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Revenant Online[]


       	Back in 1999 the genre of MMORPG’s was gaining in popularity. Ultima Online and Everquest were growing at an exponential rate, so of course as the gaming industry tends to do more and more studios began to create their own versions of multiplayer RPG’s. While the majority of them were flops that disappeared within a year or two of creation there were the lucky few that, even with their inevitable demise, left an impact.
       	One of these games was called Revenant Online. It was not unlike the aforementioned Everquest and featured 3d graphics that, at the time at least, were stunning and beyond immersive. The world was colossal, there were hundreds of NPC’s to interact with, various areas with deep lore and cultures and creatures, and, as a selling point, ‘ground breaking AI’ that was supposedly so effective you couldn’t tell between other players and static computer characters.
       	Despite these features and promises of grand adventure the game came and went with little to no fanfare, save for some discussions on playgrounds and some forums, buried beneath the titans of the industry. The other issue is that the publisher of the game, Sheol Entertainment, only physically created 10,000 physical disks for retail hoping that artificial scarcity would boost sales and demand. Unfortunately the plan failed, the  company never made another game and quickly dissolved one year later in 2000. The game itself was only online for nine months.
       	The game’s story was simple if not clichéd; you played as a hero trying to save the world from an unspeakable evil by choosing a character race and class, growing in levels to attain power, items and skills, and made friends along the way. However, one aspect of the game that was controversial at the time was that the world, despite being fantasy in nature, held extremely dark, grim undertones and details as the evil was a dark, endless ‘corruption’ of everything good. This led to some infamous creative choices, not all of which would see the light of day with the official release. In an online interview now lost due to time one of the developers said that they “wanted to create an actual world with true good and evil,” and “
       	Revenant online had an overarching storyline, but there were also side quests. A rather large amount compared to other games, as the lore of the world was surprisingly deep, and this is where some of the controversy came into play. The following are just a few of the game's many missions.
      	In the game there was one quest called “Think of the Children.” You entered a small village on the way between larger cities, meeting a woman who tells you children have been going missing and mentions that one was last seen on the north side of the area near a forest. Once you enter you follow a trail of snapped twigs and a child’s toy. At the end of the forest you find something called the ‘Childchewer.’ This creature is simply a standard villager npc with a dagger as a weapon. Once defeated the enemy falls to the ground and drops an item. Upon looting Childchewer’s corpse you would receive “Child’s remains,” an item whose icon was an image of bones that was to be turned back into the quest giver. She would, confusingly, thank you for saving the children and promptly take the item from your inventory rewarding you with gold and experience. 

The controversy, however, is in the details of one of the textures. Nearby, hiding beneath a bush, is the body of a dead child. This, in and of itself, is unsettling enough, but years later after datamining the game it was discovered that the texture file was called “jeremy_watson.dds.” The name matches that of a missing boy from England in 1995, and the body looks very similar to that of a picture of the missing child. It is also the only instance of this specific texture file.

At another point in the game you have the option to deliver a package back to an earlier settlement that is very far back, but the experience was high due to the time and danger involved. If one made the trek back they were greeted with the sight of the village now completely empty with no people in sight, making it impossible to complete. At first it was believed the quest was never finished or broken until the player moved close to one of the buildings where footsteps could be heard. It wasn’t until breaking the game’s camera could be done that they could actually see what was inside the building, which is when it was discovered that all the town’s npc’s, around twenty in all, were trapped inside, unable to escape. Every single NPC is following the player, all of them missing the texture for their face.

In one city, Baneshammer, you are asked to infiltrate a sorcerer’s hideout and retrieve his book. The sorcerer’s tower featured several floors with decorations of papers, books, alchemy supplies and so on. When one defeats the sorcerer you are able to take the book and, once in your inventory, you can read it. However, the book is written in a language that is nowhere else in the game, and goes on for multiple pages. It is completely unintelligible and thought to be stylized, and meaningless, gibberish. Only years later it was able to be deciphered and could actually be translated. The content was actually a newspaper article ran in the 1980’s about a missing teenaged girl named Eileen Daniels in Montana. To this day no trace of her was found.

In 2018 a streamer by the name of ‘InShadowz’ managed to get his hands on a copy of the game and, after managing to get it to run he set up a private server and began playing. He made a character, a rogue, and set upon starting his adventure. Some of his early comments were regarding the ‘odd’ atmosphere that was exacerbated by some of the npc’s who would follow him with the turn of their head.

Though he only streamed the game for a total of four hours there were several notable events that viewers would recount as “strange,” “bizarre,” and “unsettling.” The starting area was a small village that contained some houses, an inn, a church, and several static npcs with quests. Shadowz accepted a beginner quest to kill ten boars for their skin that were nearby. When he ran to the area where the boars were supposed to be he instead found that the models were replaced with those of children. He was able to kill the children, each death resulting in the sound of a screaming animal. The quest was turned in with no more trouble. This incident was laughed off after initial confusion.

Shadowz decided, then, to try an early dungeon known as the Caves of Arrath. Normally this would require a team of eight players, but he was able to at least explore the area by himself. The cave system, lore wise, was supposed to be home to a goblin king with his minions. The dungeon was to have the players fight through multiple waves of goblins to defeat the boss. However, when Shadowz entered the area the music stopped in its entirety with the only sounds being his footsteps. As he progressed he noticed that there were no enemies whatsoever, just a long, empty, rocky cavern he was traversing. Along the way were side rooms, but these, too, were vacant save for one female villager NPC near the end. When he highlighted her, instead of a regular conversation interaction, he targeted her as if to attack. He proceeded to defeat the NPC since there was nothing else to do, noting how her screams and grunts were ‘unique,’ until the killing blow. He also thought it odd that she never fought back or ran. Most npcs and enemies have a certain number of predetermined ‘death croak’ sounds, this NPC’s death was that of a woman screaming in agony, begging for mercy, and he noted how he hadn’t heard it before. The game crashed when she finally died, mid-wail. The sound bite had been continuing on for nearly ten seconds.

Undeterred, Shadowz shook off that experience and started the game up again. He started back outside the entrance to the dungeon and decided to  go back to the main quest. As he walked towards the next town he received a pop up message from another player asking to join his party. He was shaken since this shouldn’t have been possible, but accepted the request anyway. On the minimap he could see a blue dot representing his teammate off in the distance. He turned to face the direction of his teammate, the distance obscured by fog. After waiting for a moment he saw the vague outline of the figure in the mist. Just then he received a personal message. The conversation was as follows:

■■■■■■■■: leave

ShadowZ: What?

■■■■■■■■: leave

ShadowZ: Who is this? How did you connect to this server, I’m the only person here?

■■■■■■■■: leave us

Shadowz: Who is ‘us?’

■■■■■■■■: leave

■■■■■■■■: we do not want to continue this anymore

■■■■■■■■: leave

ShadowZ: We? How about YOU leave?

■■■■■■■■: leaveleaveleaveleaveleaveleaveleaveleaveleaveleaveleaveleaveleaveleave

At this point the connection to the game has been broken and Shadowz is taken back to the main menu. The chat exploded and Shadowz himself was shaken. He said he was ‘freaked out,’ but, noting how interesting this became, decided to try one last time.

Logging in resulted in his character spawning in a tavern where he was shocked to see a circle of villagers standing around him. After a moment he decided to speak in the general area chat.

ShadowZ: Hello?

◬: Children have been going missing! Can you help us find them?

ShadowZ: What? That’s from that one quest from earlier

◬: Children have been going missing! Can you help us find them? We think they’re over by [REDACTED]

ShadowZ: Is that an ISP address?

ShadowZ: Wait. THAT’S MINE

◬: we were at peace

◬: why did you wake us

◬: Children have been going missing!

At this point Shadowz tries to run past the circle and out the door. When he steps outside he is immediately attacked by an invisible enemy. He panics and turns to try to find the source only to highlight a spot nearby that is following and getting closer. The name of the enemy was blank, and when he tried to fight back the enemy’s sounds were that of a screaming animal. His character died and he respawned back town at the steps of the temple.

Shadowz looked around and tried to see if anyone was near. The village was empty, no NPC’s could be seen. He turned back towards the church only to now find the entrance open. At this point Shadowz decided that he is too ‘uncomfortable’ with the prior events and decides to quit to play something else. Before he did, another party request popped up on the screen. The name was blank. The following direct message was all that appeared before the game crashed for the last time:

let the children rest

The game immediately crashed to the desktop, and once Shadowz realized what had happened he stopped the stream. He didn’t stream for three weeks, and when he returned he acted like nothing had happened, claiming he had a family emergency that required his attention. Anyone mentioning the game was immediately banned. To this day he refuses to speak of it and denies even hearing of the game in the first place.

In 2020 another youtuber who heard about the incident decided to investigate. He happened to live in Finland where the game was developed. However little information could be found about the actual physical location of where their headquarters was.  After scouring the internet for anything he managed to find an old article and a physical box that the game was shipped in. After paying almost $1,000.00 for the item he traveled into  the heart of an old town called Jussäro, deep behind forests on an island. The address was that of an abandoned children’s hospital that hadn’t been occupied since the 1960’s.



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