The Dread X crew are back again with Dread X Collection 3, another collection of indie horror titles to give you the spookiest post-Halloween ever. This latest collection includes 12 brand-new titles from an almost entirely new collection of developers, except for Torple Dook. This time, the theme was "Spoopy," which means "cute but spooky" for anyone who doesn't know. As you can probably guess, that means that the line between cute and scary has been blurred so hard that I think I'm now scared of Bagpuss.
Dread X Collection 3 - EDEN: Garden of the Blameless
Eden: Garden of the Blameless is a very weird entry to start with. It's a very surreal game, featuring a bunch of names that I think are taken from angels in the Bible. You basically have to birth and raise several abstract creatures and then force them to race each other until you've won three times. It's a very simple concept and shares more than a touch of similarity with the Chao Garden from Sonic Adventure on the Dreamcast. The graphics are about on par with that game, and you're force-feeding magic fruit to the little pastel-colored creatures to raise their stats.
As you raise your first creature to max stats and win a race, you then can birth an even stronger creature and unlock more abilities. You can even raise their max potential to increase their stat cap. You're limited to only three creatures and are given the option to delete weaker ones to make room, but in my playthrough, I didn't even need to do that. My third creature was strong enough to win the final challenge, and in the end, I completed this game in about 20 minutes. If you're a fan of the Chao Garden you'll probably get a kick out of this, but beyond surreal graphics and surreal characters, it's a bit shallow.
Dread X Collection 3 - Spookware @ The Video Store
If you're a fan of the Warioware series, then Spookerware @ The Video Store will be very familiar to you, since it's literally just a spoopy version of that original game. Three skeletons sit down for a binge of horror movies leading up to Halloween, and to stop them from getting scared you have to complete a variety of microgames in different styles. Everything from the graphics to the gameplay captures the feeling of a Warioware title perfectly, and there's enough bite to keep you playing this one for a while. The only problem is that much like the game it's based on it's somewhat difficult to tell what you're supposed to do in each microgame the first time you play it.
Dread X Collection 3 - Sato Wonderland
I don't even get how this one fits into the whole "spoopy" thing at all. I was just 100% creeped out from start to finish. Sato Wonderland is set in a futuristic amusement park where the player works as an AI technician. As the game starts out, one of the AI helpers around the park has gone haywire, and it's your job to fix it up and decide whether it's safe to go back to work or if it needs to be retired permanently. Most of the gameplay is therefore basically a debug menu where you have to try and get answers from the machine about its recent malfunction.
There's definitely a story behind Sato Wonderland, and since most of the game's appeal lies in discovering that story, I won't spoil it here. Needless to say, the diagnostic section isn't the only string to this game's bow. Also if you're a fan of PS1-era graphics then you're in luck, because this game looks and plays like something that could have been part of Net Yaroze back in the day. The final segment, in particular, is as scary as they come, and if you're into the idea of PS1 horror being faithfully re-created, then you'll love this.
Dread X Collection 3 - Soul Waste
This is another game in the collection that borrows heavily from Sonic. In Soul Waste, you play as... a robot/rabbit thing? It's actually hard to tell what you're supposed to be through the dark, slightly muddy graphics. Either way, you're some sort of creature who gains momentum till they're moving insanely quickly, and you swing a sword to attack your enemies. The main way that Soul Waste bears similarity to Sonic is in the speedy protagonist, the controls, and level layout. The biggest difference is that this game appears to take place in hell.
So the main point is to run around, collect small crystals, and smash large crystals. You move quite quickly and jump quite far depending on your momentum, but luckily the world is quite wide, and rarely do you have to land too precisely. Much like the game series it's based on, Soul Waste suffers a little from some slippy controls. At times you literally feel like you're skating on ice, rather than running around hell, which gets frustrating. It's quite a short experience in the end though, even if the final boss feels like it drags on forever.
Dread X Collection 3 - Bubbo: Adventure on Geralds Island
Bubbo: Adventure on Geralds Island is probably the cutest game in this entire collection, and owes quite a lot to mid-'90s cartoon platformers. You play as a purple thing in a monogrammed T-shirt who has come to a brightly colored island to deliver something. Everyone you meet is very happy to see you and asks you to perform seemingly arbitrary tasks for various reasons if you want to get paid and leave the island. Eventually, it becomes pretty clear that everything isn't as bright and cheerful as it seems on the island.
This is probably the game that has the purest platforming challenge built into it. A lot of what you have to do requires you to perform tricky challenge jumps onto very tight platforms. There are even several times where you have to actually do these same challenges while being timed. It's also the game which has the harshest switch between cute and creepy, quite severely so in the finale if I do say so myself. There are also multiple endings, so you might find yourself coming back to this one more than once if you enjoy it.
Dread X Collection 3 - Chip's Tips
If you ever watched Blue's Clues as a kid, then you'll find Chip's Tips very familiar. As you can probably tell by the title, it's a horror point-and-click game based on the kid's TV series. You have to journey around a house getting stuff together for your upcoming Halloween party. Most of the gameplay comes down to solving puzzles and is pretty simple and short, but there's a lot to love here. The characters are mental, the textures will make your eyes bleed along with the FMV elements, and the game manages to be shockingly creepy as it goes on.
Dread X Collection 3 - Reactor
Reactor is the first game in the Dread X Collection 3 that describes itself as a feature, and I have to agree. It's basically an interactive short film that is part Solaris and part Hal 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey. While nothing seems to change no matter what you do in the game, the storyline is pretty enjoyable, and the graphics are pleasant. The worst thing you could say about Reactor is that there's not really much reason to go back to it a second time. Still, a very enjoyable experience while it lasts.
Dread X Collection 3 - Submission
Despite having finished this game quite early on in my time with Dread X Collection 3 I'm still not 100% sure what I've witnessed. At first, Submission seems to have taken the whole "spoopy" thing to heart with a game about colorful farmyard animals that devolves into creepy piles of blood and spooky dialogue within a few minutes. However, there's more here than you might first expect. Submission is actually a meta game about developing your submission for the Dread X Collection 3 and running out of time to do so.
As the original version of your game crashes and becomes unusable, you have to develop a new one on a deadline. The rest of the game becomes a weird exercise in coding, buying assets from a marketplace, and listening to a proxy for Clippy from Microsoft Word. Not only do things start getting even creepier as you go down the line, but the ending is so far out of left field that I honestly just didn't see it coming. If you're into the idea of a game where solving puzzles often involves coding new game mechanics (albeit not literally), then you'll love this.
Dread X Collection 3 - Nice Screams at Funfair
This is probably the game that I have the least to say about, but my first comment is that no game should have an intro longer than the actual game itself. Nice Screams at Funfair is a game in which you have to doll out ice cream to customers at an undead funfair. Almost the entire thing takes place in a single booth, and you just swivel around delivering ice cream. The controls are a bit too imprecise to highly recommend this one, and I was left cold (no pun intended) by the ending.
Dread X Collection 3 - Matter OVER Mind
Matter OVER Mind is a top-down puzzle game that I feel would have been at home on the PS1 back in the '90s. You play as a small green blob whose only means of defense is to jump onto people's heads and control their minds, which means that anyone wearing a helmet is 100% safe from you. You control your little blob, and after bursting from your containment vessel, you must stealth and mind control your way to the top of the company that experimented on you so you can escape to safety once more.
As you can probably guess, Matter OVER Mind has you keeping yourself hidden from anyone with a hat and a gun, so there's a fair bit of stealth to the game. Also because you're a tiny blob you can't go over grates or through the door on your own. Most of the puzzles are about working out who you need to mind control to continue. Graphically it looks very simple and clean, but once again, would fit well on a real PS1. The only downsides from a gameplay perspective are how long it takes to actually jump after pressing the button, and the fact that getting killed at any point forces you to start from the very beginning.
Dread X Collection 3 - Bete Grise
This is probably one of the more unique entries in Dread X Collection 3. Bete Grise is an isometric adventure game set in a luxury hotel. As a member of the hotel's staff, you must go up and down the various floors fixing vending machines, turning over rooms, and cleaning up problems for the various guests. As with every game in this collection, it's not really as simple as that. Things start to get creepy pretty much straight away, and you keep catching things out of the corner of your eye. There's also a coded message in one section that seems to spell out the word 'clamps' for some reason.
Rather than focusing on PS1-style graphics, Bete Grise goes for a more classic pixel style. Controls are overall very simple as you control the entire game with WASD, the E key, and your mouse. The story is mostly left up to the player's interpretation, but the fact that the main character maintains her cheery disposition even when things get irrevocably dark is probably the scariest part of the game. If I had to make one complaint it's the fact that like with many isometric games it can be a problem to guess if up will move you northeast or northwest.
Dread X Collection 3 - Disparity of the Dead
I intentionally left this one till last because it's the one I enjoyed the most. Disparity of the Dead is a 3D-platformer/adventure game hybrid that puts you in the shoes of an afterlife detective. People who are dying, don't seem to be showing up in the afterlife anymore so it's up to you to figure out why. More than any other game in the collection, this one nails the feeling and style of a PS1 game. From the texturing to the presentation and controls, it feels like a game that could be comfortably ported over to the console without anyone noticing it was made in 2020.
I was all set to name this as my top pick from the collection but, unfortunately, it seems like the game is bugged. Once you've collected the evidence, you need to go to the living world, and the game crashes after a few moments. I was really looking forward to the ending of this one based on the style and tone alone, but it looks like I'll be waiting a fair while to find out how this actually goes.
Overall, Dread X Collection 3 has improved again on what Dread X Collection 2 managed to provide. The entire collection is enjoyable for the most part, and the few exceptions were at least playable. While I personally will never get over not knowing how Disparity of the Dead ends, that's no reason not to enjoy the rest of these bite-sized chunks of spoopy horror. Once again, horror enthusiasts will find more than a little to like in this anthology, and if you're also a fan of PS1-era graphics and gameplay-styles then you're in for an extra special treat.
TechRaptor covered Dread X Collection 3 on PC via Steam with a code provided by the publisher.
Disclaimer: Our reviews editor, Samuel Guglielmo, works with the publisher of Dread X Collection 3. He was not involved with this article.