“Something strange is happening in our town. Robed figures gathering in the woods by night, people disappearing, disgusting creatures terrorizing the seaside. Old Gods, Eldritch beings who ruled the earth eons ago, are waking up again as reality starts to crumble…” Thus begins the demo for World of Horror, an upcoming role-playing horror game that takes cues from the likes of H.P. Lovecraft and Junji Ito to tell a story of five teenagers in ’80s Japan solving small supernatural mysteries to try and postpone the inevitable coming of the terrible Old Gods. It’s a strange, strange game that calls back to early PC adventure games and tabletop role-playing, full of random encounters, strange monsters, and lots and lots of terrible ways for your protagonist to meet their end. It’s the sort of premise that instantly catches my eye, and naturally, I had to know more.
So I gave the publicly available demo a whirl, and despite the fact that it’s heavily outdated by now, it still plays like a dream. Giving you control of three different characters in three different stories, the World of Horror demo sets the stage for the content to come with bite-sized, turn-based investigations into the good old-fashioned "small town ceremony" type of cosmic horror, along with two smaller-scale ones based on actual Japanese urban legends (Kuchisake-onna and Aka Manto). And they’re good. Really good. So good that even after playing through each of them multiple times, I needed more. So I reached out to the game’s developer, the Polish one-man team Panstasz (aka Paweł), for a short discussion about cosmic horror, retro graphics, and building your own horror aesthetic.

What was it that first inspired you to make World of Horror?

Paweł: I enjoy board games and card games—it was a natural progression of things for me to try to make my own. As playtesting and constantly printing new versions of the cards became too tiresome, I decided to port everything and make a PC game out of it. The simple card game started evolving and growing into [the] World of Horror that you can now test yourself.

World of Horror frames the heroes’ quest as postponing the inevitable, not saving the world. Why is this distinction important?

Paweł: It's the fear of insignificance, prevalent in H.P. Lovecraft's works which are a huge source of inspiration for [World of Horror]. It's a timeless fear, still relevant in the modern world.

What’s the appeal of cosmic horror to you?

Paweł: I find the concept of cosmic beings treating humans the way we deal with insects, without any consideration really, incredibly horrifying, but also fascinating and inspiring.

The visuals in World of Horror harken back to old Apple II adventure games, with chunky 1-bit pixel art in stark black and white. We don’t see a lot of throwbacks to this era in retro gaming. What made you choose this particular style?

Paweł:World of Horror was a passion hobby project for me. I've found that tool limitations and [the] required level of precision was really relaxing for me after stresses of my daily job. I hope we will see more Macintosh-inspired projects in the future, for its charm really is unique and worth saving and expanding upon.

It's clear you have a real deep appreciation of Japanese horror not just limited to Junji Ito, with some screenshots and trailer footage even calling to mind obscurities like the needle in the eye finale of Guinea Pig: The Devil's Experiment and one of the Old Gods is even the titular villain from the shot-on-video gem Guzoo: The Thing Forsaken by God—and this isn’t even touching on all the urban legends. How do you meld all these unique influences into your own aesthetic?

Paweł: I think the reason all these influences work together is because of their scale. Although the threat is definitely cosmic in origin and gargantuan, I'm trying to keep horror more personal and low-scale. Weird, seemingly unconnected events all happening in a really unlucky town—it's easier to imagine ourselves in their place, and that could be the key to keeping all different sources, legends, and horrors together.

What was your first brush with J-horror?

Paweł: Probably [the] original Ringu from 1998 when I was just a kid. This movie still holds a special place in my heart and helped define the genre.

Finally, what horror works would you recommend people to check out before World of Horror releases next year?

Paweł: [The] found-footage [film] called Noroi: The Curse is definitely a must-watch for anyone into J-horror or the found footage genre. I rewatch it every year and I can't praise it enough!

World of Horror is slated to release in 2019 for the PC, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch. To learn more, visit