Hello all! It’s been a minute, and I’m so glad to be back. Horror games are my jam (heh) and October has been a blast already, so let’s get into it. Throughout October, my colleagues had already published three other articles and November will have some more.
Here are the 3 games that caught my eye during itch.io’s 2023’s Spooktober.
Haus Maria – Beau Van Dalen
What a gorgeous game~. I admit that the visuals to Haus Maria are what drove me to pick this game first. However, before we begin, I will share the game’s own content warning:
I cannot put into words how important these early content warnings are for content involving sexual scenes (explicit or not), and traumatic experiences pertaining to gender dysphoria, abuse, and death. You will play as an afab (assigned female at birth) transgender character kicked out of his house by uncaring parents, with the option to name your newly closet hatched protagonist. I assumed that he would have picked a masculine name for himself, and thus felt guilty picking a feminine name like mine, but I’m bad with names.
Early on, there are a few branching path options that give you a bit more background on the setting and the player character, as well as a mysterious, angelic looking man with a tantalizing laugh who tells you it’s much too early for you two to meet. If these side paths do not end in a game over (some do, such as attempting to stay in your parents shed and being caught and supposedly killed, so “talking to Mor” implies), they will lead you inexplicably to the Haus Maria, where you will meet up with Gisette.
Gisette, the white, long haired character welcoming you at the title screen becomes much *less* so when she is introduced in-game: she is accompanied by eerie, off-tuned music, and she appears to know your name without having met you before, reacting very poorly when you ask her if she has lived in the house for long. While our player character’s internal dialogue is very discomforted by her, we still have the opportunity to invite Gisette into our specified room and kiss her (while the option comes out of the blue, the game gives you plenty of chances to disengage from this “choice”), or tell her that you’ll be leaving early.
If you choose the former, it is implied that the protagonist and Gisette have sex, though there are no sexual explicit scenes, visual or narrative. I want to point out the option that is presented just before their implied sex wherein the player character struggles with whether or not they are comfortable in their own body to engage with Gisette, especially in a more dominant manner. I appreciate the care to detail in internal dialogue when writing a trans character struggling with body dysmorphia.
If you definitely do not feel comfortable with Gisette, which I certainly didn’t my first playthrough, you can attempt to leave the Haus Maria, but Gisette won’t take it very well…
Such a visually stunning game, and the voice acting was spot on for what little there was. The UI handled well and the breadth of options to choose from, especially those pertaining to the trans struggles of the main character, were very much appreciated. I’d be interested to see if H scenes will be made for this game (and if my read on the Mysterious Angel Man being more androgynous than anticipated turns out to be correct….~)
Download Haus Maria here.
By Delta Cat Studio, a small team of creators including GatDeSucre, i3Q2, and Cintanna
Did you do your assigned reading? Do you want… to be beautiful?
“Mycopsychosys takes place in an unnamed small town during a ‘spore storm’, an unnatural event that brings deadly fungal spores through the air. Even one can turn a person into a zombie-like host.” Mycopsychosys is a game heavily inspired by The Mandela Catalogue and other horror ARG (alternate reality games) that have seen a surge in popularity on YouTube and fan Wikipedia pages across the net. Other ARGs with similar themes include SCP – Containment Breach, The Backrooms Game, and The Walten Files. ARGs require players to search for information that is portrayed as belonging to the same narrative universe to understand the narrative in full and files added in the game folder, amongst other things. Mycopsychosys requires the player to view a video that either plays in game or is available through a website or files added in the game folder.
What Mycopsychosys lacks in writing prowess, it makes up for in atmosphere. The ticking of the clock always playing in the background is a haunting reminder of the short amount of time that you and your neighbors may have left before succumbing to the fungal infection. Although the game has no voice acting, the sound effects (such as a phone or doorbell ringing, knocking on a door, or a body being cracked apart from the inside) are well done and effective, reminiscent of the old school flash titles that used to steal my sleep from me.
Throughout the game, you encounter three different individuals under varying degrees of suspicious circumstances. Your new neighbor Onna, who is new to the area and woefully unprepared for the storm, a homeless man named Hugo who escapes into your basement before the storm starts and asks for shelter, and a supposed federal health agent who ‘just wants to help’. These interactions with the agent were the most enjoyable for me, because he very clearly had no clue how to function.
A short, but wonderfully atmospheric addition to the ARG genre. While I would be interested to see this game expanded (what happens to Onna after you tell her to get in the closet, who or what was the federal agent, maybe a spicy scene with Hugo- oops!) as the game is fairly succinct right now.
Remember to do your homework, kids…
Download Mycopsychosis here.
By rosesrot and many, many others – view the entire credits list here. Special shout out to the voice actresses, Lauren Kong (Ezekiel – MC), Meg TheLovableDork (Macy), Brooke Johnson (Salxire), and Elene Pak (Oriel).
A bunch of fallen, lesbian archangels and a prophet who lies as easily as she breathes… This game had me so in tune with my sapphic side that I felt dirty reading this in the living room, even though there are no H scenes to be had.
I will admit that I still have not finished the game, as it requires the reader to have a basic understanding of the prophet Ezekiel and the four archangels of God: Gabriel, Michael, Raphael, and Uriel. As I am not religious, I was quite lost during my first two (or three) playthroughs and this made me waste a decent amount of time. I will most likely do it’s own separate review once I complete the game, since I think it’s really well done game.
The artwork for this game is divine, and while I think the softness of the backgrounds collides a bit too violently with the sharpness of the character sprites, the scene transitions are so glitchy that you believe they really shouldn’t be here. Each of these angels have failed in some way, and you, Ezekiel, have the option to tempt them, provoke them, love them, and manipulate them into telling you what they are doing in the slums and what kind of relationship they have with God. However, as of my current playthrough, one of the angels is missing…
If you fail to engage with or continue conversation with the seraphim, the game will either end with a Satanic Slum screen, giving you the option to continue or quit, or the application will quit altogether. Continuing will take you to the last wrong choice you’ve made, but now the text in the choices have changed. Some will be struck out and additional lines added, usually a reminder or note as to why you wouldn’t want to pick that option. Some of it is pretty sassy, and I appreciate that. Speaking of sass…
Some scenes rely solely on sound and voice acting. The scene above is incomprehensible, but Lauren Kong, voice of Ezekiel, says her line very clearly, and with such a soft vocal fray that it’s hard not to hang on each syllable… There are very little things I wouldn’t do to have her tell me how she’ll “break (my) fucking heart” again…~
My first hour or two with this game was a stark reminder that I am, in fact, too gay to function sometimes. Despite that, I’m thoroughly intrigued with this game and I look forward to writing a larger piece on it very soon.
Download Seraphim Slum here.