Texas Chainsaw Hide and Seek
Side-scrolling horror is something we don’t get too much these days. Yeah, sure, you get the odd standouts like Vigil the Longest Night, Carrion, or Deadlight. Still, never something that focuses on using the side-scrolling as its main element to focus us in on poorly lit hallways and playing with is just out of sight. But something comes along every once in a while and shows us something unique. That is what Pestle Volume 1 sets out to do.
After a setup much akin to the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, We see our Heroine Mary on a road trip to visit her significant other’s parent’s house with her significant other Larry. Their brother Roth had to take roads in the middle of nowhere in 1987 with no gas and Roth needing to take a poop after eating some bad beans (By far the most relatable part of any road trip story), passing by a house in the middle of a bunch of cornfields. Mary decided to stay in the van while the others use the washroom and get some gas. Cut to 20 minutes later, and no one has returned, so do what anyone in a 1980s horror movie would do. We investigate.
What happens next is a homage to old-school horror films. While the beginning felt very Texas Chainsaw Massacre inspired, the gameplay part of Pestle Volume One felt very Saw 2, and The Invitation inspired. When you awake in the farmhouse, it starts calm and well-lit until you find a specific item. Then the power goes out, and things get spooky. Pestle does an outstanding job obfuscating what is around you using a shroud of darkness, except when in the room with one of the killers. After that, flashes of madness begin to show up on the screen, and they chase you around the house. If you are familiar with games like Outlast or Haunting Ground, the gameplay loop is a very straightforward find the object to solve the puzzle while using the environment to hide from the killer.
Of the puzzles, they are in line with Resident Evil and finding keys to doors or items to open the way. Along with this, you’ll find notes spread throughout the house detailing other victims along with general and passcodes you will have to remember since there is no collection of letters gathered Where Pestle succeeds in this is that it tells your right upfront. It does not show intractable prompts, so search the environment, which had me stumped a few times before having that aha moment. While the art style was a little offputting at first, it grew on me after a few minutes.
Another area Pestle that does a great job is its audio design. Being able to hear killers searching the other rooms for you is a terrifying experience when you only have a little circle of light surrounding you. Also, you are not sure if they will find you because if they see you hide while you are in the same room, they will pull you out of that hiding spot and attack.
When it comes down to it, Pestle Volume One shows that with passion and know-how making a side-scrolling hide-and-seek horror game in the likes of Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Invitation escape the house is a fantastic idea.
I hope NicDev expands on this idea with Volume 2, which doesn’t have a release date yet. Because the end of Volume One is abrupt, a fadeaway shows an exciting cliffhanger adjacent ending that I hope is continued for part two. That being said, NicDev has an extensive Q&A on his website, which he updates regularly, answering questions in English and Indonesian.
Be sure to download Pestle Volume One over at itch.io and show NicDev some love! And check out DreadXP for more horror game content.
What new games on Itch.io have you come across lately? I’m always looking for new titles and experience to play through.