Ultra-Indie Spotlight Sunday: The Night Of The Scissors
The Night of the Scissors takes place in an abandoned post office. You play as Adam, a young man who is doing a little urban exploration for the purposes of “scrapping,” which could mean scavenging or as I prefer to think of it, the most intense form of scrapbooking. In any case, you soon find yourself locked in a building with an uncomfortable amount of cardboard cutouts of people, severed limbs, and serial killers (just one killer, but that’s an uncomfortable amount for me). With no way to fight off the so-called Snipper, all you can do is run and hide and hope to figure out a way to escape.
I couldn’t tell you what exactly is so great about a VHS visual effect filter that makes a game so much more unsettling. Maybe it’s the sporadic and uneven nature of the filter, which is so unpredictable that it becomes almost visual white noise while focusing on the game’s content. Or maybe the VHS effect meshes with the PSX style to create an especially nostalgic experience. In any case, much like the releases by Puppet Combo and 616 Games, The Night of the Scissors scratches an itch I didn’t realize was itchy.
The retro style of this game is expertly crafted and stands tall among such Sunday Spotlight favorites as Dinohazard and Paratopic and probably any number of PSX-style games I love that I can’t think of right now. It features a tasteful amount of fifth-gen gameplay jank, classically blocky visual design, and some delightful awkward dialogue (“man, I can’t wait to make some money and hit the bong once again”). The Night of the Scissors is a perfect replication of classic survival horror.
Non-Wanky Game Recap:
Night of the Scissors is largely about exploration and avoiding the killer. You spend much of the game roaming about the post office looking at all the fun run-down things and hoping that behind that next door is a room without a deranged scissor stabber killer. Should you encounter the killer, you can run away and hide in various lockers. Along the way you will be looking for useful key objects in order to open up new areas in your desperate escape attempt.
Everything about The Night of the Scissors feels great. The visual design is incredible, especially as you realize that you are in a building more reminiscent of the Raiders of the Lost Ark warehouse than a post office. I loved the simple and terrifying and diegetic nature of putting some gore-covered cardboard cutouts in a game about a scissors serial killer. The audio is fantastic and the atmosphere heavy. And above all, it’s just got some truly unsettling scissors-themed sequences.
The balance of the killer in The Night of the Scissors could use some work. As it stands, there is no effective way to escape the killer if you suddenly find yourself within arm’s reach—which does not bode well for a game that has the killer pop out from behind doors. If the killer gets his hands on you and scissors in you, that’s that. Respawn and try again. It is admittedly very very frightening, but also can certainly be frustrating.
How To Fix It:
I think that the Snipper is a great and terrifying foe to be trapped near, especially with how lethal and effective they can be. If I were to make one change to The Night of the Scissors, I would give the player a way to escape from the killer’s, um, kill. As it stands, the Snipper stabs you in the trunk about four or five times. I think it would help with the balance if there were a quick time event or something to allow the player to get free of the killer’s two blades in order to hide and heal.
The fun thing about The Night of the Scissors is how timeless of a style this is. I don’t know what makes PSX games age like a fine wine. Probably that since they were unable to render much, Playstation devs were more focused on style rather than realistic graphics, which anyone playing a PS3 game can tell you does not age all too well. The Night of the Scissors is a fantastic throwback to the classic era of survival horror, and I will always appreciate a dev that captures this essence.
You can buy The Night of the Scissors on itch.io by clicking here.