Noted indie horror game creator Kitty Horrorshow has released a new, free collection of horror games, and they make for a disturbing time.
Haunted Cities Vol. 3 is a collection of games emerging from behind the paywall of Horrorshow's Patreon, and if you're familiar with her previous games such as Anatomy and CHYRZA, then you know that you're in for dreamlike spaces shaped like nightmares and with truly unsettling stories.
The four short games that make up Vol. 3 are all pretty different, but they each offer something unique and special. As someone who has been following Horrorshow's work for years now, I can say that they're each interesting experiments in horror that are big jumps from what she's done before.
Before these short write ups, it is also worth noting that Horrorshow includes content warning for each of these games in the general readme file for Haunted Cities Vol. 3, and you should probably look at those before playing.
Ghost Lake is perhaps the most immediately accessible game in Vol. 3. The player walks around an abandoned city where the textures on the building warp and shift as you pass by them. A green orb demands that you take a leisurely drive around this world, and it reveals massive structures, towering rotting structures, and the absolute decay of the world.
Driving the car also really reminded me of the "Karma Police" music video, and I would be lying if I said that I didn't keep turning around to see if there was someone behind me.
Seven Days is a domestic horror game in the style that Horrorshow is known for, but I also found it to be the most opaque of the four games included in the collection. I had a hard time figuring out how to make the game progress, but the narrative sections I did see about an eerie environmental effect made me wish I could have figured out more. Maybe you'll have better luck than I did.
Basements is a raw, extreme kind of short game that repeatedly slams that player over the head with warping images, blinking lights, and shifting architecture. After navigating through that, it tells some truly bleak stories about nature and humanity and the absolute trauma of loss. It's a hard game to get through, but it's also fairly rewarding.
My favourite game of Haunted Cities Vol. 3 is Castle Wormclot, which puts you in third-person control of a candlekeeper who has to travel the floating islands and pathways that surround a giant, dark castle so that they can light all the candelabras.
The work itself is quite boring, but this is a game that is all about the journey, and you meet all of these funny and sad characters who mourn and celebrate the fact that their lives never seem to change very much. The whole game has a sarcastic tone that I really appreciate, and the writing is genuinely pleasant. I lit all of the candles, and I rewarded for doing so!
There's something for all of your horror moods in Haunted Cities Vol. 3, and it is an amazing thing to download and sample in the Halloween season, especially since it is free. Be ready to get scared and bothered, but also make sure you read the readme so that you know how to control each game.