Technically, Sad Satan may not even exist.
Videos of this strange game recently surfaced on our normal, everyday internet, and according to the people who found it and made it available, it comes from the dark recesses of the Deep Web.
It's been claimed that the original version of the game was filled with upsetting images of gore and child pornography, but the version made available for us Shallow Web users, like popular YouTuber PewDiePie, has been stripped of graphic imagery and malicious code.
Despite that, or maybe because of that threat of something even worse looming out there somewhere, it's scary as hell (if a little inscrutable).
Apologies in advance if this is like a The Ring situation and I'm causing all sorts of paranormal deaths by sharing any of this. I guess just be careful about any ghost babies crawling out of your computer monitor for the next few days.
In just a few months, Sad Satan has become a bit of an internet legend. Its origins are obscure, and its spread online is filled with misdirection and intrigue.
Back in June, a relatively niche YouTube channel called Obscure Horror Corner uploaded the first part of its playthrough of Sad Satan. Up until that point, Obscure Horror Corner had made a name for itself by posting footage from Japanese horror games and clips from various Asian horror films. These games were often old DOS games or independently made and distributed titles that would be tough for the average person to get their hands on.
In the description that originally accompanied the first Sad Satan video, Obscure Horror Corner claimed to have downloaded the game from the Deep Web and said and that they deleted the game before they completed it because the file was generating text documents on their desktop filled with strange text and gibberish.
The game started to pick up steam after the person behind Obscure Horror Corner did an interview with Kotaku, and it wasn't long before a link popped up claiming to be the original version of the game. The file contained graphic images of gore, human mutilation, and child pornography, and those who downloaded it claimed that it caused their computers to behave strangely and crash.
The file was later sanitized by Reddit user BlindStark on the Sad Satan subreddit, which allowed people to explore the game without having to worry about upsetting and illegal images. (Despite claims that the sanitized file is clean, I wouldn't recommend downloading it, even if you can manage to find it.)
On June 21, Obscure Horror Corner uploaded the first of five videos to its YouTube channel titled "Sad Satan - Deep Web Horror Game - Part 1." All the videos are pretty similar, and Sad Satan doesn't really seem much like much of anything. The game itself is difficult to get a hold of, so all we really have are these five videos of Obscure Horror Corner's playthrough to go off of.
The five videos show nearly an hour of aimless wandering down dark hallways as odd sounds play and the video slowly corrupts, warping the maze into a jagged, monochromatic mess.
The game apparently gets its name from the second or so of audio that loops over and over again during sections of the game — a backward clip from Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven." Supposedly, when played in reverse, one section of the song contains hidden messages in worship of Satan:
Here are the lyrics as they're sung:
If there's a bustle in your hedgerow, don't be alarmed now, it's just a spring clean for the May queen. Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run there's still time to change the road you're on.
And here's how they are often interpreted in reverse:
Oh here's to my sweet Satan. The one whose little path would make me sad, whose power is Satan. He'll give those with him 666, there was a little toolshed where he made us suffer, sad Satan.
Aside from the uncomfortably loud sounds of backward speech and music, which is very unsettling, the notable aspects of Sad Satan are the moments when the game footage cuts out and strange photographs are displayed instead.
In a dozen or so moments throughout the five videos, we get very brief flashes of images that take up the whole screen. Sometimes the images don't seem to mean much and are just included to give the game a creepy feel.
This may be the case with the images of Franz Joseph, the ninth prince of Thurn and Taxis, standing in a stairwell surrounded by antlers, as well as the image of a circle of druids gathered at Stonehenge:
Other images appear to be tied to a theme of child abuse. This includes an image of British television and radio personality Jimmy Savile, who was accused of committing over 200 indecent acts against minors over the course of several decades.
Also Rolf Harris, an Australian entertainer who was convicted of, and imprisoned for, several counts of indecent assault in 2014.
And a particularly off-putting image of Tsutomu Miyazaki, also known as the Otaku Murderer, who was executed for the murder and mutilation of four girls in Japan in the late '80s. The corrupted version apparently also includes flashes of human mutilation and child abuse that thankfully were not included in Obscure Horror Corner's videos.
If the image flashes weren't upsetting enough, the game also flashes several cryptic messages at unpredictable intervals with no pattern to how long they stay onscreen. The messages range from instructional to downright menacing. Here are a few examples:
THEN THERE ARE THE GHOST CHILDREN...
These kids become the most imposing force in Sad Satan. During the first encounter with one little ghost girl, she just sort of APPEARS BEHIND YOU. She's just there, and you can't keep going until you confront her and squeeze past her and continue on your way. Hey, no thanks.
Then for good measure, during the final encounter with the dead ghost babies, one of them chases you down, taking wild swings at you. Good times.
There's also this creep, who appears to be a little older than the other kids, and a little more shy.
It could very well be that it doesn't mean anything, and that it's just a bunch of long hallways and spooky backward speech designed to scare the shit out of anyone who finds it.
The many references to child abuse and inhumanity lead some to believe the story is presented from Satan's perspective as he wanders a world that has become too corrupt to be influenced by his evil and has forgotten about him.
Others believe the message might be much darker, and that the game was created by a child abuse survivor in an attempt to express their pain:
Definitely has the feel of one of those alternate reality games that starts with weird trailheads and ends up being an ad for a horror movie or some new TV show or something. If that's the case, it's definitely gotten out of control.
Many in the community over at the Sad Satan subreddit think that the files originally uploaded to Obscure Horror Corner were made by those behind the channel in a basic game engine called the Terror Engine, and that the story about the Deep Web and upsetting images were fabricated to add some intrigue to the narrative.
If that's true, the copy uploaded later that included the gore and child abuse images was likely a copycat, created by some third party in an attempt to make the story even more bizarre and to lure curious gamers into downloading the file and installing malware onto their machines. (Hence the recommendation to avoid installing the file under any circumstances.)
Some have even theorized that the Trojan virus in the corrupted file was originally created by law enforcement to track a child pornography ring, and that the ring found it and created the corrupt version of Sad Satan to throw off the tracking with false leads.
To add to the game's already rich mythology, there are also claims that those who post about Sad Satan, especially on social media sites like Tumblr, are subjected to harassment and submissions containing images of human mutilation and child pornography. (Which is why we've decided to post this under a generic staff byline.)
Whatever it ends up being, Sad Satan is the right combination of unsettling and unintelligible to make for a really great internet urban legend.
Sleep tight, ghost babies.