I spent a few hours yesterday thinking about short horror games, partly thanks to Resident Evil 7’s creepy demo and partly because that’s the kind of thing my brain turns to on a Monday morning. The Resi teaser uses a VHS tape in one important segment, beautifully reproducing the quality, without overdoing visual noise and other flaws. I’d love to see that VHS aesthetic expanded in the full game, as well as the use of found footage as an interactive tool.
It was only when I’d finished writing that I remembered ANATOMY [official site], Kitty Horrorshow’s deeply unsettling game that you might have missed earlier this year. If you’re at all interested in weird takes on haunted houses, you really should play it.
We did cover ANATOMY back in February and I agree with just about everything Melody wrote back then. It’s a game that plays with perception, so that you’re not as much scared of the things that you see as the way in which you’re seeing them. Ordinary spaces become deeply uncomfortable, reminding me of the hundreds of times that my own house has seemed like a warren of dark corners and hidden things.
If I had to summarise what it is that unsettles me in ANATOMY, I’d say it’s the fear of the familiar, which is one in the eye for that Lovecraft quote about “fear of the unknown”. If you’ve ever been startled by the shadow of your own furniture in the dead of night, or by awareness of your heart beating when everything else is silent and still, ANATOMY will probably get right under your skin.
It’s structurally clever as well. Short but intended for multiple playthroughs, not because you can make different choices but because things will change from one to the next. You have complete control – and yet you’ll spend most of your time creeping around the edges of rooms – but you’re not in control.