I never want to find out the true origins of Whacked-Out Entertainment’s Oblivion NPC Dialogue videos. To find out would be to break the magic. Because this is magic in its purest form. It’s a guy called Greg Thompson, and his relationship with a disembodied voice, all presented as if scenes from The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. No, it doesn’t make sense. Yes, it’s perfect.
Right, so obviously these must have originally been some sort of English language tutorial videos: the stilted, e-nunci-at-ed de-liv-er-y, the combination of past, present and future tenses, all makes that pretty unequivocal. We also know it’s 1987, because when Greg rides a unicycle he tells us he’s been riding it for 15 years, since 1972. But nothing else must be learned.
What takes true genius is to find these videos, then realize that it’s necessary to put Oblivion music in the background, overlay it with an Elder Scrolls UI, and caption all the dialogue in Bethesda’s font.
The result is utterly compelling. We watch Greg as he goes to the grocery store. We see Greg writing a letter to his father. We hear Greg urgently egged on (by the narrator, dubbed Mr Perfect by viewing YouTubers) to consume a sandwich. We see the results of Greg’s hubris as he boldly claims he cannot be hurt sliding on the wet floor.
I don’t know why this is perfect, but this is perfect. It’s so unnerving, so uncanny, like watching an alien race’s pantomime of human beings. Greg looks so awkward in his skin, moving as if it’s his first go in a human body, his eyes staring—always staring. This is only made more joyful by the extra effort by the creators, putting the narrator’s words into dialogue choice boxes, and Greg’s replies as NPC chatter. And gosh, the apposite music choices.
This is all made even lovelier by its low-key status (that clearly I’m ruining right now), just 150 people watching, and the YouTube chat—in what is surely a first in YouTube’s entire history—being pleasant, funny, and good natured. The live video above eventually loops around, but only after more than long enough. Or you can find individual ones on these folks’ channel. I especially recommend Greg’s visit to the grocery store with his very temporary, very tall partner. Greg thinks he’ll be able to manage with just a basket... Oh, Greg!
(Updated 3/3/22 with new details)