Petscop, developed by Garalina and released for the PlayStation in 1997, is a 2.5D platformer that has players navigate a cute and vibrant world catching creatures known as “pets” by solving puzzles. However, there’s only one problem…the game doesn’t actually exist.
I should probably come clean here and reveal that Petscop is in fact a horror web-series/ARG that centers around someone named Paul who receives a copy of the mysterious “Petscop”. The series is shown in a commentary format with Paul talking to the audience as he plays through the game which slowly swaps it’s cute and harmless aesthetic for something much more sinister.
Although Petscop is a video series, I would actually class it as an ARG (Alternate Reality Game). If you just sat through the videos, you’d probably be left with nothing but questions. The community that Petscop spawned worked together to try and solve it’s cryptic clues. It was strangely heartwarming to see a small fan base blow up into a massive collection of conspiracy theorists and to say that I was there when it happened feels like an honor. It felt like a multiplayer game at times, with everyone collaborating to try and unravel Petscop’s overwhelming mystery.
It took over 2 years for the series to finish with a total of 24 parts, with each video becoming increasingly more unnerving and creepy. If Petscop taught me anything, it was patience. Having to wait for the next video to release only to leave me with more questions was infuriatingly painful. Petscop would leave fans waiting months for each instalment and there was even points where people started to believe that the series had been abandoned.
Petscop manages to use it’s simplicity of being a live play-through to create the most unnerving atmosphere possible. The only comfort that the audience has is the knowledge that Paul is with them, commentating over the game and reacting to everything that happens. However, Petscop uses this comfort to it’s advantage, with Paul seemingly disappearing at certain points in the series leaving the audience alone with the game. It doesn’t help that Paul isn’t the most talkative person and as you’ll find out through watching Petscop, it’s not just the audience that he ends up talking to…
Paul is a very interesting character and as you learn through each video, Petscop is so much more than just a spooky game, often breaking the fourth wall to interact with Paul and the audience. To say what Petscop reveals about Paul and how it interacts with him would be a huge spoiler and it’s best to enter Petscop as blind as possible so I’ll leave that for you to find out for yourself.
What makes Petscop so unique is how convincing it is. When I first came across the series I genuinely believed that it was a real game until I looked into it further and even after doing my research it was still a struggle to believe that it was fake. The way the game glitches out and how the player moves around is so realistic that it’s honestly a shame that it’s not a real game. The creator behind Petscop revealed after the project had ended that he had no plans to make a playable version and as disappointing as that sounds, I can understand why. Being able to explore the game would ruin series and the mystery that surrounds it.
Petscop feels so realistic that it often feels like a real collection of tapes that should have been left alone. Being mislead by it’s initial vibrant world to be pulled into something much more darker and sinister gives off such a surreal feeling that’s extremely difficult to explain. By the time Petscop reveals it’s true evil nature, you’re already hooked by it’s complex mystery. It feels like you should stop watching but you become so invested in it’s world that you feel unable to. Petscop represents the best in horror. There’s no jumpscares or loud noises, it’s simply just a combination of fantastic storytelling and a constant build of dread that keeps the audience both intrigued and horrified.
I don’t exactly know what it is about Petscop that makes it so creepy. From the long silences where the player doesn’t move to the disturbing subject matter, Petscop is a complex and twisted puzzle that very slowly reveals itself to the audience. It takes a lot of patience but when everything starts to piece together, Petscop becomes an extremely unique and unforgettable experience that will get under your skin and stay with you long after finishing its series of strange videos. If you’re obsessed with horror and mystery like me then I honestly can’t recommend this series enough.
If you’re interested in exploring Petscop and it’s many horrific mysteries, you can find a link to its YouTube channel here.
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