My last two articles on short, free, low-poly horror games published in August and September. And now the finale is publishing in November, meaning I completely missed the correct month for spooky articles. Oh well! Even if it’s a bit out-of-season, I think you’ll still enjoy these bite-sized tidbits of terror:
1. The Whitetail Incident
The Whitetail Incident was definitely my favorite game to play on this list. Not the least of which because you get a shotgun! The player character is a ranger searching for a coworker who went missing while responding to a camper’s SOS. Accompanying you is a loyal hound who’s more than willing to face any forest dangers. The dog’s AI is simplistic but reliable and unintrusive, perfect considering the scope of the project. Things get perilous, fast, and it’s great you have a four-legged friend on your side. Lastly, this game rendered a really immersive woodland. I wish I’d known about it when I covered a week of dark spooky forests, because this game would have been a shoe-in.
Yup, this list has a lighthouse-oriented game as well! And just like last time, it’s the most atmospheric experience in this roster. Undercurrent starts you off stranded in a lifeboat, but you quickly wash ashore a mysterious island. The environmental ambiance is entrancing; waves crash against the rocks, spray pelts your face, and lanterns cast rippling shadows in the wind. The story kept surprising me and there are some amazing setpieces, like an undersea glass tunnel. By the end I was really invested in the player character’s survival. Don’t miss this one!
Lure is far and away the shortest game on this list, but still worth experiencing. The protagonist accepts an old man’s offer to earn a quick buck illegally fishing at an abandoned temple. What could possibly go wrong? Like the last game, Lure excels in ambiance while also throwing in some fishing/dialogue mechanics. I replayed it a few times to ensure I’d seen everything the game had to offer.
4. The Dish is Out
The Dish is Out stars the unluckiest bastard, I swear to god. You control a character stationed at a remote Arctic outpost whose radar dish stops transmitting. This forces you to bundle up and brave a midnight blizzard to go get it restarted. Needless to say, things get a lot worse as the night goes on. This game’s greatest strength is pacing, and also introducing a darkness-induced navigation element that keeps you on your toes. Much like Perennial, your limited visibility means the map is constantly surprising you with new sights.
5. Employee of the Month
Employee of the Month really surprised me on a number of levels. Your boss calls you late at night asking if you’ll cover the graveyard shift, and things quickly get worse. EotM excels in set design, monster behavior, and lighting effects. The map is fun to explore, there are puzzles and secrets… This probably feels like the most complete game on this list. Which is ironic considering it’s technically a demo for an in-development title! Nevertheless I’m sure you’ll find it a satisfying experience if you give it a shot.
Bonus #6. Overtime
Overtime was a runner-up title that didn’t make the list because, like EotM, it’s a demo. And this time it actually feels like one. You’re an office worker in a soulless cubicle farm trying to juggle meetings, assignments, and crippling boredom. And if you play through the main storyline, you’ll finish all that extremely fast. To get the most out of your experience, you need to go talk to coworkers, complete optional quests, and explore the map. There’s a lot of content to be found, you just have to seek it out. I’m really excited for when the full game releases, the demo is extremely promising and worth a look.
Bonus #7. The Dead Mines
And finally, this game didn’t make the list cause I thought it’d be a conflict of interest. The Dead Mines, as the name suggests, takes place in abandoned underground caverns. Toxic fumes are poisoning the people who live above the mine, and you are sent into the depths to try and solve the problem. I recommend this game because I’m in it! The devs are my friends, and they asked me to voice-act the main character. In my biased opinion, this game does a great job with particle and lighting effects. The toxic green clouds cast eerie shadows across the rocky interiors, and each floor has a different unique challenge within.
If any of these titles piqued your interest, go download them! Nothing’s stopping you, they’re all free. And after that, go follow HauntedPS1 on Twitter and Itch. It’s a yearly challenge full of these sort of releases, and most of the games in this article series were created as part of it. I’d never realized just how well ‘low-poly’ and ‘horror’ went together, and now we’re downright spoiled for content in this burgeoning genre!