Preview: World of Horror

Things aren’t quite right in this 1980s seaside Japanese town. If that simple introduction rings any bells for you then this game, self-described as a love letter to Junji Ito’s revolutionary Japanese horror stories, might be for you. World of Horror is a text-based, retro-style adventure with a 1-bit or 2-bit style as a tribute to classic Macintosh design. 

After watching the trailer I was admittedly frightened as it seems developer Panstasz has created the exact recipe for my perfect game. World of Horror, published by Ysbryd Games, enters Steam Early Access on February 20th. I’ve spent a bit of time exploring all that the Old Gods of World of Horror have cooked up and let me say, there’s quite a bit to unpack here.

Setting the stage of a great homage to Junji Ito, World of Horror takes place in a seaside town condemned to destruction by the Old Gods. Strange events have been occurring throughout the area and it’s your job, as the great horror protagonist that you are, to solve the various mysteries of the game. Each time you play you will have the chance to play as a different protagonist, which can come with its own perks or disadvantages. During any single play-through, you will also have the ability to solve five different cases which can vary on every play-through depending on the Old God watching over your town. 

A text-based, retro-style horror adventure might sound simple but don’t be fooled. World of Horror utilizes classic RPG status management mechanics to make it a challenge to not just keep your character alive, but also to keep them from slipping into insanity. Items can be purchased from a variety of locations throughout the game to restore your statuses as well.

While unraveling the mysterious goings-on of this seaside town you’ll meet a cast of strange and hair-raising characters. From your neighbor who writes horror manga himself, to the friendly Shiba Inu that runs a convenience store downtown, there’s no shortage of interesting interactions in this game. Character features are one of the many areas where World of Horror takes the opportunity to make references to fantastic horror stories throughout time or give a nod to the greats that came before it. 

Throughout solving the mysteries around town you’ll face combat with enemies created from the evil nature of the Old Gods. Combat feels simple, albeit frustrating at times, with its turn-based chance mechanics. There are plenty of options for recovery of both health and sanity throughout combat but it becomes easy to fail with too many wrong moves. This, coupled with environmental factors through the passage of time or choices made while solving mysteries, can make it hard to beat the game quickly, if at all. But the challenge isn’t frustrating by any means; the challenge continues to feel good and the ever-changing mysteries to solve have a variety of their own endings you can discover. This leads to plenty of replayability in the long run and kept me coming back to try and beat the demo.

If you’re a fan of classic horror stories, especially the work of Junji Ito and other great writers, then World of Horror is for you. Even if classic horror isn’t your thing, but mysterious stories and text-based retro adventures sound intriguing to you, this is a game you should at least check out. Exploring the horrors of this seaside town, as well as the different solutions to the text-based adventure, and managing to keep your player alive are all done while having an enjoyable time in this ode to the greats of horror. For as many times as this game features love letters to tales from the past, there could be plenty of opportunities for World of Horror to receive its own words of affirmation if the final release builds off of this amazing foundation of the demo. 

Review copy provided by Ysbryd Games for Steam. Screenshots taken by writer as well as courtesy of Ysbryd Games.