A couple weeks ago, an obscure horror game released on Steam. We’re talking about World of Horror, an old-school point-and-click RPG that mixes elements from two of the most famous icons of the horror genre: Junji Ito and Howard Phillips Lovecraft. After playing non-stop for a whole day, we feel the urge to talk about how this game really takes you back to the golden era of horror manga; not only because it’s easy to recognize how it draws inspiration from Ito’s characters and themes, but also because World of Horror, in spite of it being a video game, actually looks and feels like reading a manga.
1-bit Graphics For a Better, More Disturbing Experience
One of the features of World of Horror is that the game describes itself as a 1-bit love letter to Junji Ito and H.P. Lovecraft. While other games go for hyperrealistic graphics and gory scenes, here you’ll find a lot of grotesque characters, disturbing scenarios, and some occasional jump scares.
Immortal gods and the inevitable are Lovecraft’s best-known leitmotifs; however, in this game that’s nothing but a gimmick. There’s a Doom meter that goes up every time your character finds something disturbing, and once it reaches 100% a powerful god is summoned to destroy the world. For the most part, all other elements in the game are based on short mysteries we need to solve, all of them emphasized by a creepy chiptune soundtrack, black and white graphics (although you can change the color palette) that look straight out of MS Paint, and our own imagination.
Illustrations are great and, since we went for a slightly yellowish filter, every panel definitely looked like reading an old manga printed on cheap paper. About the mystery cases themselves, some of them that are just gross, like the man trapped in the vent, while some others resemble classic stories of Japanese folklore, like the school woman with scissors—who, in fact, looks a lot like one of Ito’s famous characters.
It’s funny that the most Junji Ito game in the market is created by a fan, and not Junji Ito himself. From Call of Cthulhu to The Sinking City, there are several Lofcraftian video games, but Junji Ito is still alive and the one game he actually helped creating, the infamous Silent Hills demo known as P.T., has been canceled by Konami following Hideo Kojima’s controversy.
Back in the day, Ito said he knows nothing about video games, and that he doesn’t play them because he’s afraid of becoming addicted and no longer meeting his deadlines. Although World of Horror is nothing but an indie project still in Early Access, we only hope all the praise the game is getting actually reaches the King of Horror Manga, making him realize all the people that would run to buy a Junji Ito video game if it’s half as good as his published works. Please, Ito-sensei, make our dreams come true!
World of Horror is a rather short game, with every playthrough taking you around an hour to solve all 5 mysteries, but you have to play it several times if you really want to discover all cases and possible random events, getting the best out of it. For us, having manga-like graphics is a huge plus when trying to convey the essence of Junji Ito’s work, but it also shows us that there’s a lot of room for exploration in this area. Impressive graphics and 3D models are always fine and dandy, but if other platforms can do wonders just by using black and white drawings and putting your imagination to work, why couldn’t a video game achieve the same results?
World of Horror, created by Polish developer Pawel Kozminski (aka Panstasz) is now available on Steam.