Ultra-Indie Spotlight Sunday: Less Is More In Escape Room Horror Game Pyrolyzis
There’s no feeling of bliss quite like getting home after a long day of work. That’s how the protagonist of Pyrolyzis by developers JN Squared begins this game. Preparing for bed, you hear a pounding at your door. Opening the door to your room you see… your room? Behind you is your room, and in front of you is the very same room. Only, this room is a little bit different. It seems sleep will have to wait until you can escape the room.
Indie devs are generally hobbyists. Occupied by jobs or other outside obligations, they might not have a great deal of time or energy to dedicate to projects. This can manifest in a lot of ways in-game. The one you probably notice most is reused assets. It’s a tremendous time-suck to be detailing objects. How can a developer use this to their advantage?
Pyrolyzis is an expert display of utilizing reused assets. In fact, the entire game is reusing the same room, over and over, with a slight change every time. This not only creates a sense of disorientation but lets the developer direct the player’s attention with ease. With just a fraction of the assets needed, the experience of Pyrolyzis still feels complete.
Non-Wanky Game Recap:
Pyrolyzis is the third game in JN Squared’s Nightmare Series. Each is a short form horror experience, first-person vignettes that can be independently enjoyed. The gameplay of Pyrolyzis is fairly simple. You enter your room and putz around for a minute looking for what changed or what object needs picking up. When you’ve activated whatever needs activating to continue the story, the door unlocks, and you can enter the next room. The same room. You know what I mean.
The gameplay of Pyrolyzis is interesting because you already have an idea of what to expect when you walk into the next room. You’ve just been in there. So when there’s a subtle difference like the room is mirrored or missing something—or not so subtle like a corpse pinned to the ceiling—the effect hits harder.
On top of that, having Pyrolyzis take place in a single room gives the developer significant control over what the player will be doing. There’s no fear that they’ll run off and get lost, since they’re locked in one 200 sq/ft apartment until they find the next key item. But unlike other single-room games, this one doesn’t have nearly the same feeling of being stuck in one place, because every minute you leave it for another room. For the same room. You know what I mean.
Well for one, there’s no bathroom in this apartment, which is weird. I wouldn’t want to live there, even before the shattering of reality. But beyond that, there are really no significant issues with Pyrolyzis. There were a few instances near the end where I got a little confused with what I was supposed to do, but that could very well be on me.
How To Fix It:
One thing that could use improvement is the endings. There is currently a good ending and a bad ending. Though truthfully, I don’t know what makes one good and the other bad. Other than in the bad ending you end up in a room full of trash and in the good one you don’t, there doesn’t seem to be much to indicate what happened. I do appreciate the ambiguity of Pyrolyzis, but it would be nice to have a little more clarity.
Perhaps someday we’ll live in a post-scarcity fully automated world, where any and all fans of indie horror will be able pursue development in their leisure. Until then, devs will need to rely on tricks and shortcuts in order to build within the confines of an oppressive society. Pyrolyzis is a great example of how you can use these to your advantage. Not only is it interesting and terrifying, it creates more out of less.
You can download Pyrolyzis on itch.io by clicking here