As far as misleading appearances in video games go, the 2010 indie hit Eversion takes the cake. Whereas on the surface, it appears to be yet another forgettable Super Mario Bros clone, it is actually one of the most uniquely creepy psychological horror games ever made. Yes, you read that right. That incredibly cheerful-looking title will actually wind up most likely haunting your nightmares for days on end. Yes, I am completely serious.
Deceivingly starting off the same way millions of thinly veiled Mario homages/ripoffs do, with our hero (in this case, a cute little flower creature named Zee Tee) setting off to-wait for it-save the princess, Eversion adds an interesting twist: by pressing X in certain places, you can literally move (or, as the game puts it, “evert”) between different layers of reality. While this ability can help you navigate some of the complicated landscapes here (for example, clouds in the first layer are just background objects that can easily be passed through, but passing to the next makes them solid and able to be walked on), it also changes the game from happy and tot-friendly into…well…something else entirely. Going into any further detail would obviously spoil the effect, but suffice it to say that things go downhill pretty quickly.
Though it easily could’ve been a boring, generic gorefest in other hands, the obviously dedicated work of Zarat Studios (who unfortunately has never released another game as of the moment, nor shown any indication that they ever will) makes Eversion a subversive, original, and extremely atmospheric twisting of the “retro platformer” genre refreshingly devoid of cheap jumpscares or pointless shock value. Admittedly, it is a bit short (especially considering the $4.99 price for its current HD edition on Steam; the original free version is virtually gone at this point), but the many secrets hidden within the game’s worlds (hint: collect gems. All of them) reward multiple explorations. Just make absolutely sure no young children are around first before launching it.