Frequent Itch.io shoppers will have noticed the store's gotten rather spooky of late. In the last year, it's become near-impossible to move for all the retro-styled spookers - lo-fi horror games with few polygons and even fewer pixels. That's largely down to the devils at The Haunted PS1, a community of indie necromancers fiendishly resurrecting the aesthetics of early PlayStation scares. Now, they're reviving another long-dead format - free demos.
This Thursday, the group will bring 17 scares to life with The Haunted PS1 Demo Disk, a free collection of 17 short, terrifying indie horror games.
Okay, so it's not an actual, physical disk. Put away your dusty old consoles and emulators. Contained within a unified executable, The Haunted PS1 Demo Disk includes 17 short, bespoke slices of the community's work, letting you sample some horror before putting money down.
Hey everyone, good news! We've set a release date for the Demo Disc and the list of demos is decided.
— HauntedPS1 (@HauntedPs1) January 30, 2020
Some of these, like Modus Interactive's surrealist cat nightmare Neko Yume 猫夢 (via Itch.io) are already out in full. But for many more, this'll be their first time in the stark light of day. I'm particularly anxious to see what the hell lies behind Tasty Ramen, and its uncomfortably compressed noodle soup jpeg.
I've had my eyes on Haunted PS1 for some time, and was even personally called-out by last year's fantastic server-browser spooker No Players Online. It's a style I adore, going back to the likes of Paratopic and Kitty Horrorshow's entire catalogue using bold strokes to paint a deep sense of unease in the player's mind. I even tried bashing out an industrial horror engine of my own for last summer's industrial horror jam.
Unfortunately, little nuisances like "work" and "life" and "working out how to make an interesting video game" got in the way. Ah, maybe next time.
Lurking in the Haunted PS1 Discord, a lot of work goes into making something look so convincingly dated. Many go beyond slapping a simple pixel filter on Unity, emulating the PlayStation's signature vertex wobble, lighting quirks and limited colour space. That faithfulness extends to the Demo Disk itself, which has gotten its own period-appropriate front-end.
Every game featured will eventually have a full, paid release to move onto. The Demo Disk will release for free over on The Haunted PS1's Itch.io page next Thursday, February 6th.