Survival horror game ‘The Callisto Protocol’ will arrive on December 2nd

The Callisto Protocol, a survival horror game from Dead Space creator Glen Schofield has a release date. It’s coming to PlayStation 4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and PC on December 2nd. The date was revealed in a trailer that offers a first look at the gory, atmospheric terrors the game has in store.

The trailer evokes a similar feeling of dread as the Dead Space series. Schofield says his team put a lot of work into the lighting and other elements to make The Callisto Protocol seem suitably creepy.

Players will take on the guise of Jacob Lee (played by Josh Duhamel), an inmate at a prison on Jupiter’s so-called “dead moon” of Callisto. Jacob is thrust into a fight for survival when guards and fellow inmates start mutating into monsters called Biophage. You’ll wield a gravity weapon called the GRP (which was intended for use by the prison’s guards. Schofield says you’ll be able to freeze a charging enemy or launch the creatures into environmental hazards.

The game is in development at Schofield’s Striking Distance Studio, a subsidiary of PUBG owner Krafton. Originally, The Callisto Protocol was supposed to tie into the PUBG universe, but Schofield said last month his game is now a separate entity.

You’ll get another look at The Callisto Protocol next Thursday, as the Summer Game Fest showcase will feature a gameplay demo. Meanwhile, EA is working on a remake of the original Dead Space, which is set to arrive on January 27th.

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Doki Doki Literature Club is Still a Master of Horror

Doki Doki Literature Club! is a psychological horror game dressed as a cutesy anime dating sim — and it’s also one of the internet’s worst-kept secrets. In fact, some marketing materials say it right in the description. What’s less apparent is how it separates itself from other horror games with the way it disrupts your sense of normalcy and breaks your favorite characters like dolls in the process.

I played Doki Doki Literature Club to celebrate Halloween because I knew it was a horror game. However, I didn’t know how it was a horror game until I experienced it for myself. Creator Dan Salvato told Kotaku that he took inspiration from “things that are scary because they make you uncomfortable, not because they shove scary-looking things in your face.” Doki Doki Literature Club! faithfully follows his description as it establishes a norm that it pulls out from under your feet. It scares players with the stark contrast between its first two arcs and warns them to watch their step as they click through the dialogue.

High school horror

As advertised, Doki Doki Literature Club! starts as your typical high school romance. It’s something familiar to anime trope lovers across the internet. You play as the bland male protagonist who could use some excitement in his life. His childhood friend drags him into joining the Literature Club, which just happens to be full of cute girls. Understandably, he takes it as an opportunity to learn about more than just literature.

Players write poems using seemingly random words that appeal to specific characters. Some words like “starscape” match Yuri, the introverted bookworm who prefers imagery in her poems. More romantic words like “daydream” better suit Sayori. Players witness different cutscenes related to these characters depending on which girls like their poems. If you choose cutesy words to cater to Natsuki, then you learn more about her during the next cutscene. You can also choose who to work with on festival preparations, how to disrupt a club argument, and so on. However, that all goes out the window after the game takes a bloody turn.

how to write poems in ddlc

The ending of the first act establishes a new norm: Choices no longer matter. After the first character dies, they appear as a glitchy mess on the title screen. All the save files are gone, so redos are out of the question. Once you attempt a new game, you find a rewritten premise without the dead character. It becomes more and more obvious that the game isn’t going to work the way you thought it did. It really makes you think, “Wow, they had me in the first half.”

The protagonist, who at least had a trace of a personality in the first act, has seemingly disappeared. He becomes a non-character — or just a vessel that the player uses to experience the game. There’s no commentary on the creepy glitches or interactions. Only the player experiences the jump scares, bloated black text, and snaps in character. 

natsuki confiding in protagonist

It’s not just how the game works, though. It’s how the characters act. Players know enough about the characters from the first act to have an idea of how they typically behave. Even the characters in the game note how they don’t feel like themselves or that the others seem to be acting more strangely than usual. There’s just enough of the core game left that it’s hard to predict what will really happen and who the next victim might be. 

I didn’t play Doki Doki Literature Club! completely blind. Still, I feared what the next textbox would bring once I realized that act two was a brand new game. Subtle changes hinted at the upcoming surprises — like an uncharacteristic facial expression or black text bubbles with strange, bloated letters. Once the moment passed, I would ease up, only for the emotional roller coaster to charge uphill again.

Sayori talking to Monika

Doki Doki Literature Club twists a fluffy dating sim into a high school horror that kills off your friends. It makes you question your choices and effectively limits them at the same time. If a game could have a mental breakdown, this would be it. That’s what makes it scary.  

Doki Doki Literature Club is one of the best free-to-play games available on PC. It also has an expansion available on PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and the Nintendo Switch for a price. It’s worth recommending to people who don’t like horror played straight. However, it isn’t suitable for children or easily disturbed folks.

Editors’ Choice

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A Quiet Place is getting a horror video game adaptation in 2022

Hit movie A Quiet Place is the inspiration for a single-player horror video game adaptation scheduled for release next year. It’s easy to see why the movie would inspire a video game: the plot revolves around walking as quietly as possible to avoid alerting hostile, violent aliens who really dislike noise.

The upcoming A Quiet Place video game was announced on Tuesday by EP1T0ME, which says it will work with Saber Interactive and iLLOGIKA to develop a single-player video game adaptation based on the movie. According to the company, A Quiet Place the game will be story-driven, giving gamers another title that allows them to embed themselves within the world.

Though the video game adaptation will be based on the hit Paramount movie, EP1T0ME says the title will present an original storyline based on the monster-infested universe. Gamers are promised “gameplay that captures the compelling suspense, emotion and drama for which the series is famous.” Development for the game has already started at iLLOGIKA.

iLLOGIKA studio boasts notable talent behind some hit game titles, including Rainbow Six and Far Cry. Saber Interactive, meanwhile, will publish A Quiet Place the game. EP1T0ME doesn’t have any other details about the title at this time, a teaser image aside, but it promises to return with more information about A Quiet Place later this year.

In a statement about the project, Saber Interactive Head of Publishing Todd Hollenshead said:

The amazing success of the “A Quiet Place” movies makes it clear audiences are hungry for more adventures in this universe, and iLLOGIKA is creating their own truly engaging experience that lives up to the name of this beloved property. We are proud to say that “A Quiet Place” is the first game we will be releasing by an external studio from the growing Saber publishing label.

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9 Terrifying Horror Games You Can Play on Xbox Game Pass

Halloween is right around the corner and a lot of players are getting into the holiday spirit by playing as many horror games as possible. This year, Xbox Game Pass makes the search for scares especially easy with a wickedly good collection of fear-inducing horror games included with a subscription. Microsoft could honestly change the name to Xbox Fright Pass in honor of the season with how many creepy and thrilling titles are available right now.

Here are some of the best horror games available on Xbox Game Pass this Halloween season. Alternatively, if you can’t do horror, check out our list of spooky games for Halloweenies.

Back 4 Blood

Back 4 Blood is a spiritual successor to Left 4 Dead with a lot of obvious influences (it’s no surprise that it’s actually made by the same developers). It’s a squad-based first-person shooter that’s best enjoyed with a group of friends where players are tasked with surviving against an endless horde of gruesome, parasite-infected zombies, called “Ridden.”

Explosive zombies, giant zombies, bloated zombies — it’s all here and the strategies you and your friends will need to build to survive make it a great horror experience that’s best enjoyed together. Just picture a bigger, more modern version of Left 4 Dead, but with a surprisingly fun card system that lets you create specific builds.

The Dead Space series

Dead Space has a reputation for being one of the scariest gaming experiences out there. Those claims are 100% true and now it’s easier than ever to witness the horror of the entire series thanks to it all being readily available on Game Pass, via EA Play. Set in the year 2508, the game follows Issac Clarke, a space engineer who has to fight against hulking Necromorphs that want to tear his limbs off.

With a new remake of the first game in the series on the way, now is a perfect time to go into space and fight some of the creepiest enemies in gaming.

Destroy All Humans!

For fans of those campy “horror” flicks of the 50s, 70s, or even horror satire films like Mars Attacks or Killer Clowns From Outer Space, Destroy All Humans! is the Halloween game for you. You play as an invading alien in the 1950s United States and go through all the classic tropes of probing, abducting cows, shooting ray guns, and more. This is all accompanied by hilarious writing that’s made the game into a cult classic.

The version on Xbox Game Pass is a remake of the original 2005 game, so it has been modernized with updated visuals. So you can enjoy the classic without all the awkward fuss of a mid-2000s action platformer.

The Doom series

Game Pass features all the Doom you could ever want from the original to the newest entry, Doom Eternal. That’s thanks to Microsoft’s Bethesda acquisition, which brought all of its best properties to Xbox Game Pass. Other great horror games like Prey are now on the service because of that, but Doom is a major addition.

This series isn’t about making the player feel scared. Rather, it’s the player that gets to put fear into the hearts of the demons hunting them using a massive arsenal of heavy weaponry. Though admittedly, the original Doom might make you jump a few times during its dense trek through the mazes of Mars.


If you’re sick of being the hero of the horror story trying to kill a scary creature, why not try being the grotesque monster instead?

Devolver Digital’s reverse horror Metroidvania, Carrion puts players in control of a Lovecraftian creature on the hunt for the humans that dared to imprison it. The Carrion grows stronger with every feast, giving it access to more abilities and more ways to stalk and kill its prey.

Resident Evil 7

Resident Evil 7 is one of the most prolific titles in the horror game genre in a long time. Coming off a string of weak games, it brought the struggling series back to life with a fun story, very memorable characters, and a return to classic Resident Evil horror and cheese-factor. It’s a back-to-basics reboot that focuses on a scary house, a handful of terrifying monsters, and some good old-fashioned jump scares.

If you’ve never played a Resident Evil game before, this is a great place to start. Even divorced from the franchise, it’s one of the best horror games in recent years, and a must-play Game Pass title this Halloween.

Alien: Isolation

If your goal is to find a game so scary that you want to turn the game off, Alien: Isolation is the one to play. Based on the Alien film franchise, the game features a persistent Alien enemy that stalks players around a ship. It’s absolutely terrifying.

This game has such a stressful atmosphere that you’ll literally be on the edge of your seat waiting for the next Xenomorph to show up the entire time. Though here’s a fair warning: You may throw your controller from time to time due to the scares. I sure did.


If Isolation isn’t scary enough for you, Visage might be up your alley. Fans of horror games owe it to themselves to try out this gem, as it’s easily one of the scariest games out there.

Visage takes a lot of notes from the John Carpenter school of horror. The game masterfully uses a tense atmosphere and a slow burn pace to amplify the scare factor as much as possible. The indie game is heavily inspired by P.T., a fantastic horror game that’s just about impossible to play, so this might be your next best option if you never got to try it.

Dead by Daylight

Dead by Daylight is a love letter to fans of horror movies and games. Not only does it feel like a classic slasher film made into a videogame, but it gives you the opportunity to play as some classic characters of the genre like Michael Myers, Hellraiser, Heather Mason, Jill Valentine, and a lot more.

This is an asymmetrical horror game where a team of humans has to escape from a player controlling a slasher villain. Whether playing as a hunter or survivor, each class has unique skills and different strategies to either work with others and escape or kill everyone in their way.

Editors’ Choice

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8 Spooky Halloween Games for People Who Don’t Like Horror

October is spooky season, where vampires, zombies, and cat people come out to play. A lot of people live for Halloween and look forward to the horrorfest every year. Unfortunately, I’m a weenie. I don’t like horror — never have, never will.

Still, I want to play some fitting games to get in the spirit of the season, so I’ve been finding some less scary options. They’re games that only kind of give you the chills or take place in pretty autumn settings, perfect for channeling your inner pumpkin spice. They’re also critically acclaimed games that should at least give you something to talk to your friends about, even if you end up not liking them. Best of all, they won’t keep you up at night or make the game barely playable because you’re afraid to turn the corner.

Here are a few picks for people who don’t like horror. Alternatively, if you’re not a weenie, you can instead look at our recommendations for the best horror games of all time.

Luigi’s Mansion 3

Luigi’s Mansion 3 replaces the typical haunted mansion with a haunted hotel. Luigi, Mario, and Princess Peach accept an invite to a luxurious resort, not realizing that it’s actually a bed of supernatural activity. Our hero Luigi wakes up from a nap in his hotel room to find everyone gone and the hotel overrun by ghosts. He, along with his trusty ghost dog Polterpup, must clean up the hotel’s ghostly infestation and save his brother and friends from the vengeful King Boo.

Luigi’s Mansion fits the Halloween theme with its haunted vibe — think Casper the Friendly Ghost. It’s not meant to terrify players as much as it is to tell a story that happens to have ghosts. Plus, its cartoonish graphics lighten the blow when it comes to scares. It’s easier to downplay any spookiness when a ball-nosed cartoon plumber is running around vacuuming blob-bodied ghosts. No eerily realistic rotting skin, chilling background music, or blood baths to be seen in these haunted halls.

Luigi’s Mansion 3 is available on the Nintendo Switch. Other Luigi’s Mansion games are fine picks for Halloween too, but Luigi’s Mansion 3 is the most modern one. As Digital Trends’ review put it, “Exploring all the different rooms with all the carefully added details and clever ghost encounters has a greater impact than it did in previous games.”

Little Nightmares 2

mono and six together

Little Nightmares 2 takes place in a dark, cluttered universe eerily similar to our own. Mono, a young boy wearing a paper bag over his head, finds himself trapped in this world that’s been distorted by a mysterious signal tower. He meets Six, the little girl wearing a yellow raincoat from Little Nightmares, and the two work together to uncover the secrets of the tower and save Six from her fate.

This prequel to Little Nightmares scares players in an unsettling, bubbling at the pit of your stomach kind of way. Its shadowy, bleak setting and silent protagonists moving about a dangerous area of spooky residents stir up a sense of unease. I kept it in this list because of how its suspense-filled story convinced me to continue through cryptic corridors, even though I felt it was scarier than what I was used to.

Jump into this realm of nightmares on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch, and Google Stadia. Alternatively, you can play Very Little Nightmares on mobile devices, which changes gameplay and graphics for a more easygoing spinoff adventure.

Famicom Detective Club

famicom detective club protagonists

Famicom Detective Club is a series, not just one title. Famicom Detective Club: The Missing Heir introduces an amnesiac protagonist who discovers that he’s a detective in the middle of solving a murder related to the wealthy Ayashiro family. On the other hand, Famicom Detective Club: The Girl Who Stands Behind stars the same protagonist before the events of Missing Heir. He investigates the murder of a schoolgirl alongside her best friend and leader of the Detective Club, Ayumi Tachibana.

Both games count as murder mystery visual novels. They aren’t made to be horror in a way that invokes a sense of creeping unease like some other titles on this list. However, they still involve murder and dead people in a way that might be entertaining for a late evening playthrough. The murders are also related to some urban legend ghost stories, which match the Halloween spirit. Overall, it checks off most elements of a scary story while keeping it light.

Both Famicom Detective Club games are available on the Nintendo Switch. You can buy one first to try out the games, or buy the entire bundle upfront for slightly cheaper than it would cost to separately buy each one.

What Remains of Edith Finch

looking at finch mansion through forest

What Remains of Edith Finch takes place through the eyes of Edith Finch, the last surviving member of the Finch family. Edith explores the abandoned Finch mansion to find out why she’s the only one left. It’s essentially an anthology of short stories about each Finch family member. You play through each Finch’s life through various interactive means until their untimely deaths.

Edith Finch has a rainy night vibe to it. Edith doesn’t seem to be in any immediate, bloody danger, but she is investigating her spooky family curse. The story explores themes of what people leave behind, but in an unnerving way that reminds us life is fleeting and our actions have consequences. As Creative Director Ian Dallas told Digital Trends, “What we’re really interested in is exploring a moment that feels very beautiful, but also a little unsettling.”

Find out what exactly remains of Edith Finch on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and iOS.

Lost in Random

Lost in Random tells the story of one sister’s quest to save their sibling from a twisted fairytale. In the Kingdom of Random, children roll a magical die on their twelfth birthday to decide where they live for the rest of their lives. Odd rolls a six, which should mean a life of luxury in the Queen’s Castle. However, one year later, her sister Even receives a signal that indicates Odd might be in danger. Even meets a sentient die named Dicey and the two fight through different districts to save Odd.

It’s a Tim Burton-esque adventure with spindly 3D characters, dreamy settings, and mean-looking monsters. Lost in Random might have a spooky premise with the kidnapped sister and all, but it’s also a heartwarming tale without putting it in outright nightmare territory. Even the promotional materials like the trailer scream storybook come to life. Digital Trends’ reviewer mentioned some cons, but it succeeded in entertaining them with well-developed (if long-winded) characters and an intriguing mystery.

Lost in Random is on the Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X/S, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, PS4, and PS5.

Night in the Woods

Night in the Woods stars college dropout Mae Benson in her return to her rundown hometown of Possum Springs. Players help Mae cope with her feelings of aimlessness while uncovering something sinister brewing behind the suburban normalcy of the Western Pennsylvania-based town. It’s a hybrid genre adventure game that’s sure to entertain with its variety of mini-games and humorous, thoughtful dialogue.

It takes place in the fall, but that’s not the only reason why it’s a Halloween game. There’s a murder mystery subplot underneath this coming-of-age story. Play through the events from Halloween (or the game’s version of it) all the way toward the winter to reconnect with old friends and uncover the shady happenings that might have to do with missing people in Possum Springs.

This game might be for you if you’re looking for a young adult novel in the form of an indie hybrid adventure game with ghostly undertones. It’s available on basically every gaming platform now including PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and mobile devices. It’s definitely one of the better indie games still worth playing in 2021 and beyond.

Doki Doki Literature Club

doki doki literature club characters

Doki Doki Literature Club seems like an innocent high school dating sim, but it’s actually a psychological horror game that subverts the genre. You play as a faceless protagonist who has the option of picking between three girls: Sayori, your cheerful childhood friend, Yuri, the shy beauty with a possessive side, and Natsuki, the small feisty girl with a temper. There’s also Monika, the non-romanceable club president.

It starts off as a fairly standard sim where the player composes poems with words that represent each girl to strengthen their bonds with them. Then, everything changes when a certain cataclysmic event corrupts the entire game. Players then witness a darkening narrative with each scene until the big reveal at “the end.” This so-called sim might be for you if you like anime tropes, philosophical discussions, and creepypasta.

Doki Doki Literature Club is one of the best free-to-play games you can get on PC, PS4, and Xbox One. It also has an expansion called Doki Doki Literature Club Plus!, which includes additional content. In addition to the aforementioned platforms, the expansion is also available on the Nintendo Switch.


inside house in oxenfree

Oxenfree starts as what seems like a typical coming-of-age story before the main characters discover a ghostly rift. You play as a teenage girl named Alex, who travels to Edwards Island with her friend Ren and new stepbrother Jonas to meet up for a weekend trip. There, they meet Clarissa, the former girlfriend of Alex’s dead brother, and Nona, Clarissa’s best friend. But, just as these friends start to explore the abandoned island, their weekend getaway shifts into something spooky.

Oxenfree relies on Alex’s decisions to drive the narrative to one of the multiple endings. Players uncover Edwards Island’s dark past and determine what ultimately happens to this band of friends. Decisions can get complicated, especially with the supernatural elements like time travel, pocket dimensions, and ghosts in the story. It’s never really the bloody kind of horror, but jump scares and suspenseful moments can get a rise out of players.

Oxenfree is available on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and Nintendo Switch. Its sequel doesn’t come out until 2022, so you have plenty of time to catch up on the original game on your platform of choice.

Editors’ Choice

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Tech News

WHO report on AI in healthcare is a mixed bag of horror and delight

The World Health Organization today issued its first-ever report on the use of artificial intelligence in healthcare.

The report is 165 pages cover-to-cover and it provides a summary assessment of the current state of AI in healthcare while also laying out several opportunities and challenges.

Most of what the report covers boils down to six “guiding principles for [AI’s] design and use.”

Per a WHO blog post, these include:

  • Protecting human autonomy
  • Promoting human well-being and safety and the public interest
  • Ensuring transparency, explainability and intelligibility
  • Fostering responsibility and accountability
  • Ensuring inclusiveness and equity
  • Promoting AI that is responsive and sustainable

These bullet points make up the framework for the report’s exploration of the current and potential benefits and dangers of using AI in healthcare.

The good news

The report focuses a lot of attention on cutting through hype to give analysis on the present capabilities of AI in the healthcare sector. And, according to the report, the most common use for AI in healthcare is as a diagnostic aid.

Per the report:

AI is being considered to support diagnosis in several ways, including in radiology and medical imaging. Such applications, while more widely used than other AI applications, are still relatively novel, and AI is not yet used routinely in clinical decision-making.

The WHO anticipates this will soon change.

Per the report, the WHO expects AI to improve nearly every aspect of healthcare from diagnostic accuracy to improved record-keeping. And there’s even hope it could lead to drastically improved outcomes for patients presenting with stroke, heart attack, or other illnesses where early diagnosis is crucial.

Furthermore, AI is a data-based technology. The WHO believes the onset of machine learning technologies in healthcare could help predict the spread of disease and possibly even prevent epidemics in the future.

It’s obvious from the report that the WHO is optimistic for the future of AI in healthcare. However, the report also details numerous challenges and risks associated with the wide-scale implementation of AI technologies into the healthcare system.

The bad news

The report recognizes efforts on behalf of numerous nations to codify the use of AI in healthcare, but it also notes that current policies and regulations aren’t enough to protect patients and the public at large.

Specifically, the report outlines several areas where AI could make things worse. These include modern day concerns such as handing care of the elderly over to inhuman automated systems. And they also include future concerns: what happens when a human doctor disagrees with a black box AI system? If we can’t explain why an AI made a decision, can we defend it if its diagnosis when it matters?

And the report also spends a significant portion of its pages discussing the privacy implications for the full implementation of AI into healthcare.

Per the report:

Collection of data without the informed consent of individuals for the intended uses (commercial or otherwise) undermines the agency, dignity and human rights of those individuals; however, even informed consent may be insufficient to compensate for the power dissymmetry between the collectors of data and the individuals who are the sources.

In other words: Even when everything is transparent, how can anyone be sure patients are giving informed consent when it comes to their medical information? When you consider the circumstances many patients are in when a doctor asks them to consent to a procedure, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where the intricacies of how artificial intelligence operates matters more than than what their doctor is recommending.

You can read the entire WHO report here.

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Silent Hill maker Keiichiro Toyama reveals new horror

The next title from Keiichiro Toyama is well on the way. The project, made by Silent Hill creator Toyama, will be created with the relatively new Bokeh Game Studio. This will be the first project by this studio – and if what we’re seeing so far is any indication, it’s going to turn our brains into shriveled chunks of fear.

An interview was posted this week by the YouTube channel of Bokeh Game Studio. This studio’s interview with Keiichiro Toyama suggests that they’re ready to roll with this next title in the near future. They’ve not yet given any solid release date, but HAVE shared a number of images that they suggest indicate the tone and depth of the game.

The game does not yet have a name, but we know it’ll be an action-adventure subgenre title. It’ll obviously have tones of terror, and it’ll be ready to scare gamers out of their wits with relative ease.

Much like ALIEN terrorized the masses with its mix of humanoid and machine, flesh and hard lines, this video game looks to harvest our collective deepest fears. Unsettling is the base of functionality here. There will be no settling for zombies, no lack of human hair and guts galore.

Mutations and aberrations in reality look like they’ll be shown in full force. Human bodies opening up and tentacles spewing forth, long insect legs and sacks of who-knows-what will very likely be present from the outset.

Per Keiichiro Toyama, this game won’t just be about “showing scary things.” Instead it’ll “question our position and make us challenge the fact that we’re living peacefully.” This might be too disturbing to consider playing on a full stomach.

Cross your fingers this will be a multi-platform release when the time comes. Given the potential for a game of this sort, we can’t imagine it’ll be relegated to a single console or operating system – but you never know!

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Deadeus Game Boy horror game

Who doesn’t love a game with a bit of atmosphere? Deadeus (pronounced “deddyoos”) is an indie horror title for the original Game Boy — or emulators thereof — and it has it in spades. The game has been available for a while as a name-your-own-price download, but it’s about to get a physical release on a suitably jet-black cartridge, pre-orders for which close next Monday. If you’re a fan of the retro games, or the genre, you should definitely play it, and if you have the requisite hardware, it should fit right into any great collection.

Don’t be deceived by Deadeus’ Pokémon-like graphics and play style. This game has dark undertones and is all the more delightful for it. The contrast between the ‘90s era Nintendo trees and picket fences with the themes of cult, ritual and murder couldn’t be starker, yet it feels entirely appropriate. You wouldn’t know it by playing it, but most of the game was made by one person and is a great showcase for Chris Maltby’s GB Studio development tool

As most good horror stories do, Deadeus starts with a nightmare. An angry god comes to our protagonist in the night with a hunger for flesh. Satiate that hunger, and he might spare the village but there’s a catch — you only have three days to figure out how, and with 11 endings on offer, every decision matters.

“The idea for the game that came mostly from a comic I’ve been writing forever, I had this small piece that I could call a story and put into this Game Boy game. […] it’s all drawn from that, all the art is my own and, and all based on that story.” Adam Birch, Deadeus’ creator told Engadget.

This makes much more sense when you know that Birch is an artist by trade. He works in UI design for UK game developer Coatsink and does his own suitably macabre designs on the side. One scan of his original pieces is all you need to know that any game he made was always going to have dark touches — the cutscenes, in particular, pull you out of the cozy RPG vibe and into the putrid underbelly of whatever weirdness is going on in this godforsaken town you inhabit.


Adam Birch

About that town; it’s where you’ll spend all of your time. That’s to say, this isn’t a sprawling landscape with warp stations and rival villages. You can navigate the playing area very quickly, but it doesn’t feel too limited. Deadeus’ time mechanic means that every new day brings new things to find and discover and also neatly adds a layer of strategy depending on which narrative you follow. No spoilers here, but there are definitely things you can miss on the first day that will stop you finding some of those 11 endings. 

Birch admits that while the time mechanic allows the relatively small world to expand in other ways, it also introduced some challenges. GB Studio makes game development much simpler, with almost no code, but with a project like Deadeus, it also introduces the potential for many bugs — characters appearing on day two that shouldn’t be there any more, for example. These were all ironed out of course, but added some unexpected challenges.

Of course, there are far bigger limitations when making something for a decades old platform. Especially if art is your thing. “With a Game Boy screen, there’s a limit to the amount of unique eight-by-eight tiles you can place on the screen. You can’t just draw a full image, whatever you want. So it was almost like a puzzle piecing it all together,” Birch added. You can see below how some of his designs had to be crunched down to work on the itty bitty display.


Adam Birch

Birch’s decision to use GB Studio also helped him find a partner for the physical release. A few publishers had contacted him about producing cartridge versions of Deadeus, but it was Spacebot that he ultimately went with. The team had already made something of a name for itself with Dragonborne, an RPG also made with GB Studio.

But why go to the effort of releasing a game on a cartridge that requires special hardware to play? Especially if that same game is effectively available for free? “I just wanted to put the thing I made out there for people to play, and with the smallest barrier to entry. So that is free.” Birch said. “I wanted anyone to be able to play it, and that was kind of important to me.” But a physical release was always something he was considering, “it was one of the things that’s kind of always on my mind, I just didn’t know how it would happen.” Spacebot was the answer.

Indie game development, particularly in the retro realm, is easy to see as an oddity. But its appeal is also easy to explain. The limitations of the platforms make it more manageable for individuals and small teams to work with. Plus, the back catalog of titles to draw inspiration from is huge and varied. And, of course, there’s the seductive lure of nostalgia — even decades later, seeing a game you made play on a real Game Boy (or modern physical emulation hardware) still feels magical.


Adam Birch

Back in our nightmare-infused village, things soon start to get weird. Townsfolk begin hinting that this isn’t the first time an angry deity has threatened the town. People close to you confide that weird things have been happening and they, too, have been having the same nightmare. As is the way with the genre, inconsequential statements often hide vital clues. Sometimes, though, they are just inconsequential statements. The fun is divining which is which.  

Don’t expect endless hours of playtime though. Even with 11 endings to discover, you can reach a full ending in less than two hours. By which time, you should have enough clues to go back and find the other stories with relative ease. But you will enjoy doing so, and at least one storyline is sophisticated enough to really have you thinking about timing and strategy to avoid a very easy dead end. This one, in particular, I have yet to complete.

For Birch’s part, he says he still feels like a bit of an outsider on the whole indie game-developer thing but is already working on his follow-up title, which sounds even more elaborate. “Probably my favorite Game Boy game is Super Mario Land 2. And that’s like, kind of the biggest inspiration [for it],” But of course, Birch wants to add his own cadaverous touches to it. “So what if we did that but like, a lot darker and kind of a lot more story-based?” Super Mario Land 2 with Metroidvania aspects and globs of moody atmosphere? Sign me up.

You can download Deadeus here or pre-order the physical release here.

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