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World of Horror (Switch) Review

by Joe DeVader - January 7, 2024, 12:58 pm EST
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This hole was made for me, but was it made for the Switch as well?

In 1987, the Japanese shoujo magazine Monthly Halloween began publishing a manga titled “Tomie,” the story of a beautiful young woman who couldn’t help but charm and seduce just about any man who crossed her path, with the story always ending with her brutal murder at the hands of those men. This was the first published work of the author Junji Ito, who would go on to become a legend in the horror genre with stories like Uzumaki and The Enigma of Amigara Fault. However, no piece of art that I have ever seen has worn its Ito inspiration on its sleeve as much as World of Horror, a roguelike horror RPG from Panstasz, a solo developer based in Poland. Originally released as a Steam/PC early access title in 2019, it finally saw a console release in October of 2023, which begs the question how well the game translates to not being played with a mouse.

In World of Horror, you play as a resident of Shiokawa, Japan some time in the 1980s. Things have gotten very weird in Shiokawa, with masked cultists and strange creatures becoming common sights, and normal everyday people are beginning to go mad. An old god is waking up, and the local lighthouse appears to be the epicenter of its awakening. In order to try and stop it, the player must solve a selection of five mysteries both around town and in the surrounding area. These mysteries take the form of something akin to a visual novel mixed with an adventure game, as the player selects options from a menu to move the mystery forward. The way each mystery is structured differs slightly, with some based around progression by investigating a specific area and others using a time slot system where each action pushes the clock forward. Once all five mysteries have been successfully survived and solved–with each mystery containing multiple endings to collect for completionists–the journey to the top of the lighthouse can begin. If the player survives that, they have successfully completed a run.

While investigating, the player will experience various events and encounters. A lot of these will usually feature a scenario that requires you to make a choice, which serve as skill checks against your various stats such as luck, charisma, strength, or perception. These base stats are different depending on which of the playable characters you are using during your run, and you can later augment them using various items and equipment that can be bought or found as you go, or by leveling up and selecting certain perks. Failing these skill checks will have a negative effect on your character, whether it be an injury or a status effect that will affect your run from there on or, more likely, a loss of health. There are two types of health in World of Horror: stamina (representing your physical health) and reason (representing your mental state). If either of these fall below zero, your character will die at the start of their next combat encounter, but you have a chance until then to bring that health back up to safe levels, be it through item use, taking a bath at your apartment between mysteries, or getting lucky with some events. One of my personal major problems with the game is that regardless of stat levels, RNG almost always felt heavily stacked against me in a way that could sometimes make the gameplay frustrating. If a game based entirely around virtual dice rolls is something you lack the patience for, World of Horror is probably not for you.

Combat encounters are relatively simple in terms of mechanics, though they might not look like it at first glance. Before each turn in combat, the player can arrange certain actions along a timeline for their character to perform during the coming turn, be it to attack, use a weapon, dodge, etc. Each action takes up a certain number of seconds on the timeline, and once their turn is planned out, the player then hits the “launch sequence” button and the combat round begins; rinse and repeat until the enemy is dead. Different enemies do different kinds of damage with their attacks–some only take away from your stamina, some only take away your reason, some take both, and some increase the Doom meter (a bar that is filled by performing certain actions; if it reaches 100% your run is failed). When I say it might not look as simple as it is at first glance, this is actually reflective of my other major issue with World of Horror: the interface is extremely overwhelming when you first see it, whether it be the interface for combat or just for character management. There are a lot of tabs and windows and such cluttering up the UI, and while all of this information is important and much more manageable once you’ve gotten the hang of it, I would not fault a new player for experiencing information overload at first glance.

Aside from some issues with RNG and UI clutter, World of Horror pulls off everything else it’s trying to accomplish with flying colors, especially when it comes to aesthetics. The art is spot on in its reverence to the Junji Ito works that inspired it, and the soundtrack matches the game’s 1-bit graphics with a collection of fantastic 8-bit style jams, all of which come together to create a visual experience you’re not likely to get anywhere else. I was also pleasantly surprised at how well the game’s interface can be navigated using a gamepad as opposed to a mouse, though if you still prefer using a mouse cursor that is also an option built in as well. I’m not sure I would overall recommend the Switch version over the PC version of the game, but if portability is a big factor for you (an aspect this game lends itself to very well), then the Switch is a perfectly acceptable platform for stopping an old god from engulfing this sleepy Japanese town in madness.


  • Controlling with a gamepad is not as clunky as I thought it would be
  • Great 8-bit style soundtrack
  • Nails the aesthetic of Junji Ito’s work in a 1-bit art style
  • Interface can be rather overwhelming for new players
  • RNG can be very frustrating
  • What do the old gods have against baths?

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Genre Adventure

Worldwide Releases

na: World of Horror
Release Oct 26, 2023

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