I’m quite the enthusiast of Japanese horror, so when I first saw World of Horror from Pawel Kozminski my interest was piqued. I have a shelf dedicated to Junji Ito’s works, and the longtime horror manga artist’s style of body horror is a source of inspiration for the game.
After getting hands-on with the title though, I discovered influences from classic JRPGs, detective visual novels, and adventure games on top of its distinct collection of cosmic horror narratives. I went through two vignettes of this upcoming horror anthology and realized that there’s a lot more to the game than I originally assumed.
Entering a World of Horror
Talking with Kozminski while I played, it was apparent that he was very enthusiastic about psychological horror. The humble Polish game developer is the sole creative force behind the game, and he knows his horror. He was quick to mention the likes of Lovecraft and Ito being inspirations, but his understanding of the nuances of the horror genre have enabled World of Horror to have an identity of its own.
The two stories I played, while both occurring in the same Japanese coastal town, had distinct flavors. One depicted a young girl at a funeral who discovers her family member’s dead body is being used in a secretive ritual. The other involved the mystery of a murderous ghoul haunting a student’s school whose trademark murder weapon is a pair of scissors. While one was more like slasher horror and the other seemingly more psychological, they both utilized tension and atmosphere effectively.
RPG elements fully flesh out this terrifying experience
The stories also had many different endings and ways to unfold. However, they aren’t just filled with text to read and the occasional decision to make. In World of Horror, there are facets of RPGs and adventure games. From contextual puzzles to battles and skill-checks, there’s a lot to the gameplay.
While the battle system is based primarily on your stats (it’s very RNG), there are also a lot of sure-fire ways to approach situations. If you do the right amount of exploration, you may uncover a solution to seal away an enemy and not have to fight them at all. With these elements, Kozminski explained that he wants the game’s individual stories to be akin to a “roguelike” that encourages replayability.
Nightmares of the 1-bit variety
Lots of indie games have gone retro with their visuals for various reasons, but World of Horror is especially distinct. It’s a variation on 1-bit computer graphics, a minimalist style that utilizes a two-tone color palette in juxtaposition with pixel art. Return of the Obra Dinn is an example of it used it in a first-person perspective. Notably, the lack of color leaves the more grisly situations in World of Horror up to your imagination. Pawel informed me that a great deal of the pixel art was done in MS Paint, which astounded me.
Overall, I walked away excited to play through World of Horror when it lands on Switch. I think there’s a lot more meat to the game than people have been expecting, and it seems Kozminski is going to be able to make a significant stamp on a genre he cherishes.
Are you excited for World of Horror when it releases later this year? Let us know in the comments below.