The Weirdest Thing A Video Game Has Ever Asked Me To Do

The Weirdest Thing A Video Game Has Ever Asked Me To Do
Image: Dark Souls 3

“A man chooses, a slave obeys”.

The ending of the original BioShock is powerful. Playing — or more aptly, watching — the final confrontation is powerful. You bounce a putter off Ryan’s domepiece and it’s all very dramatic and symbolic. It has a lot to say about the way video games guide us through these arbitrary tasks. In video games we rarely choose, we obey. And even when we do choose, those choices exist within a set of pre-determined matrices. In video games our choices are never made with a complete freedom of agency.

That’s sort of what BioShock’s really about, isn’t it?

Now would be a good moment to lean back in your chair and stroke your chin thoughtfully. Go on then, I’m waiting. A man chooses, a slave obeys.

Now, let’s talk about Dark Souls 3. It wasn’t BioShock that made me question video games and issues of determinism. It was Dark Souls 3.

There I was, deep in the Grand Archives, a cavernous library of ghouls and wizardry. I stood in front of a sizeable pool, filled with a substance I couldn’t identify. Then, a prompt. Possibly the weirdest video game prompt I’ve ever seen in all my decades spent holding a controller:

“Dunk Head In Wax”

Dunk head in wax. That’s it. No explanation. No attempt to talk round the fact that you haven’t been dipping your head in pools of wax, water, blood or whatever liquid you’ve stumbled across. Nothing.

“Would you kindly take your head and dunk it in this fucking big pool of wax thank you please? I realise you’ve mostly been slashing at monsters and exploring castles and shit for the last 30 hours but now I would like you to dunk your head in wax.”

Imagine your boss walked up to you, right this second. Normally your job entails… I don’t know — let’s go with the stereotype and say you’re in IT. Normally your job involves telling people to restart their computers over the phone. Then one afternoon your supervisor walks up to your desk, he’s carrying a bucket filled with wax. He doesn’t say much, he doesn’t explain shit. He just says…

“Dunk head in wax.”

He doesn’t offer you a promotion, he doesn’t say a single goddamn thing except:

“Dunk head in wax.”

Can you imagine a situation where you would step away from your desk and, without question, dunk your head in that wax?

I sure as hell can’t.

What choice do I have? It might do something!

I’ve done a lot of weird things in video games. I used a literal monkey as a monkey wrench in game called Monkey Island. I’ve pushed ‘X’ to ‘pay my respects’ at a dead man’s funeral and I’ve pressed ‘X’ to ‘Jason’ in Heavy Rain. Video games have asked me to do a lot of strange shit but honestly…

“Dunk head in wax.”

That might be the weirdest. It’s definitely the video game prompt that forced a certain level of self-awareness upon me.

Dear video game, you are – without context – asking me to partake in an act that makes no goddamn sense whatsoever. There is no foreplay here. This isn’t a video game about Wax. This is out of the blue. Dunk your fucking head in this wax because we asked you to, because we’re extending this once in a lifetime chance to coat your head in wax. And if you don’t do it? Well just wait and see. We’re not going to tell you what happens if you don’t dunk your head in this wax. You may never know what happens if you don’t dunk your head in this wax, so just fucking do it.

Did I dunk my head in the wax?

Of course I did. This is a video game. What’s the worst that could happen?

A man chooses, a slave obeys.

Dunk head in wax.

Comments

  • All I took from this article is how punchable the main character in heavy rain is. And how devoid of fun the whole concept was. And how I never want to hear that name again.

  • i saw phantoms of other players doing this.

    i walked up & saw the prompt & just thought : “well. thats a bit dumb. not gonna be doing this. goodbye, pool of whatever the hell you claim to be but we all know its really a pool of demon spunk. goodbye & fare well. i’m off to punch a cripple & his little brother.”

    Edit: i found out later that… (spoiler for a dumb game mechanic)
    dunking your head in wax prevents curse build up from the ghost hand things

    still pointless.

    • Not just curse, it negates all damage from them whatsoever. It was always fun to run through ghost-hand gauntlets, trailing invaders who were too proud to press x to ‘dunk head in wax’, then engaging them when they start getting ghost-groped by a hundred unwelcome digits.

      • I’m kind of disappointed that there was no down-side. Since when does this game give you a free pass on an obstacle?

        • Well, if you have any regard for Fashion Souls then you’d be absolutely mortified by the visual effect!

          I’m not actually sure if it doesn’t have a negative effect, though. Like some intelligence drop or something… I was playing a STR build when I did it, noticed no real difference.

          • I can’t find anything on the wikis or forums about a negative effect. I also didn’t notice one with my str/dex build. I doubt there is any downside.

          • How is covering your head with hot wax any different to half of what a catwalk model does to themselves? 😉

    • It’s not pointless, the point of the wax is to give you a time limit between wax tubs. It’s supposed to make you plan out your route between the wax tubs and have an area where you can’t take your time in.

  • Everything in Sam and Max or any point and click where you cant solve the problem and you randomly klick items together and think… why did I tie a dead rat to the of a stick.

  • I chose not to do it, because I’m a man! A man that got smashed multiple times by the dudes the wax is meant to protect you from.

  • Bear Grylls game After you kill a snake you can skin it and pee in the inside of the skin save it for later , Drink it when the sun starts going down.

  • 1) Man I miss these articles from Mr Serrels.. nice chill anecdotal gaming stuff.. nice to see this repost

    2) I assume Kotaku has given up marking reposts as reposts now since I didnt even see the usual throw away line of this article was originally blah blah blah and only the discussion from 2016 is a clue =P

  • I actually finished this game just last week (yay for backlog progress!) and had many of the exact same thoughts about this exact part. I guessed it’d help with the level but actually assumed (again, guessed) it was going to hurt once I got to whatever the boss was so I didn’t dunk my head… from reading these comments I guess I just made it that little bit harder for myself.

    However having said that, there’s nothing unusual about the unexplained nature of the prompt in a souls game. Most of these games present you with options and choices that you have no idea of the consequences of until wayyyy later in the game. And even then only if you’ve paid very close attention lol

  • Was it Assassin’s Creed Revelations which had challenge involving discovering all the wells in the game or something? You want me to do that? No way, oh yeah, fuck off.

    How about the dad in Heavy Rain shooting hoops or juggling? The controls in that were so bad it was just a case of no way, oh yeah, fuck off.

    How about that AC challenge in one of the Ezio games, maybe AC:B? There was the one where you had to pilot a tank and not get any damage. I tried completing that a few times. After a lot of frustration, I just went, no way, oh yeah, fuck off.

    This is probably not the kind of stuff that you were expecting.

    Cripes, almost forgot…I DID do that batstupid thing in ME3 where I had Sheila Shepard do a certain number of pull-ups to impress that beefcake soldier…the things that Sheila would do to get laid. She hooked up with him that night. Then I realised that she could just have ordered him to root her.

  • Given it is Dark Souls there is probably some obscure lore which explains why the wax gives you that immunity.

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