"Kyōfu no Sekai digitizes the mechanics of tabletop horror games such as Arkham Horror or Tragedy Looper, set against the backdrop of an unmistakably Junji Ito-influenced setting, with a touch of Uno Moralez thrown in for good measure."
My favorite type of horror is that which is inherently incomprehensible: macabre tales of bizarre events, surreal curses, or a world not unlike our own where everything just feels a little bit...off. The less detailed the backstory, the better: give me something to mull over for weeks and you've got a fan for life.
Manga author Junji Ito excels at this type of horror. His masterwork Uzumaki
sees a sedate seaside town become inexplicably obsessed by the shape of a spiral, which causes a downward spiral of its own. It's never explained why
this happened, and the work is all the stronger for it. I've always felt Ito would be a perfect fit for a horror game, and it's unfortunate that he's had precious little involvement within the medium. Uzumaki
had a pair of short, Japan-only WonderSwan games at the turn of the millennium, and fans recently had their hearts broken when it was revealed that Ito was involved in Konami's ill-fated Silent Hills project before it was canceled in early 2015.
It's starting to look unlikely that we'll ever see a fully fledged game from Ito, but enthusiasts of his work have taken matters into their own hands. ~Kyōfu no Sekai~ WORLD OF HORROR is one such work that happens to borrow the tone of Ito's oeuvre without infringing on his copyright, while still maintaining its own identity. Currently in development from solo designer Panstasz, Kyōfu no Sekai is a card-based investigative RPG that sees players attempt to solve ghastly mysteries before the advent of an unstoppable Eldritch Abomination.
Displayed in loving homage to the graphics of the Macintosh Plus, Kyōfu no Sekai digitizes the mechanics of tabletop horror games such as Arkham Horror or Tragedy Looper, set against the backdrop of an unmistakably Ito-influenced setting, with a touch of Uno Moralez
thrown in for good measure. Players choose both a character and Abomination, each with their own stats/perks and curses, respectively. After those are set, a Mystery Card is drawn, which details the overarching scenario.
Keeping with the theme, each scenario feels very much like an issue of a horror manga anthology. Perhaps you find yourself investigating a contagious coma disease, or following rumors that missing high school girls are being vivisected into mermaids. Once a scenario is active, you're able to investigate eight different locations in search of clues to the mystery. Investigation comes with a price, however, in the form of event cards that play out at each location. These can be mundane or unsettling, and depending on your stats (and a hidden die roll) you may gain a new item or lose some of your sanity or health. Occasionally, an event may also result in a combat encounter, where you find yourself engaged against a cultist, a vengeful spirit, or something much more abominable. These battles play out in turn-based fashion, with weapons and spells adding damage modifiers to your die rolls. Depending on how corporeal your foe is, they may inflict physical damage or deplete your sanity when they attack. Whether you're killed or driven insane, losing all health or sanity results in a game over.
You can download the alpha demo yourself from Kyōfu no Sekai's itch.io page
. Keep in mind that it's a very rough demo indeed, one perhaps better described as a proof of concept than an alpha: it's buggy, obtuse and some options aren't yet functional. Although it remains to be seen what the finished game will be like, Kyōfu no Sekai hits all the right notes, and I can't wait to see it fully featured.