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C.H.A.I.N. stitches 20 games into one horrific free collection

Halloween’s over. The pumpkins are packed away, the witches hats back in the wardrobe, but that doesn’t mean the scares should end, right? This weekend, the indie spooksters working under the Haunted PS1 movement released their latest compilation, C.H.A.I.N. – a compilation of 20 wildly varied haunt ’em ups from over 20 developers, Frankenstein’d together for free into a single winding narrative anthology.

Curated by the co-creator of last year’s brilliant, short pseudo-deathmatch No Players Online, C.H.A.I.N’s wallet full of bite-sized horror shorts is free to check out over on Itch.io.

The premise of C.H.A.I.N (or Chronological Haunted Anomalous Interconnected Narrative) then, is in asking 20 developers to create 20 games with a single narrative throughline. The catch? At no point were they allowed to communicate with each other. Instead, the compilation was pieced together over half a year, exquisite-corpse style – each game developed in turn by following up on the one that came before.

Not that you’d even tell if you were flicking through the games at random. Each is wildly different in form and theme, pitch-black first-person labyrinths next to trippy platforming descents, with a horror twist on bloody Super Monkey Ball arriving completely out of leftfield.

Pay attention, though, and there’s a thin connective thread running through each game. An NPC in Ms Blanch becomes the protagonist of The Participants, as places and plot threads stretch between genre and mood with each entry. There’s an entire arc where you see a creature form from an egg-like tumour, slowly growing until you take control of the birthed, Xenomorph-like beast in Organ Of Eden – slashing scientists as you skitter back through the lab.

Each game is short, too, lasting maybe five or ten minutes. They’re all framed within a delightful kind of CD wallet I haven’t seen since I was wee – between this and the Haunted PS1 Demo Disk, the collective have established themselves as the last masters of slick frontends for game compilations.

Disclosure: Jazz Mickle, one of the many contributors to C.H.A.I.N, is a pal.

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Natalie Clayton

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