If you loved Control but aren’t yet a fan of the SCP Foundation, now is the perfect time to get into it. The web-based collaborative fiction project, best described as our generation’s Twilight Zone, is a giant database of paranormal objects, places and ideas, cataloged in a Wikipedia-like format of containment reports that detail the efforts to capture and detain them. Both it and Control capitalize on that tantalizing contrast between the supernatural and skepticism: the sterility of an intelligence body that attempts to tame chaos by formally observing the unknown. If you like Twin Peaks, X-Files, or even Deadly Premonition, you can understand the appeal.
If you’re already a fan of the SCP project (which stands for Secure, Contain, Protect), then it’s hard to see Control as anything but an unofficial SCP game. The Federal Containment Bureau, and their efforts to track down and imprison Altered Items, share a lot of similarities with the SCP Foundation: a collection of volatile paranormal objects, batches of blacked-out report documents, a hierarchy of bureaucratic clearance levels, and a secret facility staffed by an endless supply of faceless scientists ready to die for the cause. Both delight in sharing side stories and slice-of-life flourishes through mundane aspects of its inner world like internal memos and messages scrawled on office marker boards. A major difference, however, is that Control is also set in a labyrinthian building whose dimensions and features are constantly shifting and reshaping. It also benefits from a substance called Black Rock, which insulates and subdues an object’s powers. The SCP Foundation doesn’t have either, so their containment procedures are much more complicated. But that makes each entry all the more delicious, as it lets the mystery build with each SCP as you read their containment procedure before their description.
If you’re wondering where to begin, really, there’s no perfect place to hop on the merry-go-round that is the SCP Foundation. There are literally thousands of entries, so by no means could this ever be a comprehensive list. These are just a few suggestions I have based on the characteristics and themes they share with the game (as well as a few exceptional entries I threw in just for fun). To click on a single article is to jump into one of the deepest internet rabbit holes of your life, so turn down the lights, and open up a few tabs (and whatever you do, definitely stay away from SCP-231).
10. SCP- 914 (The Clockwork Device)
Sometimes the scientists of the SCP Foundation run into an item with infinite potential for experimentation, revealing an ecosystem of interactions between the most interesting objects in the facility. The mother of all SCP deep dives, SCP-914 is a magic machine that transforms whatever is put in it, with fascinating results (especially if you mess with the settings).
For another fascinating deep dive, read up on the Olympia Project, the SCP Foundation’s attempt to use anomalous items to “successfully create an artificial humanoid through the use of several SCPs, and use it to the benefit of the Foundation.” Shudder.
9. SCP-500 (The Pills)
This SCP entry reminds me of SCP-914, in that the contained object holds an enormous amount of imaginative and creative possibilities in terms of how it interacts with other SCPs. SCP-500 is a bottle of pills that can cure any disease in the world within 24 hours of consuming—a tantalizing promise to the ever-curious scientists of the Foundation, who have motivations both scientific and personal. Find out how the bizarre and devastating illnesses stored in the Foundation respond when you read the extensive logs on this entry.
8. SCP-682 (The Reptile of Unknown Origin)
One of the oldest, most loathsome and mysterious creatures in the Foundation is SCP-682, a reptile whose origins are unknown but undoubtedly sinister. No matter what astonishing anomalous item, person or idea is placed in front of him, SCP-682 seems to sentiently hold some level of hidden knowledge about a dark universe the Foundation still knows nothing about. Ponder his curious connections to the other SCPs and what they may mean by taking a look at the experiment records, which detail the Foundation’s attempts to terminate the unkillable monster once and for all.
7. SCP-087 (The Staircase)
Like The Oldest House in Control, this entry is obviously inspired by House of Leaves, based on a space whose inner dimensions are endless and constantly shifting. At the bottom of a set of stairs on a college campus somewhere in America, what looks like a simple janitorial closet is home to something much more confounding: a bottomless staircase, and what sounds like the beckoning cries of a child.
For more on strange places, read about SCP-1983, a farmhouse with spatial anomalies that spawn humanoid shadows.
Some of the most interesting SCPs are the ones that pose unique constraints in the documenting process. SCP-2521 is not the first to make innovative use of the containment report format, but it’s definitely among the most creative, using pictographs to depict a creature who can mysteriously destroy all written evidence of its existence, prompting a unique approach to describing its qualities and containment procedures.
Similarly, there are Foundation entities whose documentation manifests the SCP’s anomalous behavior. SCP-586 is a subject whose supernatural quality dictates that any direct reference to it, such as a containment report, will inevitably include a typo or misspelling. SCP-426, meanwhile, is an arsonist toaster, who makes the author of any paper or entry referring directly to it becomes written in the first person.
(The Wooden Chair)
What happens when a sentient but benevolent SCP is damaged in the containment process? This entry is interesting to me because it suggests a nobility in the Foundation’s goals of preserving, instead of destroying, anomalous items. Take for instance SCP-1609, a curious wooden chair with a self-preservation instinct. An otherwise harmless object, SCP-1609 is capable of transporting itself anywhere it wishes, an ability it retains even after the Global Occult Coalition (an enemy of the Foundation) put it through a woodchipper. Not only does this entry raise good questions about the logistics of the SCP’s goals, it also suggests a competing ideology that is rife with juicy conflict. Whose right is it to imprison an SCP? Is it better to destroy or preserve an anomalous item? Who decides what’s classified to the public, and what is not? These questions are a constant theme in the SCP Project. But they are deliciously relevant to the FBC as well.
4. SCP-261 (The Vending Machine)
SCP-261 is among the most entertaining entries in the database, documenting a mischievous, Wonka-like vending machine that spits out food and beverages that don’t actually exist. I’m a sucker for limited and special edition junk food, especially imported stuff, so this one hits home for me. I also like that it gives an inner peek at what everyday life must be like when Foundation researchers get bored; like SCP-914 and other entries, the experimentation logs are long, but fascinating. For similar vibes, read the report on SCP-294.
3. SCP-1048 (The Teddy Bear)
One thing I don’t like about the Objects of Power and Altered Items in Control is that they’re not as random as the stuff contained by the SCP Foundation. A pram, a refrigerator, a traffic light: they’re all distinctive in shape, and almost too picturesque in their mundanity. But that said, there are a few examples in the SCP that fit that exact bill, like SCP-1048. SCP-1048 appears to be a normal but sentient teddy bear, capable of showing affection to various members of the Foundation and its staff. But when no one is looking, it gathers materials to replicate darker versions of itself, with violent and macabre results.
2. SCP-1425 (Star Signals)
SCP-1425 a long read, but a deeply captivating one, detailing a powerful self-help book, its celebrity following, and the three weeks it held the world at gunpoint with its hypnotic mass effect. I like this one because it gives a glimpse into exactly how hard and extensive the containment process can really be, especially when worldwide phenomenons are involved.
For another long read, check out SCP-342, the story of a magic universal transit ticket that traps its user on the bus…forever.
SCP-1733 isn’t just my favorite SCP. It’s my favorite horror story of all time. Formatted as a time stamped observation log, it explores the horror of a DVR that warps reality with every replay, turning an otherwise normal Celtics vs. Heat game into a nightmare. Read up on the escalating series of events trapped within this glitchy device and try not to wonder what it would be like to play it back just one more time.
Holly Green is the assistant editor of Paste Games and a reporter and semiprofessional photographer. She is also the author of Fry Scores: An Unofficial Guide To Video Game Grub. You can find her work at Gamasutra, Polygon, Unwinnable, and other videogame news publications.