World of Horror
Panstasz / Ysbryd Games
I honestly didn’t think much of World of Horror when I first saw it on Steam. Its graphics looked rather lackluster and I wondered who would develop such a simple-looking video game. But then I checked out some of the game’s reviews (they are currently Overwhelmingly Positive on Steam) and decided to research it a little more.
When I discovered that World of Horror’s storytelling and art style was similar to the works of Japanese mangaka, Junji Ito, I became even more interested in it. Ito has stated that his many horror manga were influenced by several people including the literary works of none other than H.P. Lovecraft, so you can see many of the aesthetics of cosmic horror in both Ito’s work as well as in this game.
When you boot up World of Horror, you can choose to play in either a 1-bit or 2-bit graphics display. Since 2-bit offers a little more in the way of shading, I chose that mode. It is then recommended that you play the game’s initial story called: “The Spine-chilling Tale of School Scissors.” You can also choose to opt-into a mode that teaches you the game’s tutorial with regards to its combat mechanics, which I did.
This initial story is very unnerving because it utilizes the keen sense of isolation that any great horror film or game does. It reminded me of the 2007 J-Horror film, Slit-Mouthed Woman, but I won’t go into any spoilers here. Let’s just say that you start off as a young girl living in the rainy seaside town of Shiokawa, Japan, and many of the townspeople have gone missing. There have also been carious reports of horrific eldritch gods and other cosmic monstrosities sighted within the area.
Each of the game’s adventures can be played over the course of several hours and there are multiple tangents that occur throughout each one, which does wonders for the game’s replayability. The decisions your character makes matters immensely and determine whether they survive, died a horrible death at the hands (or claws or tentacles) of some fiendish creature, or go insane from witnessing something extremely frightening. This is definitely a rogue-like game because you’ll probably die a lot as you struggle to get to the bottom of each terror-inducing storyline.
Visually, World of Horror’s MS-DOS-like, black and white graphics actually fit its 80s settings quite well. They gradually seemed to grow more sinister, the more time I played throughout each story. The designs of the various malicious entities that you come across are also very creepy, which enhances the game’s minimalist aesthetics. In the case of World of Horror, less is definitely more, since the game forces you to engage your imagination. It’s almost unbelievable that the game was created using Microsoft Paint.
World of Horror’s various songs are also very well done and its minimalist tones match the 1 or 2 bit visuals. Combined with its graphics, the music gives the game an unnerving, suspenseful vibe that makes you think about it well after you’re done playing it. The music seems casual yet creepy when your character is investigating clues or performing the game’s more mundane tasks, and then turns very sinister when you encounter entities.
In all, World of Horror is a frightening horror experience that harkens back to both the text-based, as well as MS-DOS-type games of the 80s. It manages to expertly emulate the overall vibe of the works of Ito and Lovecraft while offering plenty of uniqueness in its own right. Playing it at night with the lights off can be quite a horrific gaming experience.
World of Horror has some pretty good looking graphics that make its horror gameplay truly shine. However, you want to have a pretty beefy gaming PC or gaming laptop in order to play it at a decent framerate. So, you may just want to invest in a decent gaming rig:
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