Attention: World of Horror is an early access game. This review may not reflect the finished product
Experience the quiet terror of this 1-bit love letter to Junji Ito and H.P. Lovecraft. Navigate a hellish roguelite reality with turn-based combat and unforgiving choices. Experiment with your deck of event cards to discover new forms of cosmic horror in every playthrough. The inevitable awaits… ~From the Steam Page
Note: As noted above this is an early access game. Also I only played through the tutorial for this review. I may revise this as I play more of the main game. Despite my score I HIGHLY recomend buying this game!
Sargon’s Rating: (3.8 / 5)
|Visual:||(5.0 / 5)|
|Audio:||(5.0 / 5)|
|Gameplay:||(3.0 / 5)|
|Story:||(5.0 / 5)|
|User Interface:||(1.0 / 5)|
World of Horror Rating: 3.8
World of Horror is a beautiful indie game developed by Panstsz. It reminded me fondly of many games I played decades ago with its stunning art style and beautiful audio elements. I find this type of game, especially in this genre very compelling. That does not mean that it is without problems. I found several glaring issues with the gameplay, however, that is just my opinion. It is possible that other people will adore the game for exactly what it is. Personally, I hope that changes are made before its final release, it is only in early access after all.
World of Horror has some stunning visuals. It is amazing with a mere 1bit color scheme the artist could make the game so beautiful. The settings are effective at drawing the player in, which causes the game to be even more creepy. The monsters are truly disturbing. The game cites Lovecraft as an influence, and the Developer demonstrates it in the settings and creatures.
What is most impressive is how the monsters embrace the Lovecraftian themes so well. I have seen movies and AAA games fail to capture the genuine horror of these mind shattering abominations. I believe the combination of Lovecraft combined with the Japanese like horror aesthetic creates this chilling effect. Whatever it is, I can only enjoy the visuals of the game in complete awe.
I usually turn off background music in video games, however, this is one of the few games where I left it on. It only added to the feel of the game. It quickly blended into the background and provided that ambiance games with more aggressive music tracks seem to miss. I never know what to say about audio, but I know what I like and I like this. The 16 bit sound I believe it is (feel free to correct me in the comments) truly harkens back to the old days of gaming on Nintendo and Super Nintendo.
One aspect of the game that did not entirely satisfy was the gameplay. I really enjoyed some aspects of it. Searching for the pieces to complete the puzzle was fun. I never knew what I would find as I explored the school. Being able to pick how I handled situations while simplistic was also enjoyable. The best part was having to make sure I drew the ritual sigil correctly at the end of the game.
The not bad but frusterating
Now on to what frustrated me; First, I am not a fan of the constant combat. I have other issues with the combat system, which I will address in the interface section. In its current form, the game feels to combat oriented. I would love other solutions to a problem than just fighting. It seems like the game wants to give those options, but they are not available yet, or maybe just not available in the tutorial I played. I know several places before a fight things were mentioned, such as a small key and having taken classes in specific subjects. Maybe I am just missing something here. I hope when I do a more complete play through I can find non-combat options to many areas.
Another issue was how searching the school works. I would much prefer a map so I can select where I am going. Feeling like I was being forced down a very specific route each time I did a search wasn’t fun, then odd things seemed to happen. I would be on my way to the library but end up in a biology classroom. I did not care for this. Had the game informed me I heard something coming from the classroom and investigated, I would understand it. However, I think I would like more agency in my explorations and get to select where in the school I am going.
I also am not sure if it was timing or what, but I would have thought completing the ritual would have prevented me from having to fight the monster? Maybe I was just to late.
World of Horror Story: 5.0
The limited parts of the story I have seen have been fantastic. I am an author myself and an avid reader; I find the story and writing in the game to be fantastic. This beyond anything else is why I believe the game is worth purchasing. I have the desire to fully explore this world, solve its mysteries, and meet all of its monsters.
Usually when a game uses text instead of speech to tell me a story, I get bored. While I love reading the quality of the story, they are attempting to relay is horrible. This is even true of some AAA games. Bland characters, flat stories, and dull plots. Right away World of Horror drew me in, discussing my past exploits within the world. Then it laid before me a mystery my character would find very personal. Props to the author of this magnificent text.
This is one of those games I hope they make it a point to create some short stories and novels about. I could see losing myself in books telling me the tales of this world. With such a rich cast of monsters prowling the doomed town I would love to hear more of their history. How did they get here? Why are they here? While the game may give us some of these answers, it is always satisfying to hear the story as the author intended it, and not just the story as we experience it in the game. At least in my opinion.
User Interface: 1.0
The interface in World of Horror is the one place I feel they need to focus further development efforts. In almost every other criticism I have of the game, it could have been the limitations of the tutorial. However, the combat interface is just horrible. Rather than have icons, I have to mouse over to see more information, why not use some of the blank space and have buttons with words? That would let me select what I wanted more quickly, and then I could still mouse over the buttons to get more information. That part of the interface in such a critical aspect of the game just felt way to clunky.
World of Horror Summary
This game is already well worth the 14.99 price tag. As the Developer continues to work on it I believe it will only get better. I would love to see them take a few of my suggestions to improve the game. The three I view as most critical to making this a timeless classic are as follows.
First, give me more agency in the game when I explore. I do not want the game to randomly decide where I explore. I understand this may be a requirement of the game so mysteries are not solver to quickly, however; it is a game play mechanic I currently do not like.
Second, do not force me to rely so heavily on combat. I saw some interesting options I was unable to take advantage of so I think this issue will be addressed in the future.
Finally, clean up the combat interface. It just felt clunky and poorly thought out. This is completely understandable though as this is an early access game. I know when I do development I often put a good enough to get the job done interface in before cleaning it up.
Honestly, everyone should buy this game either now, or when it is released. I believe it will be well worth it. This is the type of game than can and should create a franchise.