It's time to get spooky, and it's not even Halloween. The Haunted PS1 Demo Disc 2021 is here and it's packed to the brim with some of the best upcoming horror game demos you'll find anywhere online. Most of them have a very PS1-era aesthetic, hence the name, but while some of them eschew the typical 3D polygonal graphics of the console, they all have at least a passing relationship with horror. There are 25 games packed into this one download, so below we've hand-picked some of the most interesting games featured in the collection for your gaming pleasure.
Most Interesting Gameplay - Lorn's Lure
Starting off with a game that's just great to play, Lorn's Lure is probably the game that you'll have the most fun with. Set in the far future (presumably), you control an android who finds himself accidentally trapped inside a huge underground structure. With no hope of escaping the way he came, all he can do is venture further into the depths of the place, in hopes that he finds some way back to the world above.
Being 100% honest, I was not expecting to find a first-person climbing game on The Haunted PS1 Demo Disc 2021. Honestly, I'm not sure I would have expected to find this sort of game anywhere. Triple-A titles in the past have often dabbled in free running games, such as Mirror's Edge and Dying Light, but it's rare to find a game that is very specifically about climbing, rather than about running around an urban playthrough leaping from building-to-building like that one scene in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man.
The main mechanics of Lorn's Lure see you trying to pick your way carefully through a huge, cavernous environment. At first, all you have is a jump button and some GUI elements that tell you how far away the spot you're looking at is. You have to make your way across the open areas, carefully jumping down onto pipes and running along them to reach new areas. Eventually, you pick up some climbing picks and find yourself able to move upwards on any porous surface. This introduces a stamina bar, preventing you from sticking to the walls for too long lest you plunge to your untimely death.
The real draws of Lorn's Lure come from the fact that it's just fun to observe your environment and figure out how you need to carefully pick your way across this wide, sweeping chasm, with only pipes and broken metal structure to aid you. It's fun to take a running leap off of a pipe, before skidding to a halt on a wall using your picks. It's all aided by the interesting story of a trapped android and, even more than that, the great atmosphere. The chasm is huge and industrial-looking. With the great use of ambient sound, you'll struggle to find a game with a more oppressive and foreboding feel than this one. Plus, it's pretty easy to see how this one would be turned into a full game. Just make sure the environments change a little as you move on and keep that story interesting and you're golden. Plus, speedrunners will love this thing.
Just For The 𝓪𝓮𝓼𝓽𝓱𝓮𝓽𝓲𝓬 - EchoStasis
If you're aware of the term analog horror then you'll probably be aware of the vibe that EchoStasis is giving off. The subgenre of internet horror video was started by series' like Local58 and the Tempest Universe series, it's basically a genre of horror that uses metanarrative and fourth-wall elements to creep you out. Effectively, EchoStasis feels very much like it's one of these analog horror videos bought into the realm of video games.
The story of EchoStasis has something to do with some kind of neurological experiment. Starting out, it's not 100% clear what sort of role your character is taking. Are you the researcher? The subject? Some third-party? Even as things go on it's not immediately clear what responsibility your character takes for everything that happens, especially not when you start to bring a suspicious AI and an unknown entity into the mix.
EchoStasis features lots of VHS-style distortion and fourth-wall-breaking, and it loves to play with your expectations as you play. It's almost a surreal, dream-like experience, especially when you find yourself exploring a single location on a time-limit, slowly unlocking shortcuts that allow you to explore further. It's very reminiscent of the logic you find in dreams, where your legs don't seem to work right and your spatial reasoning begins to go haywire. The strange tone of the game keeps you wanting more, so here's hoping that the game gets the full release it deserves in the near future.
The Most Spoopy - Ghastly Goodies
Spoopy is an art form in its own right. If you're not aware, spoopy refers to the art of making something, spooky but also cute and kind of comical at the same time. Ghastly Goodies is the embodiment of that concept. It tells the story of a pair of children with Rugrats-levels of negligent parents, who are dropped off in a random scary neighborhood to go trick-or-treating on Halloween night. As they explore the area, gobbling up candy, things go from bad to worse as they're chased down by horrific monsters hellbent on their destruction.
If you've ever played a game called Grab By The Ghoulies, you may find the vibe very similar to this game, albeit without the U.K.-centric pun and with a sprinkling of actual horror thrown in for good measure. Your main goal is to run around, collecting candy and solving puzzles without dying. Mostly this involves picking up items and using them in specific locations. As you progress, things get pretty dark, pretty quickly.
If any game gives you the wrong impression, it's Ghastly Goodies. Everything looks so cute and safe, when the first monster showed up you're probably expecting a cutesy death animation that matches something akin to Crash Bandicoot if you fail to escape. What you actually get is probably closer to Manhunt. Seriously, I was just not expecting to see a child's head leaving its body when I started playing this game. Luckily, it's not just puzzles and a jarring change in tone that the game has to offer.
The puzzles aren't the real focus of the gameplay, it's mostly about the monsters. Each monster requires a different set of actions if you want to escape them untouched. Some want you to run away as fast as you can, some require you to learn patterns to avoid encountering monsters. While there's not much of the game on display here, a full game with various different monsters to deal with and the strangely satisfying juxtaposition between the graphics and the tone make this one to keep your eye on.
Pick Of The Disc - Chasing Static
Honestly, in this day and age, first-person indie horror games are common, so a game really has to do something to stand out. Chasing Static has one of the most interesting combinations of stories and settings, not to mention the ever-popular PS1 aesthetic. Set in Wales, the game tells the story of a man who is returning to his hometown in rural Wales after burying his father. Stopping at the final rest stop on his road, he meets the waitress who works there, and before long, things start to get weird.
Rural Wales is a setting you don't often see in horror games, but it's such a good choice. If you've never been, the more remote areas of the country are really pretty isolated, mostly with terrible phone signals and even worse connections to the outside world. It is this isolated, wooded setting that really sells Chasing Static. As the game opens, you don't know much about what is going on. You're just driving along, messing around with the radio and glove box.
Pulling into the cafe, it's not immediately clear that anything sinister is going on, other than the fact that you're playing a horror game, of course. Your conversation with the waitress is mundane, going over the reason you're returning home and why you're in a cafe in the middle of nowhere. It's really indicative of great pacing that the game spends a decent amount of time with nothing creepy happening at all, lulling you into a false sense of security, something not enough horror games seem to have time for these days.
It's difficult to get into the story any further, as revealing what goes on beyond this point feels like spoiling the experience for everyone else. Suffice to say, the narrative goes to some very interesting places that make the most of the rural setting. Also, you have to give props to a game that gives you the option of just getting into your car and buggering off again instead of proceeding into the creepy woods on your own. Not saying it works out for the best, but it's nice to be given the "common sense" option for once.
The Haunted PS1 Demo Disc 2021 - Honorable Mentions
The Haunted PS1 Demo Disc 2021 is so stuffed full of great games that I don't have enough space to properly go into all the good stuff, so here is a rapid-fire list of some of the other gems you don't want to miss.
Agony of a Dying MMO
If you've ever been part of an MMO that was going away or part of a fringe community online, this one might appeal to you. Just bear in mind that the content here is... dark, in places. Do not try to stream it or play it in front of family members. It's basically a fake MMO, set in a game that has 12 hours left before shutdown. You play as various players dealing with the game that has some really sinister implications.
This is basically a surreal, voxel-based game that bears a lot of similarities to Minecraft. You play as a strange mummy-like creature and have to exhume and interact with corpses to progress. Mummy Sandbox features a great art style, and in particular, the corpses you talk to are amazing and I want them as stickers.
It's a cutesy PS1-era 3D platformer at first, but before long the world starts going crazy. The most interesting part of this is that it has some great controls, and it seems to hold the pretense of being a normal game just long enough to make it interesting when the switch flips.
It's hard to really describe this one. An Outcry is a top-down adventure game that deals with some very interesting issues, including the concept of identity, feelings of isolation and depression, as well as mass hallucination and potentially even fascism.
The Haunted PS1 Demo Disc 2021 - And That's That
So there you have it. These are some of the most interesting games you'll find on The Haunted PS1 Demo Disc 2021, but you should really consider checking them all out if you have the time. You can learn more about the disc at its Itch.io page.