World of Horror is a creepy machine that’s proud of its inspirations

I am completely engulfed in a bundle of spider silk, with only my eyes still visible as I wait for my turn to be swallowed. I have failed to save the city from the insatiable Arachnidian Old God, and now I and all the inhabitants of Shiokawa, Japan have fallen into its web. This time I came this far, solved all the mysteries on my bulletin board, but in the end, I couldn’t escape the destruction that was looming over me.

If scary world It can be summed up in one word, it would be “fear.” It is a point-and-click cosmic horror game created by Polish developer and dentist, Paweł Kozminski (also known as Panestaz). And after spending several years in early access, Ysbryd Games finally released it to the public this month on Steam, PlayStation 4 and 5, and Nintendo Switch. It was well worth the wait.

scary world is heavily text-based, and plays like a choose your own adventure story – in which most of your choices are bad ones that will inevitably lead you to a gruesome death or irreversible madness. Players must solve five mysteries that are troubling the townspeople, gathering information and fighting demonic entities that attempt to get in your way. Here a slippery, boil-covered former teacher, there a woman with pieces of broken ribs stuck into the gaping hole in her face.

All the while, you’ll be working to survive the race that the Old God has set his sights on, Shiokawa, and you’ll have to keep track of the ever-ticking Doom to find out how close you are to being overcome. Have to keep an eye on the meter. Only after solving each of the five mysteries and obtaining the five keys can you open the town lighthouse, where you can banish the Old God. That is, if you are able to make it through the trials on your way to the top. This is also a roguelite, so be prepared to start from the beginning every time you make a fatal mistake.

The horror-manga-style RPG doesn’t hide its Junji Ito and HP Lovecraft influences. It is so unsettling that you will find yourself restless and stressed even when nothing is happening, which happens most of the time in some investigations. Evil may not be coming to you right away, but there is a feeling that it could come at any turn.

World of Horror features a bloodied-faced woman in a battle scene, wearing a maroon and black color palette
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When those little jump scares come—a particularly belligerent attacker or a pounding sound that cuts to the chiptune score—they’re made all the more unsettling by the high-contrast 1- or 2-bit visuals (you can start by ) ) which were incredibly created in MS Paint. It’s often hard to digest Ito-esque gore, and there are some scenes I had to force myself not to turn away from (a certain DIY eyeball operation comes to mind).

In terms of difficulty and complexity, you are given a few options to progress in the game. Its short tutorial, “The Shocking Story of School Scissors” is a straightforward introduction. And in the entry-level main story mode, “Extracurricular Activities,” you’ll start out with a mystery already solved.

Players also have the option of a “quick play” mode, in which elements such as your character, the Old God, and backstory are chosen at random, or a fully customized playthrough where you choose your own character and story elements. That last one is the most challenging route. If you want to mix it up, you can also choose from several color palettes at the start of each game.

Game mode screen in World of Horror, using a black and mustard yellow color palette
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Although the turn-based combat is nothing revolutionary, I found it quite engaging. There’s no guarantee that all of your hits will be successful, and relying on spiritual attacks when going up against a Ghost-type enemy is a stressful game of “guess the right combo.” This keeps things interesting while still being a little disappointing. Since the races are relatively short – about an hour, give or take 30 minutes – it doesn’t feel soul-crushing every time you die and have to start over. Whatever happens, it becomes an addictive cycle.

Where? scary world Excel’s attention to detail is truly scintillating. The TV playing in your home constantly plays horrifying newscasts, including one about a dentist who replaced his human patients’ teeth with dog teeth. (Remember, the developer is also a dentist). Look through the peephole of your apartment door and you might see a shadowy man down the hall, or the rapidly receding face of someone hiding around the corner, or simply an empty corridor. Twisted ghosts wait behind closed classroom doors.

When you come back things are rarely the same. Each mystery has multiple endings and multiple ways to get there, so you can’t predict what’s going to happen next, even if you’ve played 10 runs in a row. Some stories are more involved than others and are better thought out. But each has at least one terrifying element that justifies its place among the rest. If scary world Whatever it is, it’s effective, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it.

This article was originally published on Engadget

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