Panstasz’s spine-tingling 1 to 2-bit horror game, World of Horror, originally launched in early access in 2020. Now, it has finally arrived on Steam and modern consoles, ready to haunt your dreams.
The Mysterious Town of Shiokawa: A Sinister Setting
Step into the eerie town of Shiokawa in May of 1984, where World of Horror plunges you into the shoes of an Investigator. Your mission? To thwart one of the Old Gods’ sinister schemes to awaken and unleash terror upon the Earth. To accomplish this, you must ascend the ominous Shiokawa lighthouse, but there’s a catch. You must first solve five chilling mysteries plaguing the town to unlock the lighthouse’s forbidding door.
As you delve into each mystery, you’ll confront increasingly horrifying events, racing against time to save the world from descending into madness. Your Investigator and their companions must emerge from each mystery with their stamina and reason intact, but the challenges they face are relentless.
World of Horror unveils the pixelated town of Shiokawa with hauntingly beautiful visuals and a retro-inspired soundtrack that adapts to the eerie atmosphere. The game presents you with five randomly selected mysteries, each with titles reminiscent of tales by Junji Ito.
Challenging Mysteries: From Psychological to Cosmic Horror
To aid you on your journey, your Investigator receives a starting item or perk offering unique advantages. For instance, Haru, one of the Investigators, stands out with his increased strength, making combat more manageable when playing as him. Meanwhile, Mizuki Hamasaki excels at recruiting allies, which can prove invaluable.
Allies come with special abilities, from healing your Investigator to boosting damage during battles. They can also serve as a distraction, absorbing damage for one turn, even if it puts their lives on the line. They can assist in locating useful items when requested.
However, there’s a downside. Your chosen Investigator also bears a disadvantage, like Mizuki losing reason if she fails to recruit enough allies. Haru, on the other hand, develops a nicotine addiction when using cigarettes, which serves as his starting item.
The five mysteries range from relatively easy to potentially leaving your Investigator on the brink of survival, both mentally and physically. The game offers a captivating mix of psychological, body, and cosmic horror. One tutorial-like mystery introduces a scissor-wielding ghost woman reminiscent of Junji Ito’s creations, while another delves into sinister cults plotting an attack on a village preparing for a festival.
These mysteries are engaging, even if you might not always succeed in your initial playthroughs, whether due to combat encounters or the lack of the right skills for a better ending.
Eerie Encounters: The Darker Side of Events
While investigating a mystery, you’ll spend most of your time exploring various locations in Shiokawa to advance the story. Each location, whether a store or a place to acquire items, provides valuable resources for your Investigator. However, visiting these places may increase your Investigator’s doom meter. When the doom meter hits 100, it’s game over. Managing this meter is crucial.
Sometimes, you’ll explore different maps and must investigate each area to uncover the event that propels the mystery’s story. Additionally, you’ll receive side quests, from completing tasks to exploring areas that provide valuable insights, such as crucial items for defeating a boss or new choices for a better ending.
Boss battles featuring monstrous foes occur near the mysteries’ conclusions. Each mystery concludes with an ending, which can vary from happy outcomes to eerie ones, where a friend might vanish forever, consumed by the Old Gods’ horrors. Events your Investigator encounters can provide advantages, such as weapons, doom meter reduction, or new spells. However, most of these events carry a sinister undertone, and even learning spells, whether for healing or combat, can cost your Investigator some of their reason.
A True Horror Experience: Nostalgia Meets Dread
Combat in World of Horror pits you against uniquely designed, terrifying foes. You can engage in physical combat using weapons or spells or employ spiritual abilities, like rituals that involve clapping or bowing. Enemies aim to deplete your Investigator’s reason and stamina or increase the doom meter. Some foes can target all three aspects simultaneously, adding a layer of difficulty to the game.
Fortunately, escaping from enemies is an option, though it prevents your Investigator from gaining experience points, which can be used to unlock one of three randomized skills, enhance a stat, or regain health.
World of Horror offers a nightmarish experience that hearkens back to the horror games of the late 1980s and early 1990s, played on old computers. With each playthrough, you unlock new events and characters, making each experience distinct and preventing you from falling into the Old Gods’ sinister traps.
As a fan of Junji Ito and the Arkham Horror franchise, World of Horror instantly drew me in, delivering terrifying encounters and paying homage to various horror-related works. If you’re not a fan of the game’s visuals, you can adjust them at the start of every playthrough, from black and white to green or beige. These options allow you to settle into your preferred visual style before diving headfirst into the unsettling world of horror, best enjoyed in a dark room in the dead of night for the ultimate spine-tingling experience.
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