Somewhere, deep in the darkest recesses of the Uncanny Valley lies a strange, jagged sinkhole. Nobody knows how deep it goes, or even if it has a bottom to reach, merely that its pixellated walls seem to vibrate and shimmer as you move around them. Welcome to the PlayStation Zone. the Spooky Retro Bundle 2 on Itch is a collection of seven (mostly) PSX-styled games that channel the spirit of this particularly unsettling era in 3D graphics into something deliberately unnerving. Below, trailers for the bundled games, plus some additional scares to start your weekend with.
Top billing in this bundle goes to OK/NORMAL, previously covered here. Starting out feeling like a threadbare yet authentic early PlayStation game, it comes apart at the seams, becoming increasingly hostile both to look at and experience. While developer 98demake has produced a whole channel's worth of excellent (and usually funny) videos depicting modern hit games as early PSX titles, their most recent production - September 1999, free on Steam - is a more technically advanced slice of fear. It's only five minutes long, so try it. Then make sure your doors are locked.
While more DOS or early microcomputer-themed than PSX and so feeling a little bit of a cheat to include in this bundle, Faith by Airdorf is also well worth playing. The priesthood are investigating an abandoned house at the centre of reports of demonic possession and satanic skulduggery. Hogwash, obviously, but you might want to remember your best warding prayers nonetheless. There's a sequel in development with a demo available now, too.
The rest of the bundle I'm less familiar with, but it's fun looking stuff. There's the brilliantly named stealth-action-horror Night Of The Nun... aka Nun Massacre by Puppet Combo, a developer specialising in grungy 80s horror and PSX-ish aesthetics. Dead End Road by DDD Wares combines the inherent terror of driving through strange roads on a rainy night, combined with low-fi 3D stylings and some VHS filters. Helltown by WildArts is a little higher resolution, but uses the extra pixels to portray a quaint, bright little town before its descent into demon-infested chaos.
While Dan Sanderson's First Winter looks a little more like PSX FMV than anything (a look all of its own, easily replicated in real-time nowadays), it does tell a story with a grain of authentic 80s fear. A nuclear submarine is detected not far from Los Angeles, and your own weird reality-shifting experience seems related to the errant and potentially world-ending vessel. Lastly in the bundle, Modus Interactive's Sanguine Sanctum is a short game of exploration through dreamlike (and nightmarish) retro worlds in search of offerings for a powerful, hungry entity.
There's plenty more folks doing scary things with warped polygons and blurry video outputs beyond this bundle. Anyone wanting a a good slow-burn spookin' should switch the lights out and check out Petscop tonight, a totally normal Let's Play video series looking at a completely real, normal and not-at-all haunted PlayStation game. I've even embedded the first episode below, because I'm so nice. Just don't go googling for videos explaining the series - there's plenty of them, and they're less spooky, more tedious. It would be remiss of me to not mention Paratopic either.
You can find The Spooky Retro Bundle 2 on Itch here. It costs $14.95, and is available for just 51 hours more at the time of writing. I wish you all a good night, and very spine-chilling weekend.