World of Horror is borne of strange circumstances, which might explain why the game itself is so unsettling. It plays out in five short stories set in a seaside village in 1980s Japan, whose residents are falling into mass madness while eldritch monsters rise from the seas. Eerie chiptune music plays throughout the game, frantic and propelling. People have gone missing, festering demons are walking the streets, and sushi chefs are serving omakase with human eyeballs on the platter.
Fight scenes are turn-based, forcing you to stare down your fears and face slaughter one move at a time. It’s your job to investigate, stay sane and complete all five segments before the world is consumed by this otherworldly horror — or before the twitchy scissor demon stabs you to death. Whichever comes first.
This rich world of terror is presented in 1-bit black-and-white scenes, as if a HyperCard application had a wriggling, six-legged baby with horror-manga legend Junji Ito’s complete anthology. Most developers create their games using tailor-made animation programs and game engine software, but Kozminski is doing all of his work in Paint, specifically because it’s a crappier program.
“Creating art in Paint is actually really inspiring and somehow relaxing,” Kozminski said. “The limits of the program really force you to get creative with it, which is a huge thing. I guess 1-bit black-and-white art is the closest I can get to simulate that comic book feel, too.”
Kozminski discovered Ito through one of his most celebrated works, the short story The Enigma of Amigara Fault. Kozminski randomly stumbled across a scanlation (a fan-uploaded manga scan) of The Enigma of Amigara Fault years ago, and the final panel was seared into his memory, featuring a grotesque, formerly-human creature emerging from thin cracks in a mountain, groaning, “DRR… DRR… DRR.”
Kozminski’s obsession with horror has more classical roots, as well. Back in 2004, when he was a teenager, he read Top Ten Horror Stories by Michael Cox, an anthology of age-appropriate versions of classic tales like The Pit and the Pendulum, The Hound of Baskervilles and Frankenstein. This was how he discovered HP Lovecraft, another clear influence on World of Horror, which sees the hideous rise of the Old Gods.