I’ve been tasting the games on the magnificent Haunted PS1 Demo Disc 2020 since I saw a stray tweet about it late last week. There are 17 titles on the “CD,” styled — down to the menu system — on mid 90s PlayStation (and Saturn!) games of a particular mood: weird, macabre, sinewy and spooky.
All of them feature the chunky pixels of the 32-bit era, some with the moody lighting and tank-y controls of a survival horror masterpiece (like an early Silent Hill or Resident Evil), while others borrow more from a Doom or Quake palette. Still others borrow elements of the aesthetic, but offer something entirely different.
The collection, as an entity, is incredible. But the only game I’ve played to completion so far is Colorfiction’s Ode to a Moon, a sort of psychedelic adventure much in the vein of Paratopic — itself an awesome shortform horror game that traded on surreal imagery and jump cuts. You start off in a murky apartment, after receiving a briefing about something not quite right at an Autumn Festival upstate. The scenery shifts and you get a feel for the light puzzles, moving the story forward by interacting with the right elements.
But things get weirder and weirder and harder to explain as you move forward. The environments become more maze-like and less readable until you are fumbling around in tunnels of darkness and psychedelic color, looking for cues.
I’m not always a fan of semi-aimless wandering but something kept me experimenting and pushing forward until the end. The color choices and sound effects and subtle changes present an oddly gorgeous atmosphere. And there’s a sense — always — that this will be worth it, and it is.
This is just a demo, as Colorfiction’s page proclaims. There’s more of this strange substance to come, and I’m excited to see how it shapes up.
It pretty much goes without saying that all of this is extremely my shit, but I’d recommend that anyone give the Haunted PS1 Demo Disc 2020 a shot. It’s free, easily available, and, if nothing else, sports this incredible trailer that feels like it came straight out of Kentia Hall in 1996.