You're walking downtown unnerved for some unknown reason. You feel hundreds of eyes on the back of your neck but there is no one else on the street. As you turn the corner you see your neighbors' bodies strung up in webs. It's too late, they're already victims of Atlach-Nacha -- The spider god.
What I've just described represents roughly 30 seconds of playing Kyofu No Sekai -- World of Horror. Taking the tone of a lost PC game you found in your relative's attic, World of Horror is a 1-bit card-based mystery/survival game. If that word salad wasn't enough to sell you, we tracked down the games' creator Panstas to tell us more about his vision of cosmic horror.
How did you decide to create a 1-bit cosmic horror game?
Me being lazy. A year ago I was designing a print-and-play solitaire card game for myself using Ito's art. Printing and cutting new cards, updating rules and looking for a specific image took way too much time, though. I decided to port the idea into computers and the project grew from there.
You wear your Junji Ito influence on your sleeve. What about his works inspired you to make World of Horror?
Most of his comics operate on the local level. It's something you can easily relate to yourself - the very essence of good horror, in my opinion. Ito's unique craft brings that personal feeling and elevates it to the literal cosmic scale, not losing a bit of that atmosphere and terror that sucked you in in the first place.
Why do you think we don't see more Junji Ito inspired games?
The line between Junji Ito's and western horror is blurred. Place here plays an important part - would Ito's stories work in a setting that's not Japan? H.P. Lovecraft has a huge established cult following and it shows in the amount of released video games, but as Junji Ito is getting more famous in the west we are starting to see real gems, like SpaceZeta's From Next Door.
What is it like making a game that is so influenced by Japanese culture in Poland?
Frankly, not that weird. My good friends at Bulbware paved the way for the polish Ito-inspired games with their awesome Bulb Boy (which everyone should check out). Explaining the game to friends and family did gave me a few odd looks but the general response is surprisingly positive.
It feels like we're seeing a lot of Cthulu lately, what are you doing to appeal to people who aren't necessarily fans of Lovecraft's works?
Not being constrained within Cthulhu mythos allows me to create unique stories you'd rarely see in video games. I want to surprise you, scare you and - above all - I want you to have fun with something new.
World of Horror has a beautiful and unique aesthetic. How did you develop this art style and how does it compliment the other parts of the game?
I wanted WOH to be as close to the source material as possible. 1-bit palette was an obvious choice to represent black and white art of the comic pages. I make graphics in MS Paint, its limitations force you to get creative. The vagueness of early Macintosh graphics lets your imagination fill in the blanks.
World of Horror is still fairly early in development. What are you still working on and when can we look forward to a full release?
Most of the features are ready for the full release. It's a matter of adding new cards and balancing existing ones now. A new demo should be released late May / early June with the full version planned for late summer.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.