The Devil’s LabyrinthMarch 8, 2007
[Originally published in the Second Life Herald]
Onder Skall reports from The Devil’s Labyrinth, Rivata (178, 178, 45)
I find myself faced with a monstrous build. The castle looms above me with the massive portcullis open, flames leaping upwards, and a pedestal that beckons me to enter after, apparently, harvesting my soul. I set the sun to midnight and step into the Devil’s Labyrinth.
The foyer features a brain and a severed head in jars, and as I look at the family portraits they change before my eyes. The whole thing has a Barnum & Bailey feeling to it, except perhaps for the insects scurrying on the ground. There’s only one door, but it seems to open to a rather unremarkable room. Upon entering, however, I find myself in a completely different kind of environment. The room is full of flames, chains, and severed limbs. From my speakers I hear screams and a booming voice yells: “Welcome to hell!”
Alright, so it’s a bit over-the-top, but if you’re going to make a haunted house you might as well commit. You can tell that Colin Nilsson was committed when he built this thing – take that with whatever meaning you see fit. The build spans over 20k square meteres and uses teleports to move you vertically in order to make the place seem even larger. I spent at least an hour there on my first visit, have returned a few times since, and still haven’t seen everything.
Touring the castle is a lot like walking through a haunted house in a theme park. You know it’s all fake, and some of it inevitably just strikes you as funny, but at the same time you can’t help getting nervous. What is it about places like these that get us feeling a little freaked out, despite ourselves?
What I really love about the build is the variety of experiences here. There is always more than one path to the more interesting rooms, and the rooms themselves aren’t always that easy to exit. I find myself on a number of occasions looking for some trigger to open a secret door, and in so doing setting off a number of creepy objects. One room suddenly goes black as I cross it, and translucent visions of clowns and ghouls drift all around me. I don’t care who you are; that’s just creepy.
There are also rooms specifically built to be enigmatic. The doors of tv static, for instance, or the completely white room that makes you feel like you’re walking in nothingness… these rooms, while you may not think about them at the time, take you off guard for the next horrific vision. After awhile these occasional odd experiences take their toll. I find myself just wanting things to make sense, which forces me to try and picture the reasons behind everything I see. The transforming pictures, which I brushed off before, are now a creepy mystery that needs solving. What’s doing this? Who is responsible? Should I be worried?
By the time I leave I’ve been through graveyards, catacombs, and a demonic chapel. I’ve seen ghouls, ghosts, spiders, and lots of blood. Still, there are doors I haven’t opened and pathways I have yet to walk. You can bet that I’ll be back.