Halloween may have been and gone, but there were so many spooky treats that we didn't have time to savour them all. If you haven't yet had your fill of fright based fun then Kitty Horrorshow has you covered. She's released a free collection of four short, experimental games, all of which have one foot/tentacle planted firmly in the surreal. Kitty's been making games of a similar ilk for over 5 years now, such as Anatomy, Chyrza and Dust City, so she knows her stuff.
Each game was previously released as a reward for funding Kitty on Patreon, and - like the previous edition of Haunted Cities - the collection acts as an advertisement for that Patreon. Contributing $5 a month will net you every game that Kitty makes in the future as they get released. Here's an interview with her from last year, where she talks about how she started making games and her creative process.
“I either have an idea in my head for a story that I want to tell and the idea itself might be something very simple, very basic, just like a sentence, or a phrase that just occurred to me and that I want to expand on, or alternatively I will start with an idea for just a place that I want to create, like an actual, explorable space. And then the story sort of populates it later.”
I've only tried 'Scarlet Bough' so far, which certainly speaks to that design philosophy. It sets you wandering around a washed out, uninhabited little town where gristly surprises await inside each building - though they aren't meant to be jump scares. For the most part, the game is content to let the tension build through a creepy soundtrack and occasional notes that you find lying around with Lovecraftian overtones. There are other neat moments of environmental storytelling, too - at one point I passed an unenterable room with blood leaking under the door and a chair shoved underneath the handle. The scarcity of actual jump scares makes the few that Scarlet Bough does include all the more effective.
You can find the latest Haunted Cities collection, alongside Kitty's other games, on her Itch.io page.