, disturbing, and worst of all…genuine. Be prepared to witness every terrible experience from your past. All of those things you have repressed, forgotten, and maybe even went to therapy to try to work through. Once again, you must keep playing, and you must collect each weapon.
I entered this level with two remaining lives, almost certain that I was destined to fail. Like the former levels, I believe that it is custom-tailored to the person who is playing. Again this level remains in the first-person view. You will enter a bedroom and see a person lying on a bed, asleep. They may resemble a loved one, a friend, or yourself. I saw the body of my best friend who passed away ten years ago. You will have access to every weapon you grabbed in level two: a knife, blow torch, baseball bat, and screwdriver. Your objective is simple, kill the person in the bed. They will not fight back or move. Once their health bar is diminished, you will win the game. I chose the knife. I walked up to the bed, aimed, and struck the body with the blade. White-hot pain filled my eyes, and I instantly discovered the catch of level three. Whatever suffering you inflict on the person, you will feel in reality. You will not lose any blood, you will not lose consciousness, and you will not die— but you will feel everything. If you take too long in-between blows, your player will lose a life. The person on the bed will beg you to stop; they will scream your name over and over again. It took me twenty minutes to stab them to death, and I could barely hold the controller when it was over. I completed it with one life remaining.
My physical body was cold, frail, and broken. I remember reading “Game Complete” on the screen just before blacking out. I am not sure who the game will choose next, or if it already has— I just pray that they will read this before it is too late.