The Itch.io Chronicles is back, and this time, I’ll be taking a closer look at some of my favourite — and least favourite — titles from the first instalment of the Haunted PS1 Demo Disk: Tasty Ramen, heartworm, Dead Heat, and Effigy!
Tasty Ramen is, without a doubt, one of the most entertaining and charming demos in the entire series. Being an almost Slender-esque horror title, tasking you with recovering batteries to power up your uncle's shop while avoiding the giant demonic bowl of ramen… Tasty Ramen is incredibly stylised and a wonderful game visually. Not only utilising the low-poly style PS1 games are known for but also incredibly bright and pleasant colours. While this isn’t the most terrifying game on the list by a mile, it absolutely delivers on charm. Not only does it look great, but it even has a very ‘90s-esque anime-style opening and ending, which were both utterly brilliant. While it’s an incredibly short and simple title, it really manages to be memorable through charm.
Heartworm is a classic Resident Evil styled horror game with a fixed camera and a very similar art style. Despite this, however, it focuses much more on the psychological elements of horror instead of the physical. You take the role of a woman named Sam, deeply traumatised by past events in her life and seemingly taking much more drastic action to try and resolve these problems than traditional solutions. While the gameplay in the demo is very bare-bones, focusing primarily on exploration, the full game will have combat and puzzles at the forefront.
The story of Heartworm is the perfect example of what this style can be used for, taking a deep look inside the mind of the protagonist. It’s a deep and mysterious plot, which slowly unravels throughout the game in a similar feeling way to Silent Hill 2. Heartworm is another smaller title, yet it does a fantastic job setting both the tone and the story for the upcoming full release. If you’re a fan of psychological horror, this is definitely one to look out for!
I sadly don’t have much to say about Dead Heat. Conceptually, it’s incredibly cool, being set in a post-zombie apocalypse New York, you can choose to play as one of two NYPD members, one of which is a zombie... It’s another fixed cam action-adventure title, taking huge inspiration from the noir styling of media. Despite all of this, however, the controls aren’t the most responsive. I regularly saw weird clipping and visual bugs due to a relatively poorly implemented camera, and many key items are difficult to see. There is a massive lack of direction and any sort of tutorial, which makes it a difficult play. Admittedly, the build in the Haunted Demo Disk is an early build, so many of these issues may be ironed out in future builds. Dead Heat is an interesting proof of concept which may grow into something truly special.
Effigy is definitely a disappointing end, but a hopeful one at that. This title is a Metroidvania FPS, yet the demo here is extremely bare-bones. From missing textures and very clunky controls and menus (and the fact that it states it’s a pre-alpha), it’s incredibly obvious how early this build is. It is incredibly difficult to navigate many of the areas, as most of the textures look incredibly similar, and the combat is also nothing particularly interesting. Guns feel flat, and enemies have very limited feedback. However, despite all my negativity, just looking at the upcoming full-release steam page easily cuts out many of these worries. The visuals look far more polished, and the weapons look like they’ve been given an incredible amount of care in their redesigns. Effigy is one to look out for, but I wouldn’t recommend this demo as it seems to barely reflect the final game.
This was one of the more interesting instalments of this series to write, as the variety within the games was much bigger, along with some incredibly fun and interesting titles.