World Of Horror

Fear the old gods


When everything goes wrong, making it through by the skin of your teeth is exhilarati­ng.

Shiokawa, where our hero lives, isn’t the only thing that’s cursed – this game is too. This 1-bit mono-colour love letter to UI maximalist PC games of old is constantly ‘bugging out’ with graphical distortion­s and strange faces in black loading screens. The cosmic horror soaks the city’s streets just as it does the interface you play in.

It’s explicitly inspired by works by the likes of Junji Ito and HP Lovecraft; you’re a young adult drawn into investigat­ing the disturbing things that have been happening around town. Each run has you solving five mysteries (or four if you’re playing on an easy mode) out of a current total of 21 possibilit­ies to gain access to the lighthouse that’s part of a ritual to summon an elder god.

As you’d expect when contending with unknowable horrors, that’s easier said than done. World Of Horror’s a run-based roguelike for a reason, as even the easier difficulti­es can cause you trouble. Though that’s all part of the fun. When just about every thing that can possibly go wrong inevitably happens, making it through by the skin of your teeth – which can become unnaturall­y sharp if you use one of several spells – is exhilarati­ng. You’ve got to juggle two health bars, your Stamina and Reason (which using things like the aforementi­oned spell can sap), and these will both be reduced if you fail skill checks in one of nearly 200 events that can occur as you investigat­e areas, as well as through combat. On top of that, a run-ending Doom meter fills with every action.

And did we mention your limited funds for kitting yourself out or patching up injuries at the hospital, or the town-wide negative effects that occur as the old god draws closer? Oh, and how each god has its own special rule to make your investigat­ion more challengin­g? One trapped in a mirror, for example, means that Doom shoots up whenever you rest to restore your health.


Being a bit much is the point, though, which also plays into combat. It’s turn-based, and the huge array of options can feel overwhelmi­ng at first, though it boils down using your Stamina to balance either blocking or dodging while boosting the hit rate of your own strikes.

Being simpler than it looks is maybe WOH’s biggest flaw. As is the case with a lot of roguelikes, you’ll find optimal ways to play that can be hard to unstick yourself from – though doing so is encouraged through different starting characters and backstorie­s. Additional events can be unlocked to add some variety, as can run customisat­ion options. But the cosmic-horror-like unpredicta­bility is where it shines. While there are always fresh secrets to stumble upon, it’s a shame the unknowable can eventually be anticipate­d.

Fantastic monochrome style and chilling writing makes this a great horror to spend time with, though it struggles to maintain the mood across lots of runs. Oscar Taylor-Kent


 ?? ?? WOH’s glorious aesthetic is dense with text and icons.
WOH’s glorious aesthetic is dense with text and icons.
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