World of Horror, Your Safety is Negotiable
World of Horror returns from hiatus! After a difficult year we are too familiar with, developer Pantasz announced a return to the production schedule on November 12 with content updates and hot-patches following it. The music is haunting, the monochrome pixel art burns like charcoal on paper, the stories chill your bones brittle. It’s the horror experience I won’t be here for.
No really, it’s a testament to how petrifying World of Horror truly is. I can no longer sit through a session without falling into a paranoid mania. I even joined the modded playthrough by Vinesauce which is full of gags in place of terror but I had already become conditioned to the animalistic stupor terror entails. Now working for a horror game publisher this is an inconvenient scenario, so let’s talk about what makes World of Horror just so darn effective.
I’ve seen reviewers have initial friction with World of Horror as a visual novel. But to its success, it attracted a large audience of general gamers and became an indie hit. So what’s the spooky gameplay all about? Well, it is at its core a visual novel that has players hunting for items and jumping across locations which is par for the course, the combat is sprinkled between during story and random encounters. Encounters do provide experience to improve the player stats but they also can grind away at the player’s health with curses and injuries sinking into the mind and soul of their character. By the time they conclude the adventure they maybe have a few missing or extra organs. As for the story, each mystery the player sets to solve has unique challenges of which the player will need skills or items, the story ends regardless of the player solving it, the question is how deep they are willing to go and if they survive.
Perhaps the most powerful tool the game employs is isolation. It is made quite clear that the player is unique in their inquisitiveness and comprehension. Whenever the nightmares seep into the human world their descriptions always take time to say no one else responds to the fright, amongst tired adults just trying to get through the day and you are the madman screaming outlandish claims that no one else sees. The other residents attuned to the supernatural are no more helpful. The disturbed give in to the evil gods and parasites crawling in their shadows and walk amongst us waiting for a chance to feed. The more-human respond to the calamity reasonably, they cower and run which might be the only chance a human has to survive.
The viewport for the game has the option to play bordered within the graphic of a lone computer in a vacated office room in almost complete darkness. The primordial fear the game wants the player to feel is perhaps too much for some, it was too much for me. Scares can be subjective, I’m sure plenty don’t find World of Horror scary at all. For people shaking in their skeletons, I’ll bet some of them felt the loss of autonomy I did, perhaps my comprehension of space, isolation, and reality, got a bit too metaphorical than I was able to handle.
Where World of Horror strikes fear is by wedging nightmares in between the cracks of normal life. At school, in a hospital, a hotel, walking on a quiet road. If there is any room for doubt or suspicion, even a few seconds alone in your house in front of a computer, World of Horror is trying to dig in there and pry it open.