Hands-on with the 1-bit horror experience’s console port
World of Horror is a wild, highly retro infused turn-based game that mashes rogue-likes with point & click adventures and turn-based RPGs, designed with a love of Junji Ito. Whew! It’s still in Early Access, but the latest version is coming to consoles, so we recently grabbed the PS5 controllers at PAX East and took the version for a spin. And it’s an experience!
The game crosses a lot of genre boundaries, and so it’s hard to classify. It’s best described as an old-school dungeon crawler with a lot of modern influences, wound together behind a card-based scenario system. The cards that we are dealt from decks help define our scenarios and items, modifying each run of whatever campaign we’re on so that it’s unique each time. We can play the basic set campaigns, or whatever the deck deals us (which, frankly, is where the magic is). We can get a mission for something like a ritual summon at our school where we need to kill the evil scissor lady that’s been terrorizing it — and the whole scenario is created by the cards that have been drawn.
In fact, there are a lot of dice roles and card draws that happen behind closed doors that manage the game, and it’s a fascinating construction, especially when we actually go through the process of playing the game. Exploration is like those old-school adventure games, but if we engage in combat that suddenly becomes a turn-based RPG experience. And, if we don’t have the correct weapon or item to proceed, we can hop into a text adventure mode to find what we need, typing commands to look around and pick things up.
The game lets us play as different characters and unlock different decks for different stories, and the PC version even has custom decks/stories that players create that we can download — but we have no idea if that will come to the console versions or not.
It’s a bizarre combination, but it works really well.
The only thing that doesn’t really work is the user interface. World of Horror needs a better UI for the console versions, and because of the little buttons and menus on the screen it’s difficult to manage. In fact, it’s a little weird that the dev team didn’t opt to use the PlayStation controller’s touchpad to interact with the menus, because that would have made a lot of sense. That may be important, because during our session the amount of stick drift we had from the controller kept veering out pointer off to the side.
We overuse the word alot, but the game is ESOTERIC. It’s great on PC, even in Early Access, and it’ll be interesting to see how it fully translates into the console ports.
Images and video courtesy Ysbryd Games and Panstasz Games.