World of Horror channels Junji Ito, Lovecraft, and early Macintosh computers and it works

World of Horror combines the art style of Junji Ito with the 1-bit graphical aesthetic of early Macintosh games. Needless to say, this rogue-lite/adventure title is pretty niche. That’s not a bad thing, though. In forgoing the need to satisfy the taste of everyone, World of Horror has become a showcase dedicated to the art style of yesteryear and a study in horror minimalism. It’s made all the more impressive by the fact it was developed by a one-person team consisting only of Pavel Kozminski.

The main draw of World of Horror, at least at first glance, is the graphics. If you ever played adventure games on the Mac II or Macintosh Classic, you’re probably familiar with the style. World of Horror immediately reminded me of Deju Vu, with its detailed, handcrafted sprites and backgrounds (drawn in MS Paint by the developer), all in monochrome (though you can play World of Horror in 2-bit color if you so choose).

World of Horror Preview 01

The pseudo-primitive aesthetic of the graphics does something to heighten the tension in the game. The bluntness of the black and white leaves no room for the comfort of pastels or bright primary colors. You’re thrust into a world where the dangers are genuine and entirely ruthless.

World of Horror takes place in 1984 Japan, and puts you in the shoes of one of five protagonists. Each character has their own backstory, along with strengths, weaknesses, and different starting inventories. The game channels Lovecraft and your city is being affected by the attempt of an Old God to manifest. To thwart the god’s plans, you must solve a series of five mysteries (drawn from a pool of 12 in Early Access with more coming later), and gain the keys needed to access the Lighthouse.

World of Horror Preview 03

Each mystery centers around one incident, and you must investigate around town to narrow down the location or culprit affected. This may have you chasing reports of a pervert lurking around your apartments, or sightings of a ghost with scissors at your local high school. In addition to the threats associated with the mystery you’re trying to solve, cultists and abominations are roaming your town and will try to stop you. Twisted necked zombies, stalkers dressed like clowns, and even creepier enemies can appear at any turn.

Each playthrough is randomized, so even though a mystery might pop up again, you won’t go about solving it the same way twice. Furthermore, most of these cases have multiple endings you can earn by choosing a different path when a choice is presented. You’ll also find that events during one mystery can affect another, which makes multiple playthroughs essential if you want to see every permutation of a mystery.

Fortunately, you’re far from defenseless in World of Horror. While the cases you take on are solved through an adventure game-style interface, combat is strictly a turn-based RPG affair. Your character has two main pools to draw from: stamina and reason. Stamina refers to your health and reason represents your mental state. If either of these reaches 0, you’ll perish. Fortunately, you don’t get an instant game over when they’re depleted. You can continue fighting, and if you’re able to push them back above 0 with magic or items, you will survive.

World of Horror Preview 02

As a rogue-lite, World of Horror is tough. One playthrough should take around 1-4 hours, but one wrong move can result in a restart. Fortunately, the game is designed in a way where this isn’t that frustrating. Since bosses and enemies fight similarly each time, even if they appear in different places, you can learn their weaknesses and try again.

Even though World of Horror is in early access, there’s still a lot of material here to play. As stated above, there are 12 mysteries available now, with a total of 20 projected when the game fully launches in Q4 2020. The game also has mod support, which theoretically allows for an unlimited amount of user-created mysteries. Each mystery consists of a “Deck” made up of cards that represent items, enemies, and events. This makes it easy for both players to make their own cases and for the developer to provide post-launch content.

If you’re a horror fan and you’re looking for a unique, well-crafted game to play, World of Horror is an excellent choice. Even in early access, you get a full start-to-finish experience with a ton of polish. It’s an exciting project with absolutely amazing art, and I can’t wait to see the rest of the mysteries when the game gets a full release later this year.

You can get World of Horror on Steam in Early Access here.