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Tamashii is an aggressively unsettling horror platformer

Horror is a genre I appreciate, but seldom gets under my skin the way it does for others. Tamashii, despite being a relatively simple-looking puzzle platformer, jangles my nerves like a dozen spiders crawling across my face. Released today and developed by Vikintor, I’ve had my eye on this one for a while after seeing some early footage on Twitter.  The game has detailed, twisted sprites combined with some aggressive VHS-like and glitch effects that just makes my skin crawl, even if at its heart, it’s not too unusual as a game. Take a peek at the launch trailer below.

Tamashii reminds me a bit of the digital body-horror nightmares of artist Sekitani Norihino, as seen in this INCREDIBLY UN-HUMAN-MIND SAFE MUSIC VIDEO. Of course, Tamashii doesn’t have a screaming grindcore track and a thousand flashing lights. Instead, it plays things straight, for the most part – stark, near-monochrome graphics, with the really wild effects and monster designs deployed for when things get heavy. It’s a thrilling way to portray supernatural ‘corruption’, warping both the image itself but putting the sprites themselves through a lurid, fleshy blender.

Vikintor’s previous outing was the free Ritualistic Madness, a first-person maze game inspired by something I only just recently learnt of. Did you know that among the ill-fated Virtual Boy’s tiny library was a Japanese-only lovecraftian horror maze FPS called Innsmouth No Yakata? You can see a little of it on YouTube here. Eldritch horror in glorious blood red, beamed straight into your eyeballs – easily the most cursed thing on the system. Ritualistic Madness bills itself as a port of a lost, even more cursed little maze-crawler with a similar aesthetic.

There’s this general public perception that Japanese horror is quieter and more subtle than its western counterpart, but there’s this particular strain that I’ve always loved. The kind that plays it quiet, subtle up until the moment it explodes into a riot of body-horror noise and weirdness that you instinctively recoil from, before snapping back to normality just as fast. It’s a style that I just don’t see often enough in games for my liking. More of this kind of thing, and thanks to Vikintor for being inspired so much by it.

Tamashii is out now on Itch for $4, with a Steam release planned. Ritualistic Madness is here and free, or whatever you want to pay.

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Dominic Tarason

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