Haunted PS1 Summer Of Screams Jam Recap
Summer has come to a close, and with it, the submission period for the Haunted PS1 Summer of Screams Jam. Close to two months of sowing, and now we the audience get to reap; 66 horror games submitted, all unique and fascinating in their own right. Had we the time we’d dissect and probably praise just about all of them. But for now, we’ve got five to start you out with.
Polydeuces by Ian Williams:
You ever see videos of people using unmanned submersibles to do deep-sea repairs? The excruciatingly methodical drones slowly doing their tasks? This game is kind of like that. Polydeuces, which a cursory Google search tells me is a moon of Neptune, is a claustrophobic horror game where you control some kind of floating machine.
Polydeuces is set in a zero-gravity environment. You pilot a drone with omnidirectional movement similar to Descent. But rather than intense space dogfights, you’re mostly here on maintenance, turning valves and inserting sockets in some kind of strange tunnel. The atmosphere of Polydeuces is what got to me the most. The ambient din resonating through the tunnels and the ever-present breathing noise put me on edge throughout. And since the theme of this jam was architecture, well, soon you start seeing what kind of tunnel you are in.
Try Polydeuces by clicking here.
Invasive by Stumphead Games:
The cool thing about video games, as opposed to some other forms of art, is that it’s not actually real. You don’t need to adhere to physical reality since it’s all made up and pretend. Stuff like Antichamber are so powerfully disorienting because our brains are the first in all of history to experience impossible space. Invasive utilizes this really well, maybe not as much as I would have liked, but to the extent that it does is incredibly powerful.
Invasive has you exploring some kind of abandoned office or research lab belonging to a mysterious corporation called GEOBEM or something, it’s very difficult to read. I haven’t had the pleasure of playing it yet, but I imagine this is what Control feels like. Everything is a little off, where solid objects are gently throbbing and other things deteriorating. Notes of terrible side effects in the name of fun new products can be found about, and as you descend further, things become even more mind-bending.
Try Invasive by clicking here.
Night Feed by Davide Puato:
This is about as classic as horror can get. Night Feed is a neat homage to the early days of horror film, where all you needed to terrify the audience was some interesting shadowplay and one slightly unusual special effect. Even the seasoned horror fans, now used to the most bloodcurdling imagery of the modern day, can still appreciate the oldest of horror styles. Night Feed, a quick vampire story, capitalizes on just that.
Obviously Night Feed inspired by some Nosferatu and Dracula, but specifically, according to the description, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Maybe not so much in content, but certainly aesthetics. The twisted trees and non-angular buildings of Night Feed are straight out of the Caligari sets, like this one. It’s a great throwback and still has you on edge with the ambient audio and silent film style dialogue screens.
Try Night Feed by clicking here.
The Last Utopi by Ghoulishkid:
This one has a familiar premise. Earth has fallen to a mushroom apocalypse, and humanity moved to some kind of space station called The Colony. In The Last Utopi you play as Hanna, an archaeologist/historian asked by the leader of The Colony to explore the ruins of the old world. But unlike most post apocalyptic games, this time you’re exploring some very specific ruins. The epicenter of the spores was a Utopi, a simulacrum of the Swedish furniture store IKEA.
This is a game I would almost classify as Vaporwave horror. Walking the dark abandoned corridors of this furniture store in a hazmat suit with elevator music playing is such a unique feeling that I was really upset when I couldn’t finish due to a puzzle (inquiring with the dev, could be a bug). The Last Utopi hasn’t been getting nearly enough recognition this jam, and I hope that it doesn’t dissuade the devs because this would be an even more incredible game if they expand on it.
Try The Last Utopi by clicking here.
The Tracks by Epiloguesoft:
The Tracks is a game where you are on one of those stupid handcar vehicles. You know, the ones where you have to crank the lever to travel on a track. Not only is it the slowest machine in existence, it’s also the least energy efficient. You could go faster and use less effort walking. But I digress; The Tracks is set on this infernal machine and the only way to go is forward. And going forward through quite a landscape indeed.
There’s something extra foreboding about a horror game where you can only travel in a straight line. An extra layer of helplessness when you don’t have the luxury of going left or right or even backwards. The Tracks definitely caught me with that feeling of vulnerability. Completely at the mercy of whatever the game decides to throw at me. This is more a ride than a game, since you can’t do anything but go forward. But the area you’re going through is so unsettling, you quickly forget. The fog is so dense you often only see the white silhouettes of stuff in the distance, and the audio like what I imagine the inside of Beksinski painting sounds like. This one is neat, and don’t be afraid to just put a book or something on the W key.
Try The Tracks by clicking here.
This is just a tiny sample of games we thought were great in the Summer of Screams, and we’ve got a part 2 coming tomorrow. You can find the whole library and try them for yourself by clicking here.