Well, that was fast. Nier: Automata’s secret door—the very same one that’s fractured the game’s fandom into factions—went from an amusing little secret to a viral meme in three days flat.
The Door, in case you haven’t followed the most baffling gaming story of the year, refers to a hidden location in Nier: Automata, an action-RPG first released in 2017. One player, known only by their Reddit handle, Sadfutago, stumbled upon a door, behind which is a fully rendered church. It sounds innocuous enough, but here’s where it gets weird: They’re the only known player who’s seen this area. And no one, seemingly including Sadfutago, knows how to enter the room.
The whole saga is wild, and still unfolding (here’s a thorough rundown). Some think it’s cut content or some other type of legitimate game asset. Others believe it’s fake: a hoax, a sophisticated mod, or an ill-advised attempt at viral marketing. The mystery has fans gathering in various Nier-themed subreddits and Discord servers to try and collectively crack the code.
The rest of the internet, meanwhile, is doing what it does best: Meme the heck out of it. This montage sums up the community reaction pretty well:
What if, for instance, Super Mario 64 also had its own version of The Door?
Folks are also drawing comparisons to media outside the world of games. To wit: Actor-comedian Nathan Fielder is back in the public arena due to his new HBO show, The Rehearsal, in which he constructs elaborate sets for the purposes of trickery. The Nier community has drawn an obvious corollary:
Others have likened it to scenes from Amazon’s The Boys, an eminently memeable show:
For some players, the saga has rekindled a dormant love for Nier: Automata—one of the best games of all time, yes, but also a dense action-RPG that can consume hours and hours of your life:
Obligatory Hozier references abound:
Followed by obligatory Doctor Who references:
There’s also no shortage of eye-wateringly gorgeous fan art, like this piece from digital artist MalphieR:
Despite all the buzz, Nier: Automata fans are no closer to figuring out what the hell The Door’s deal is. Just last night, Sadfutago posted a new video. In it, they fight a boss composed of pixelated blocks…and get summarily obliterated. It has sent the Nier subreddits and Discord servers into a tizzy, as folks try to figure out who the enemy is, where it’s from, or what it could mean.
“I...can’t fathom how this can possibly be real or how this can possibly be fake,” one person wrote on Reddit in response. “What.”