Tested the World of Horror demo, out on Steam in early access in February
I follow World of Horror since the first information about this indie horror started circulating online last year. It is a terribly interesting project in its intentions: a video game that mixes graphic adventure and RPG with turn-based combat immersed in a setting inspired by the works of Junji Ito (and therefore, consequently, to HPLovecraft). It was recently announced that early access on Steam will be available on February 20, so I decided to put my hand to the demo of the PC version, which can be downloaded for free from the official website.
There are so many reasons why World of Horror caught my attention.
First of all, the ambitious choice to hybridize the graphic adventure with the typical elements of the RPG: turn-based combat, inventory, equipment and spells to be used in battle, as well as a good dose of statistics for each character.
Also, the game is published by Ysbryd Games, former producers of VA-11 Hall-A and imminent N1 RV Ann-A, synonymous with quality in the indie field.
However, the element that most of all made me straighten my antennas is its aesthetics.
A 1-bit horror manga
Junji Ito is a horror mangaka, famous for chilling works like Uzumaki and Tomie. He is considered the Japanese heir to HP Lovecraft due to his fondness for cosmic horror and fear of the unknown.
Panstasz, pseudonym behind which the only author behind the World of Horror project is hidden, has declared that he wants to recreate the atmospheres of the manga of Junji Ito. World of Horror therefore presents itself with a very specific graphic design: a very low resolution, 1-bit, black and white world.
Ah, yes, everything has been created with Microsoft Paint.
The result is that the World of Horror demo looks like cursed software found in an abandoned archive, ready to unleash a terrible hellish curse on anyone who gets involved in curiosity. A sort of digital Necronomicon.
The atmosphere of the game closely resembles those of one of the greatest masterpieces of the master Ito: Uzumaki. We are in a coastal town in Japan, in the 80s. One of the great ancients, gods who ruled the earth long before the advent of humans, has awakened, setting off a wave of contagious madness in the city. Our task will be to accompany various characters on an investigative adventure to find out how to stop the divinity and delay the apocalypse.
You fight, in turns, against terrifying creatures.
Junji Ito and the video game It is not the first time that the world of video games and Junji Ito meet: the mangaka had already collaborated with Hideo Kojima for the realization of Silent Hills, and also appears in a cameo in Death Stranding.
The World of Horror demo immediately presents itself in all its retro indie horror splendor. The disturbing chiptune soundtrack welcomes us to the menu, from which a good amount of graphic settings are also accessible to customize the experience. We are given the option to set the graphics to 2 bit to slightly increase the level of detail on the screen and to apply various color filters. The demo is very short, and presents us with one of the many stories that can be faced in the full game.
The interface at first seems a bit confusing and it is not immediately clear how to move between the various menus. You learn quickly, it must be said, but initially the amount of information on the screen can be a bit stifling; from a certain point of view this contributes to making the unhealthy atmosphere of the game perceptible, which takes us disoriented and at the mercy of the chaos that has hit the city. The exploration of the various game areas is rather schematic, and I hope that the final version of World of Horror integrates some small additions that make this aspect more substantial, which otherwise risks becoming a bit repetitive in the long run. A completely different story regarding the fights. It's all about fights in shifts with terrifying beings, created with maniacal care, and the variety of possible actions is truly enormous.
Perfect for the mouse, but consoles?
The World of Horror demo is available exclusively on PC, although a version for Playstation and one for switch. The mouse, at the moment, seems to be the best peripheral to tackle Panstasz's game, while its interface seems to marry badly with home console controllers. We will have to see what the game will look like on consoles; at the moment the various menus seem to marry badly with the nature of Duashock and Joycon, and the risk is that the experience will be penalized.
I look forward to being able to put my hand to the full game, theoretically arriving by the end of 2020. For the moment, expectations are very high for what is one of the most fascinating indie horror projects ever developed.
Comment World of Horror perfectly reworks the atmospheres of J-Horror and in particular those of Junji Ito's manga. The mix between graphic adventure and RPG is very interesting, as is its graphics, but it risks being an awkward game to manage with the controllers of any home console. Pros and cons ✓ The 1bit aesthetic is beautifully built
✓ Very high replayability rate
✓ Multiple endings x Unintuitive interface
x There is a risk that on console it will be particularly uncomfortable