Japan is known for its many spooky legends, from the story of the ghostly spirit Hanako-san. The spirit that haunts school bathrooms after being bullied. To the deadly tale of Kuchisake-onna, the slit-mouth woman. Whose tall figure and legend have terrified people for centuries as she stalks the streets to find victims of those who don’t find her beautiful. However, these are merely legends, but what if they were brought to life with the madness-inducing powers of the Old Gods? Well in our World of Horror review, we break that down for you. If this trip into the darkness is an insane trip worth taking, or if it is better left to its Doom.
Warning: there will be some spoilers to the story. However, there are multiple Mysteries or smaller stories that tie to the overall story. Each mystery with multiple endings so do be aware going forward.
The story of World of Horror takes place in the 80’s in the small seaside village of Shiokawa, Japan. Weird-robed figures are stalking the streets as rumors of cults run rampant. Weird happenings and death are ramping to heights not seen before. More than anything, you learn of the rebirth and coming of the Old Gods, ancient Eldritch beings from beyond the stars.
These are causing an unnatural spike in weird things happening in the town. We return to our home to investigate the happenings. Following clues and rumors of mysterious happenings, hoping to find a way into the lighthouse to stop the terrors once and for all.
The sheer premise of World of Horror’s set is beyond creepy and unsettling. It uses a period where technology is minimal and rumors spread through news and word of mouth. Using the perfect setting of a seaside town in Japan. Somehow the mix of Lovecraftian mythos with japanese extensive folklore of Yokai and Demons allows for a truly terrifying mix of worlds. More often than not the sheer horror and fear left me disturbed in the best way.
As someone who has lived in Japan and loves their folklore, the sheer love for the stories shines here. The story alone of the slit-mouth woman is such a unique story known the world over. With World of Horrors unique interpretation of her as well makes me beyond elated.
Fans of eldritch horror and Japanese folklore will have a field day with the story of this game through their playthroughs.
The Visuals of World of Horror are both breathtaking and disturbing. However, for a game like this, that’s the best compliment it can receive. Offering a very unique 1-bit or 2-bit art style, it presents itself in black or white. Those who want more freedom can mix up its many color variations.
The game prides itself on its simple, yet effective minimalist aesthetic. Made entirely in Microsoft Paint, it uses a mix of Chibi and Anime-esque designs. This allows the game to be absolutely creepy. From the way, it presents its environment, to the disgusting or horrifying visage of the enemies. All range from ghostly entities, to disfigured humans, or in some cases, mutated warped human-plant hybrids or animals!
However, just because a game isn’t hyper-realistic doesn’t mean it can’t be unsettling. World of Horror is the perfect example of this. Being a love letter to Junji-Ito, the look of this game is the perfect representation of the horror icon’s style of creepy.
When it comes to audio, it has a way of setting a mood and a tone. As such World of Horror is no exception. Let me tell you what, its chiptune-style music, is the most unsettling thing about this game. While in your apartment, it has a rather hopeful chipper tune with a solemn bass beat.
However, once you hop into a mystery the sounds turn into eerie sounds you’d find on a cursed game cartridge from a creepypasta story. I think that’s what the creator was going for as well, and if he was, he nailed it on the head. From the noises of enemies smashing windows or shutting doors. To the sudden shudder or long deep bass notes with the occasional high, it turns into an orchestra of dread. Thanks to this the game truly shines without ever needing a word spoken.
Now the intricate part of World of Horror is its gameplay. Which is where I loved and had a bit of struggle. Mainly this is due to the complexity of the systems at work in World of Horror. It uses parts that are common in most RPGs, which I have plenty of experience with. However, it also mixes a lot of these as well with elements most common in the Arkham Asylum/Call of Cthulu TTRPGs. This is due to the focus on Stamina and Reason. With one representing physical health, and the other mental stability.
This creates a tight balance of needing to maintain both from falling to low or risk death. As well as, due to the large amount of random events. You never know what may be affected. With a large amount of negatives and skill checks using 5 of the most common stat traits, Strength, Dexterity, Perception, Charisma, Knowledge, and a hidden luck stat. The game has a lot of random numbers that can help or hinder you, no matter how well-prepared you may seem.
UI and Exploration:
The UI of the game also has a very nice clean, but also deep layout. With a section for Items, Stats, injuries, Allies, and info on your current run. It helps keep things organized. You also have a meter notifying you of a stat called Doom. This is a hidden aspect that rises slowly over time. It’s a race against the end of the world. You have to uncover all 5 mysteries and investigate the lighthouse before the old god stirs. Because, if your doom percent hits 100% it is an instant game over.
Along with that is the exploration, each area you will investigate encounters a random event or fight. Each investigation increases your doom by 1%. As well as each area has a danger meter that isn’t exactly mentioned. While the tutorial does a great basic overview, the smaller nuances of how things work or stats are left to discover. It’s this confusion that led to a bit of frustration as i work it out. However, once I learned how it all worked it all clicked well.
The game’s simple point-and-click is mixed with many deep mechanics which can feel overwhelming. But overall once you grasp everything it makes so much sense and adds to the replayability. Speaking of replayability the game offers a lot of it. From unlocking achievements that add new items, spells, allies, and potential dangers, it all adds to the evolving nature of the game. These allow for ever-expanding and evolving gameplay so each playthrough and character feels unique.
Overall, my entire time with World of Horror was simply amazing. As a love letter to Junji-ito and H.P. Lovecraft, this feels like the perfect blend of these worlds! For any fan of horror or any of these genres, this is perfect for you. While it may be daunting at first, its well worth the time investment.
I want to thank the team at Ysbryd Games and Stride PR for providing us with a key for our World of Horror review. If you want to check out World of Horror for yourself the game is currently out now. You can get it on PS4, PS5, Nintendo Switch, and PC through Steam. Make sure to check out our past reviews as well!
Let us know your thoughts on our World of Horror review below. Do you plan to play the game or are you going to wait on it?