I have played a few hours of World of Horror now that the game has been updated to version 1.0. It’s an experience like few other titles. It’s also a must-play for fans of Junji Ito’s works and old-school PC adventure titles.
What is World of Horror?
World of Horror is a point-and-click adventure roguelike RPG hybrid with a beautiful 1-bit aesthetic. In an alternate history version of Japan, your player character will take on a series of mysteries to gather keys that will allow you to destroy a god sitting atop a lighthouse who is trying to bring the apocalypse to your world.
Practically, that means that in each run of the game, you will be given a character with specific attributes (like strength, dexterity, knowledge and charisma) as well as other perks and potential prep items. You’ll need to get the previously mentioned lighthouse keys by solving five mysteries in each run while beating the clock. The clock is your “Doom Counter”. As you click through areas in each mystery, you’ll be faced with situations that test your might and your will. Some of these might bring on the apocalypse even faster, injure your character or even provide them with power they could have never envisioned.
World of Horror’s Structure
Each run gives you five mini-campaigns to take on. Of the twenty mysteries that the game has to offer, each one takes about 10 to 15 minutes to complete. Each scenario contains events to contend with, enemies to defeat and potential bosses to take down. Each of these events may have multiple ways to undertake them. And by having the right mix of perks or attributes or even the right item at the right moment, you’ll be able to take them head-on. Each mystery has somewhere between 2 and 5 endings, so there’s a surprising amount of replayability in this one. Sometimes you don’t even have to solve the mystery fully… just make it out alive.
World of Horror’s Surprising Depth (and Complexity)
With that depth, however, comes some complexity to the gameplay, especially in the combat. This is the number one thing that might discourage folks from jumping in. While exploring the sub-world where each mystery takes place, you will explore a series of locations that are very small squares on a 4 x 4 grid. At the same time, you’ll be given opportunities to buy weapons and get companions, for instance in other areas of those locations. And that’s just exploration. You’ll also have items to manage in both your inventory and storage, have spells, ailments and perks to look at while also managing levelling and companions – it’s just a lot. And even the combat has four menus with many different offensive and defensive attacks. I will not lie, my first playthrough was mostly to peel back all the layers of the gameplay onion.
While playing, mysteries rarely go as planned. If you’re not careful and start running too quickly through a mystery, your character may be defeated by running out of health or reason. Even if you’re careful, the game’s randomized elements can deal you a hand that’s hard to come back from. I died in many runs of the game but did manage to win once. Once you do win, you can replay the game with a new player character (with unique perks and attributes), a new god to take down and even new events to add to the base game.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the game’s immaculate vibes. The game’s 1-bit aesthetic, designed in Microsoft Paint by a single person, paired with the eerie chiptune music makes it a perfect experience for October each year. The menus ooze character and the monster design is truly terrifying. And it was a nice touch to be able to swap the palette that the game runs with before every single playthrough. One caution for squeamish players, there are some very graphic scenes in this one. If body horror is not your thing, it’s best to stay away from this one.
One final note about the ideal platform to play this on. Having played a little bit of this game on the Nintendo Switch version, I have to say that the Steam version with a mouse is the essential way to play it. Even with button shortcuts, a controller is not your friend in World of Horror.
World of Horror: Triumph Through Adversity
Having played a few hours of the 1.0 on PC and a preview build on Nintendo Switch, I can confidently say that I haven’t played anything like World of Horror. If you’re okay with a steep learning curve and a little bit of body horror, you should turn off the lights, grab some candles and headphones and jump into the Japanese Lovecraftian universe of World of Horror for some Halloween-inspired frights.
The game’s publisher provided a code for the game for this review.
Looking for more spooky games to play? Check out my review of Varney Lake!
Jacob is a creator marketing professional, and a fan of video games. He produces the Left Behind Game Club and Cutscenes podcasts as well as Video Game Trivia on YouTube.