The internet is rife with conspiracy theories involving the Illuminati, the New World Order, and poorly disguised lizard people in positions of power, but those aren’t the only theories attracting attention. Popular video game theories take beloved franchises and challenge the presented narrative, questioning whether your favorite franchise is telling an entirely different story.
We’re looking at five of the most interesting theories—not necessarily the most believable—to see how they change our ideas about our favorite games. Warning: these theories contain MASSIVE SPOILERS for Mass Effect and Five Nights at Freddy’s.
Mass Effect‘s Indoctrination Theory
Many fans were disappointed with Mass Effect 3‘s ending, but not all fans let the series end on such a sour note. Some dedicated Mass Effect players got to thinking, what if the weird color coding of the endings, the mysterious child Shepard keeps seeing, and the strange dreams Shepard has were all tied together as symptoms of his or her indoctrination?
Indoctrination, the Reapers’ method of converting people to their causes, has a variety of symptoms explored through the Mass Effect games, comics, and novels, including hallucinations, paranoia, and a belief that the Reapers can be reasoned with or controlled. Throw those ideas in with Mass Effect‘s color-coded ending, and you have a conspiracy theory that makes considerable sense.
If Shepard is indoctrinated, that explains why the endings—Control being blue and Destroy being red—go against the idea that ‘red’ means bad and ‘blue’ means good. It also explains why Destroy is the only ending that can end in Shepard’s survival, and why Shepard’s eyes glow blue in the Control and Synthesis endings, just as the Illusive Man’s do after his indoctrination.
It’s a complex theory that BioWare has never debunked, but, like most video game theories, it has a few holes. While red and blue are commonly taken to signify bad and good, they actually stand for Renegade and Paragon, which are better assigned to ruthlessness and diplomacy, not moral stances. BioWare’s extended ending for Mass Effect 3 also confirms that Shepard, Anderson, and the Illusive Man make it to the Citadel, though it could be argued that the extended ending is also taking place in Shepard’s mind.
Whether true or not, the Indoctrination Theory seriously challenges the way we look at Mass Effect‘s plot. And it’s the only theory on this list with a two-hour documentary arguing for its existence, proving the dedication fans feel to this beloved series.
All Nintendo Games Take Place in the Same Universe
The existence of Super Smash Bros. seems to completely support the idea that all Nintendo games are part of the same universe, but this theory goes far beyond a simple fighting game to conclude that, not only do these games share the same universe, but characters like Star Fox are actually highly evolved Pokémon.
There are quite a few shades to this theory. It’s easy enough to make connections between the Zelda universe and the Mario Universe, as several Zelda games contain portraits of Mario characters and Link appears in Super Mario RPG. From there, things get a little stranger—Samus appears in Kirby’s Dream Land 3, and creatures very similar to metroids appear in Kid Icarus.
But this theory can go even further. In the Mother series, Giygas imbues fungi, plants, and animals with sentience. If they retain their powers beyond the end of the game, magic animals and plants could quite easily bleed right into Pokémon. And if sentient animals keep evolving, Animal Crossing isn’t a long logical leap away. And if their intelligence keeps growing, what’s to stop the evolved Pokémon from going to space as Star Fox?
Sure, it’s a convoluted theory that could easily be dismissed as layers of Easter eggs and wild speculation on the part of fans. But considering the existence of Super Smash Brothers, either lots of beloved characters are capable of interdimensional travel or there’s some continuity in the Nintendo universe, tenuous as it may be.
Five Nights at Freddy’s is All a Dream
The ‘all a dream’ twist is usually considered to be a massive copout from a writing perspective, but this theory serves Five Nights at Freddy’s pretty well. At face value, Five Nights at Freddy’s is a game of jump scares and resource management. And while that’s not untrue, paying attention to more than just the angry animatronics reveals more of a plot than might be expected.
First, there’s the in-game lore. Thanks to phone messages from an unknown source and newspaper clippings scattered through the game, you can find out that Freddy Fazbear’s is hardly an innocuous children’s restaurant. Five children have gone missing, and a bite from one of the animatronics resulted in the loss of one patron’s frontal lobe. That’s creepy enough, but fan theories take it a step further—what if the player character is not merely a nighttime security guard, but actually the murderer of the five missing children who is caught in a nightmare version of reality?
It sounds pretty out there, especially when you throw in the real life events that may have inspired the game’s sinister story, but there’s evidence to back it up, too. Hallucinations over the course of the game include flashing text that reads, “IT’S ME,” and posters that occasionally show crying children. Couple that with the player’s incredibly low pay for a job that could literally kill you, and you have the makings of a compelling theory.
Because the game’s plot is fairly sparse, fan theories are especially popular for the Five Nights at Freddy’s series, though some have been debunked in later games. Regardless, speculation continues as to what exactly is going on in this series, cementing it as an interesting, if not entirely provable, video game fan theory.
What are your favorite video game theories?