I say it every year, but I’ll say it again anyway because it’s spooky time – I really, really, really love horror. Unfortunately for me, while I love horror itself, I’m also quite easily spooked, which makes a lot of horror games just a little bit too stressful. Every October I try to take a look at some horror games I liked as someone who’s not as big on shooting zombies while running down a hall or hiding in a panic inside a locker while a monster lumbers by. I rely a lot on atmosphere and story-heavy horror games to get my spooks – think Tokyo Dark, Layers of Fear…
So for today’s Order Up! I’d like to talk about three little rpgmaker horror games that I had fun playing recently. Both of these are easily played in one or two sittings, and can be a fun little adventure if you’re craving a creepy story without having to spend hours in the same game. While there definitely are some chase scenes involved in most, generally they involve learning and understanding your environment to stay alive.
So are you looking for an evening of exploring abandoned spaces, quelling the rage of angry spirits, and listening to your footsteps echo in the silence?
You might want to try out…
The Witch’s House
I feel like listing this is almost cheating, as it’s one of the more well-known titles of its kind, but it was an excellent Halloween adventure so I can’t skip it.
The Witch’s House takes its player to a creepy, uncomfortable mansion in a deep, deep wood. Unfortunately, it’s also the home of an evil witch, and there’s plenty inside trying to stop you from ever leaving again. Can you figure out how to escape the mansion and return home?
The Witch’s House has some fantastic atmosphere going. As you wander through dark, old rooms, you’ll be wary of everything around you, fully expecting something awful to appear at any moment. There are a number of chases that take place, but otherwise you’ll be figuring out a lot of puzzles to stay alive, and simply learning how to avoid death. As you continue to make your way through a seemingly impossible maze of rooms, passages, and traps, you’ll uncover a story almost as twisty as your path itself.
Misao was a shy, quiet girl. She didn’t have a lot of friends and wasn’t terribly popular, which is why Aki is regretful after she disappears – she had wanted to be her friend, and now she worries she won’t get the chance. Three months after Misao’s disappearance, Aki’s world is turned upside down, however, when one day at school she and several others are dragged into another world, in which they have to explore and figure out how to escape a half-destroyed school that seems like it would easily fit into any hellscape.
As you explore the school with Aki, you can encounter numerous bad ends and deaths with each misstep or mistake – it actually was kind of fun to figure out what would happen where, and how to avoid it in the future. You don’t do anything in the way of combat, but there will be a lot of evils to figure out how to avoid.
As you make your way through the mysterious school, you’ll start to piece together what happened to soft-spoken Misao, and begin to question everyone around you.
It’s a surprisingly heart-wrenching game and I really loved playing it. Unlike The Witch’s House, however, I started to feel less like something might come after me any moment, and simply more attentive to my creepy surroundings. It’s a fun, spooky little game, especially if you’re not as big on sudden jumpscares (though there still are some!)
The Crooked Man
David needs a fresh start in life. His mom is sick, he’s had a rough time, and a recent breakup is just adding to the stress and sense of loss. But when his friend Paul helps him get a new apartment for that fresh start, it kickstarts a horrific adventure instead. Noises at night, messages on the walls, notes left behind… David’s new apartment seems to have some ghostly happenings going on. Thinking it might somehow be related to the previous tenant, he decides to start looking into it, but all he really learns is that it was a young man about his age. When the next note includes a mysterious address on it, he decides he’ll travel wherever in order to solve the mystery…
You’ll take David through four different abandoned areas to search for clues. Unfortunately for him, there’s also something following him… who (or what) is the crooked man, and what does he want?
This one is a bit unusual in the sense that it actually does include some combat scenes, which I’ll admit weren’t always the most fun (the final one in particular stressed me out a bunch), but aren’t terribly difficult as you learn how to react. Otherwise, encounters are about understanding the spaces around you and your inventory, and it can be a lot of fun to figure out how to chase off your pursuer.
There were times I felt the story dragged out just a little too long as David tries to help those around him with their predicaments, but the exploration and puzzles were enjoyable, and the sound design was incredibly unsettling. This is the first in a series, so I’ll be back after I try out the next ones too!
Got anything fun and spooky to suggest this month? Send it our way! I love to check out creepy titles all year round.
Order Up! is a weekly column featuring indie-focused reviews, news, or interviews! We like old games just as much as new ones and are always looking for something to check out. Have a game recommendation, a project, or a company you want to talk about? Email me at [email protected] or find me on Twitter @ArcanaChance