Appearance: The Obelisk is a cryptic and disturbing being, hidden in the silent depth of an abandoned shopping mall. After passing through lifeless mannequins, the Obelisk will be there, standing in the middle of the basement. The creature is a sort of massive tower made of clothes, specifically white man shirts, melted together in this structure. The Obelisk is a towering object, not clear if it is a living being or an investigable object. However, after interacting with it, the player can decide to attack the creature. But is this a wise decision?
Background: The Irrational Obelisk is a mysterious being breaking the conventional rules of the game. Hidden in the depth of an abandoned mall, surrounded by motionless creepy mannequins, the Obelisk apparently serves no purpose. It doesn’t provide a quest, dialogue, or any form of interaction. The player can indeed try to talk with the Obelisk, asking about its meaning, but the Obelisk will never reply. However, it can be attacked. But even the battle is a complete mystery. The Obelisk attacks only by draining your mind, bringing the characters on the edge of insanity, without having a direct way of harming them. And interestingly, by doing this, the Obelisk can inflict every phobia in the game. Strangely enough, the party can damage the Obelisk with anything, but it doesn’t show a direct weakness or susceptibility to status effects. The problem? The Obelisk doesn’t seem to die, no matter how many turns you attack it, or how close you are to becoming insane. It will simply stand there draining your mind. However, rumors say that the Obelisk can be killed, but with the insane amount of HPs (probably 999,999 HP), it will probably take hours. And who knows if the reward is truly worthy.
The Irrational Obelisk is the representation of how insane some quests can be, and how sometimes a battle is simply pointless. Fear & Hunger already deconstructed the genre before, for example with the Human Hydra (check more in my analysis HERE). But, while in that case, it was more related to the quest-effort/reward dichotomy, in this case, is more battle-effort/reward. And as the name suggested, the Obelisk is an irrational battle, so why even try to fight this being? Regarding the influences of the creature, in a recent interview here with the developer, Miro, he clearly stated how the Obelisk was influenced by a piece of modern art that he once saw in Finland. Moreover, the creator has an “irrational phobia for buttoned shirts”, and this being is clearly the embodiment of such fear. Here is the link to the interview, in case you didn’t check it: The darkest secrets of Fear & Hunger 2 Termina: second interview with the creator Miro Haverinen. Outside of RPG rules, the Irrational Obelisk is also a monolith to the irrational phobias, which drive away your sanity no matter how long you fight them. No matter how irrational, huge, or cryptic the phobias are, fighting against them is always a colossal effort.
Fear & Hunger has a complex Pantheon of gods, specifically divided into Old and New. While the New Gods are humans ascended to divinity, the Old Ones are ancient twisted and macabre beings, mysterious creatures born at the beginning of time. Usually, the Old Gods are described and portrayed in books scattered around the dark dungeons, manuscripts probably wrote by cultists trying to assign a physical form to their deities, even if this is often far from the God’s true form. At least 5 Old Gods are described in the books, starting with Alllmer, a sort of twisted revisited version of Jesus Christ, to the hermetic Moon God, which has a relevant role in the sequel of Fear & Hunger. However, two Old Gods appear as hidden boss battles in the original game, offering brutal and challenging fights.
Gro-goroth is also known as the God of Destruction, a dangerous and malevolent entity connected with death and carnages. The Old God lies beneath the most difficult dungeon of the game, deep inside the mouth of a gigantic monster, after passing deadly traps and monsters. Moreover, Gro-goroth can be faced only by going for the Ending B, meaning that a party member, the Girl, should be dead (if you want an idea of all the horrible things that can happen to this party member, check my article: Fear & Hunger: the many ways to permanently sacrifice the Girl [Evil Quests]). Gro-goroth will emerge from the darkness below a platform entirely made of dead bodies, ready to fight the party after an existentialist conversation. Only the upper half of the gigantic creature is visible, a muscled torso made of twisted flesh, grotesque organs, wings, and gigantic stone-like claws. Gro-goroth is a visual cacophony of flesh, even having a mouth opening in the middle of its chest, or sort of beak-like elements decorating its neck. The face somehow keeps a sparkle of humanity, a pale mask similar to a marble statue.
As expected from an end-game boss fight, the enemy is a devastating force of destruction. The gigantic god has multiple attacks, caused by different limbs and organs. The sharp claws are its main weapon, able to inflict tremendous damage, including the bleeding effect. Taking this into account, cutting-off the claws is a vital strategy to facilitate the fight. But this is not all, multiple eyes can emerge from the flesh of its body, creating additional enemies. The eyes will cry out a scorching liquid on top of the party, causing moderate damage and the burning effect. Up to 5 eyes can open in its body and, even if they have few HP, not taking action against them could cause a swarming of damages and effects in each turn.
If this is not enough, Gro-goroth also knows powerful spells, such as Burning Gaze or the mysterious Whisper of Gro-goroth. The second enchantment is particularly peculiar: it will mark a party member with a countdown and, when it will reach 0, that character will instantly die. After all, Gro-goroth is the god of death and destruction for a reason.
The second Old God was added to the game in one of the last updates. While going for ending C, the player will now reach an empty and dark wasteland, a sort of abyss out of time and space. In this extreme environment, the main character should find again the other party members while avoiding deadly and dangerous hunting creatures. But it is on a stone bridge suspended above a green light that the party will face Sylvian, the god of sex and fertility. If Gro-goroth was very similar to the images inside the unholy manuscripts, Sylvian is drastically different. The books portray her as a humanoid goddess with the body covered in breasts, a fitting representation for the god of fertility.
Sylvian is honoured with orgies from her followers, worshipped as carnal and universal love. However, Sylvian’s love for mankind got twisted during the ages, becoming a sick parody of sex, passion, and love. For example, people marrying in honour of Sylvian will be blessed with an abominable marriage, meaning that their bodies will be fused together in a grotesque mass of flesh. This is also reflected in the true form of Sylvian: a grotesque mass of green flesh and tentacles surrounding a half-exposed ribcage, with pointed breasts and a shark-like head.
The boss battle is probably the most difficult in the entire game. The god has an insane amount of HP and it can use some really dirty tricks. Each tentacle attacks individually causing different negative effects, such as stun or bleeding, but the bigger ones are the true danger, especially if they grab party members, basically trapping them in a suffocating hug. Sylvian can also strike the mind of the characters, complicating the life of spell-casters. Color of the Unknown is the most dangerous between these attacks since it will damage the minds of the entire party.
However, the most disturbing move is related to a sort of tumorigenic mass that will grow at each turn from the ribcage of the god. The attack is very similar to the one of another creature, Uterus (you can read about this monster here: Monster of the Week: Uterus (Fear & Hunger)), just this time it is even more dangerous. If not defeated on time, the mass will transform each turn into a more humanoid figure. The fully developed creature will add an extra layer of difficulty in the battle, with the possibility of completely murdering a character with one attack.
While other Old Gods are present in the game, such as the dead body of Alllmer, only Gro-goroth and Sylvian can be challenged and defeated in battle.
However, as expected from images and Demo, the Moon God, Rher, plays a central role in the sequel Fear & Hunger 2 Termina. The Moon God is very mysterious, hidden in plain sight from humanity and with ambiguous plans. It is also addressed as the Trickster God, described as jealous and incredibly resentful of humanity. On the other hand, in contraposition, Rher is also considered the God of Truth. In fact, people exposed to its “moonlight” mutate into their true selves… of course meaning mutating into grotesque and insane abominations. While common people go into a shared mutating path while “moonscorched,” as if this is a sort of supernatural disease, special people evolve into more dangerous and personalized monstrosities, often keeping a sparkle of their intellect.
As for the two previous Gods before, it is also possible to fight Rher in Termina. To face the God, the player should look for ending B, meaning to become the only candidate reaching the tower alive but still not considered worthy of the Rher’s attention. After defeating Per’kele, he will reveal that the god left this reality, leaving only a trace behind it. And still, as if pulled from a chain, a gigantic smiling moon will drop from the sky to crush the unworthy player. And this is where the battle against Rher begins.
Rher appears as a creepy gigantic face with holes as eyes and a skeleton-like mouth, surrounded by two rings full of eyes. The God is an insanely difficult battle, especially since the player must kill all the other potential party members to face it. So basically you can only fight it alone, or maximum with an evil goat, weak ghouls, and summons. And if this was not enough, Rher has a tremendous range of attacks. Its base attack, Moonscorched, is a column of light falling from the sky, a single-target high-damage attack. Two hits from this attack are enough to kill any character. Lunar Storm materializes a meteor shower from the sky, heavily damaging the entire party. Dreamscape is probably the most visually striking attack. Rher will briefly summon a warrior made of light, which will slash one target. The attack is not as damaging as Moomscorched, but this is not a relief since Dreamscape has a high chance of severing limbs.
However, the most complex side of the battle comes from the eyes surrounding Rher. The eyes attack after Rher using multiple times the All Seeing Eyes ability. In the beginning, these attacks look like a minor concern, only slightly damaging the Mind. But there is a powerful downside to this. When Mind reaches 0 against Rher, each turn there is a 50% chance of simply dying because your Mind cannot manage Rher’s vision. First, you will become blind. Then, you will only see indescribable horrors. In the end, the brain will simply melt.
So while avoiding powerful attacks, without a party, the player must also kill as many eyes as possible while managing their health and Mind to avoid instant death. This is what you call a secret super boss battle against an Old God.
If you want to see the complete battle against Rher, with a powerful set up, have a look at the following video on the Surreal and Creepy channel [Rher’s battle at 8:38]:
Fear & Hunger was, in part, the game that made me start this blog. And you can see the results in the many articles I wrote about it. A one-man-army project, Fear & Hunger is probably the grimiest and darkest RPG available, with a satisfying and brutal combat surrounded by a deep lore. Last December, the official sequel, Fear & Hunger 2 Termina got released, bringing the horror and despair in a more modern post-World War setting.
Between an evil moon, grotesque mutations, old and new gods, and a set of disturbing and deadly enemies, Termina brings back the essence of the first title and encases it in a more open world format. In fact, you have three days to join the Termina festival by murdering all the other characters, and each time you sleep and save, the time will dramatically advance. Exploring the town by learning routes and possibilities is essential to survive and understand the mechanics. There is a lot to learn and optimise, not only how to efficiently manage the save points, but also how to use the sigils of the gods to obtain powers and which possibilities are available at a specific times. Because the characters around you move with time, and it is impossible to see many events once day/time changes.
When the first Fear & Hunger was released, I had the possibility of asking questions to the creator, Miro Haverinen. Together with Miro we explored the secrets, lore, and references of Fear & Hunger. The interview is available at the following link, if you missed it:
Back then, it was the first interview posted here on Dark RPGs and now, with the release of Termina, talking again with Miro is like continuing a path. Because Miro Haverinen was kind enough to provide a “part 2” interview, this time completely focused on Termina. Together with Miro, we will analyse more the references, secrets, and curiosities of Fear & Hunger 2 Termina.
If you enjoyed the game and want to know about its future, or discover the secrets and curiosities behind some mysteries such as the Irrational Obelisk or the Iki Turso, have a look at the following interview.
Q1: Hi again Miro, and thanks for the possibility of asking again some curiosities about the expanding world of Fear & Hunger. Fear & Hunger 2 Termina released last month, bringing a new breeze of disturbing horror for RPG fans. The biggest surprise is probably the change in time, moving from dark middle-ages to post-WW2. Why did you decide to shift toward a more modern setting? Were there also other ideas before, including maybe a more directly-tight sequel?
A1: Hi! Glad to answer these questions again. It helps put things in perspective for me too.
As for the setting – I wanted to create something new. These games are pretty big commitments, it gets boring working with the same setting for years on straight. I also felt like there were lots of other dark medieval games around. The world didn’t really need another one. So a more directly-tied sequel was never in the books really.
I got the idea for the main ending of Termina pretty early on. I felt it was a logical direction for things to progress towards with the rules and themes of this universe in mind. The story idea played a big part in the decision for the setting. I first toyed around with even more modern setting that was lighter in tone, but felt it was too big of a departure, so I dialed things back and came up with the 40s setting. Although I approached the setting pretty liberally and it is far from an accurate depiction of the times. Much like how F&H1 is wildly inaccurate in its historical take, it’s more like a hodgepodge of multiple different centuries. Termina’s 40s is very similar in this regard. There are things in the game that would better suit a 1800s setting and things that would make more sense in 1960s-70s setting.
Q2: If this was hinted at in the first Fear & Hunger, it is now clear how the setting of Termina is an alternative version of our world, with connections and references to existing places and figures. And the perfect meeting point for these influences is Prehevil, the main city of Termina, a complex character of its own. How did you manage to combine the fictional and historical aspects of Termina to build Prehevil?
A2: The game was even more tied to real world history in the beginning of the development, but with each passing month the game universe drifted further and further away from historical events because it felt a bit constraining. I like how with this “strangereal”-like setting people can fill in the blanks in worldbuilding easily but there’s still plenty of room for the world to grow to any direction that benefits the overall story.
As for Prehevil, I wanted the city to have strong European feel in its architecture and the story benefitted from the city being in the middle of all these different coalitions, that’s why I ultimately settled into Prehevil being (very very) loosely based on Prague of Czech Republic. I was browsing through WW2-era photos for inspiration and something about Prague just appealed to me.
Q3: While Old Gods already appeared in the previous game, Rher, the Moon God, was always referenced on the side. But now everything changed, and Rher is the central element of Termina. Why did you decide to use the Moon God as core element of Termina? Which were the references and the ideas to build this god and integrate it into the gameplay?
A3: This delves into the in-universe lore a bit, but in many ways Rher always had the main antagonist role when it came to human progress and reaching new heights. Being the “Jealous Moon” that he is. The first game was mostly set in dark dungeons though. Not much moonlight reaches those depths, but this time it made more sense for the moon to follow the events more closely in broad daylight. I’ve just always been personally fascinated by the moon, I think that’s the main inspiration really. The real thing. I know many draw parallels to a certain Nintendo game with the words “Termina”, the moon and the 3-day time limit, but that game didn’t really play big role as far as inspirations go. The most significant influence Majora’s Mask had to Rher was that I was desperately trying to differentiate Rher’s design from the moon in Majora’s Mask. It’s not easy to design a moon with a face that doesn’t look similar.
Q4: Termina has a new and interesting mechanic based on sigils, which really expands player management during the game. However, Rher’s sigil is a very peculiar one, allowing the player to shift toward an alternate reality made of wood. As a fan of Silent Hill, and in general of parallel dimensions of pure pain, I am curious: which are the lore and the ideas behind building this reality? And why was wood the main element of this dimension?
A4: No comments on the lore reasons, sorry. I don’t like explaining the lore too much outside the game and this particular topic would reveal a lot of big things. The basic aesthetic of it came from some old drawings I had done years ago. I think I originally got that visual of crude wooden walls rising infinitely to darkness above from a dream of mine. My dreams played a big part with many visuals found in the game. The dinner with the mayor, the intro scene, the church, the mold apartment – they all came to me in different dreams. I guess dreams also play a big part in the lore too? Of course the parallel universe also takes strong influence from Silent Hill. No escaping that fact.
Q5: Termina really hits strong with the enemy design, between a horde of grotesque abominations and deadly maniacs. Which is your favourite enemy and why?
A5: I think I like the generic moonscorched enemies the most. Or the evolution they go through from enemy to enemy. Like you can see how moonscorching advances from first slightly distorting one’s features, to their skin peeling off revealing the innermost desires, to hardening of the exposed flesh, until that hardening growth takes over the whole body. It’s pretty interesting visually I think, but it also has interesting implications. The moon reveals the truth and all that.
Q6: Prehevil city hides many secrets, but one that I really couldn’t solve was the Irrational Obelisk. For those who don’t know, hidden inside a shop lies a tower made of clothes, apparently purposeless and impossible to kill. Can you give us some clues about the purpose of this mysterious being?
A6: That thing exists for real. How scary is that? I once saw it in a small art exhibition in Helsinki, Finland. It’s been years since that encounter though, so I probably don’t recall my meeting with that irrational being accurately. This is just my depiction of the events that went down. I’ve had irrational phobia for buttoned shirts too since I was a toddler. That probably played part in its creation too. When making something that’s trying to be horror, you have to go with your gut instincts. I find that stuff weird and eerie.
Q7: Compared to the previous entry, Termina doubled the number of playable characters from four to eight. Which is your favourite main character and why?
A7: Hard to pick just one. I like the whole cast and my favourite changes based on the time of day. Maybe right now at this moment it’s Tanaka. I like the idea of Hero’s Journey in the world of Fear & Hunger, even if his arc isn’t a complete quest just yet… I guess technically this doesn’t answer to your question though. Tanaka is not one of the eight…
Q8: Are there still secrets that you think people still didn’t discover? Maybe something about the mysterious Doppelgangers?
A8: There are some things I haven’t seen anyone mention. But I’ve been mostly in bug fixing mode since the release and honestly I haven’t properly been able to follow the discourse. It’s hard to have secrets in games these days. People start datamining even niche games like F&H. I think that’s like a magician revealing their secrets. Just makes things more boring. But it is what it is. You probably haven’t seen the last of doppelgängers yet though.
Q9: I already had the same question for the previous part of the interview, but I have the same curiosity for Termina: were there during the development monsters and bosses that were not included in the final release?
A9: Yeah there’s always content that doesn’t get to the game. Although I think I got most content in that I really wanted. I did have delusions of grandeur at times during development when I thought I could expand the game even further, but I never seriously thought that stuff was going to make it. At least not for the vanilla release build. There is at least one Pillarman variation I thought about adding and also wanted to have another Iki Turso creature randomly walking around the city on day 3. Those didn’t make it. At least not yet.
Q10: The first Fear & Hunger received many updates, including new endings, places to explore, and even the more light-hearted School Mode. Are you planning similar support for Termina? If yes, can you give us some clues about what to expect in the future?
A10: I’ll keep supporting the game with free updates. Not 100% sure to what extent quite yet, but there will be things to come. I think the first new content to come tries to deal with some replayability issues. A completely new route to the city might keep early game more fresh on repeated playthroughs and bring some variety to the areas you find in the game. New playable characters and a new ending route are also pretty high on the list. Some of these additions would take a lot of work though, so no idea when/if they are all coming to the game. I’ll just keep working on this stuff for as long as I feel like it. The game has certainly been received well enough, so the motivation is there in that regard.
Q11: Between jumps in time and different continents, such as the mysteriously hinted Vinland, the world of Fear & Hunger is continuously expanding. Maybe it is early to ask since the game only got released last month, but could you say us something about what to expect from the future of the saga?
A11: I have a couple of more fleshed out ideas, but it’s too early to tell if either of them become anything more. When F&H1 was close to being done, I thought of a thematic throughline for a trilogy of games. So I have a pretty good idea what F&H3 would be about even if there is a lot of freedom in the surface story to set it in different places in the timeline. It could take place before the released games or after, and that’s pretty much what those fleshed out concepts are. One happening before the events of F&H1 and one happening after F&H2. The other is a more conservative idea that’s closer to the established formula, while the other one is a wild card. I’d probably prefer to stir things up because I fear if things settle down to a more clear formula, any deviation from that in the future would be more difficult.
I do have some ideas for potential spin-offs too, so who knows, I might make something completely different than what’s on my mind currently. That’s what happened with Termina too. I had few very different concepts for F&H2, but ultimately I picked a wild card idea that came to me at the last minute.
I would like to thank again Miro for the opportunity. Miro provided really interesting answers to my questions, and I truly hope to see new contents for Termina in future. As a big fan of the saga, it was a pleasure for me to explore again the grim world of Fear & Hunger, and Termina really offered a huge amount of new contents. Meanwhile, Termina was quite a success, reaching already an “overwhelmingly positive” evaluation on STEAM. And if you still didn’t play it, Fear & Hunger 2 Termina is available on STEAM and ITCH.
Fear & Hunger 2 Termina is the sequel of probably the most grim and horror indie RPG. However, this time the setting is not in a dark version of middle ages, but a war-affected town in 1942. The change in setting influenced everything, from the inclusion of firearms, to more modern-looking creatures inspired by war machineries and medicine. But the world is still the same, imbued in cosmic horrors and malevolent Old Gods (and you can see some example here: Challenging the Old Gods of Fear & Hunger [Boss Battle]), where magic is real and people dies in unthinkable ways. Another huge difference with the prequel is that Termina is an open-world to be explored in the span of 3 days. The changing in time and day will affect the world, from quest and characters, to secret bosses and the appearance of new enemies. The combat system staid the same, still brutally difficult and based on severing the opponent limbs to reduce risks. After all, a deadly sword is not dangerous anymore if the arm wielding it is severed.
Grotesque and deadly enemies are still the core of the horror experience. From insane villager to deformed abominations, the world is a place full of dangers. And since Termina doesn’t feature a classic experience system, avoiding fights is a must, since the reward is often nothing… or maybe a severed limb as a souvenir of the battle. Understanding which enemy can be safely killed without risking permanent mutilations and damages is a core skill to acquire in such a difficult game. Interestingly, by having a doctor in the party, the bodies can be analysed to discover lore regarding their appearance and condition. Because the moon is not a regular object in Termina, and being “moon-scorched” brings terrible consequences. However, standard enemies are not the only one roaming the streets, and unique stalking enemies will often appear to chase the player. These enemies must be avoided at all costs, especially when met the first time and without a full party. From a sadistic clown stalking the city to kidnap people in their “fun dungeon” to an abomination made of beehives hiding in the shadows waiting to strike, the streets of the city are a dangerous place.
In the following article, I will analyse the most unique chasing stalkers of Fear & Hunger 2 Termina. The creatures analysed are unique enemies, non-mandatory, which should be in general avoided due to their strength. Without a fully equipped party, or a perfect solo set-up, they are almost impossible to kill without huge risks and consequences. They are also fast and relentless killers, which will chase after the player around the map. I will cover only pre-existing enemies, and not the moon-scorched forms of the human characters, which are indeed very interesting boss battles that I will probably cover in a future article.
Welcome to a world of pain ad suffering.
Death Mask is a challenging and disturbing enemy, not much in his appearance, but definitively in his behaviour. A gigantic humanoid creature, Death Mask looks not much affected by the deadly mutation scourging the area. Other than for the gigantic size, Death Mask looks like an extremely muscular male human, wearing a green chainmail-robe, a sort of plague doctor mask, and wielding two machete. Death Mask is often maniacally laughing, a sound distorted by the mask that he is wearing. In fact, the mask modifies the horrible death gurgle of the wearer into a “joyful” laugh.
The most bizarre behaviour of this enemy is definitively his entrance. Locked coffins are scattered all around the city, useless objects never containing any items, offering to the player only the purposelessly action of knocking on them without receiving any answer. However, in one random unlucky occasion, one of the dozens coffins will open, and Death Mask will rise from it, quickly stalking the player. Death Mask is an incredibly strong and deadly opponent, able to attacks four times in a turn, dealing incredible damages and amputating arms like if they are butter. Escaping from this fast enemy is already challenging, and one missing escape could mean losing limbs or party characters. And discovering that he could jump out from any coffin will create a pure sense of dread for the rest of the game. The bravest will be rewarded with different items, including a chainmail armor, and the powerful death mask itself.
If being chased by a gigantic hulking humanoid is already a terrifying experience, being chased by a gigantic hulking humanoid made of hornet-hives is the quintessence of terror. The Beekeeper is a grotesque being that hides in the city. A pale mass of muscles, the Beekeeper body is almost covered in hornet-hives, especially arms and head. Moreover, after examining the body, it is impossible to determine where the hornet-hives end and the creature starts. And if this was not enough disturbing, the creature is practically hollow inside… with the exception of hornets.
The Beekeeper hides behind a metal door, inside a sort of empty garage in the city. The first time that the player will pass by there, they will only hear the hornets buzzing. However, when crossing again that area, the door will suddenly open, and the Beekeeper will start the chase. The creature is a very difficult battle that must be avoided early on. In fact, the massive foe not only has a huge amount of HP, but can also attack multiple time in a turn. First, the hornets will swarm the player, stinging multiple times and inflicting poison. Then, the Beekeeper will finish the job, hitting them with the arms as strong as a maul, able to deal an insane amount of damages. And, after the strenuous fight, the reward for the victory is… nothing. This is another reason to completely avoid this dangerous fight.
While wandering around the city, the player can meet grotesque creatures made of human body parts stitched together. But it is only when reaching a mysterious bunker, hidden in the deepest woods, that the player will discover the evil mind behind these creatures. Stitches is the disturbing lunatic stalking the bunker while satisfying her obsession of surgically sewing humans together. Looking at her appearance, Stitches is a female vile looking maniac, with a grinning face and the skin slightly peeled up and sewn, like an ancient Cenobite. She tries to speak, but since she sewn her own mouth, this is an impossible task.
Stitches is a dangerous maniac that loves to cut and sew things together, but the most dangerous details is that she is not alone in the bunker. One of her creation, an amorphous mass of flesh, is also slowly wandering in the bunker. Start a battle with one of them, and you have one turn to escape, because on the next one, the other will join the fight. The mass of flesh has only a strong one-hitting attack, but also an insane amount of HP. On the other hand, Stitches is a jack-of-all-trade, able not only to heal herself, but also to quickly sever limbs and to immobilize characters using wires. The battle is excruciating and not very rewarding, and fighting two hunters at once is a huge challenge. Moreover, losing against Stitches unlocks a very disturbing Game Over scene… let’s just say heavily inspired by the movie “Human Centipede.”
A grotesque and disgusting abomination, the Centaur is probably the fastest creature in the game. It dwells in the woods, protecting a military bunker, charging and chasing whoever enters the area. The territorial beast is an offence to every sense, a nauseating being composed of two bodies horribly fused together. The main body is a horse-like creature, with a pale skin covered in deformities and bandages, and a bizarre head similar to a sort of grotesque flesh mushroom. The upper body is instead humanoid, with similar colour and aesthetic to the animal one. However, by closely analysing at the humanoid figure, it looks almost as the human and the animal were “very closed” together when they morphed. This is even confirmed by analysing the body, when the doctor addresses the issue as the “elephant in the room.” As before for other creatures in the prequel (and you can find the analysis HERE), the Centaur could be born from a marriage to the God Sylvian between a human and a beast, when the bodies get fused together.
The Centaur is fast and deadly, a creature almost impossible to avoid without using traps or taking weird trajectories hoping to kit it. And as the fastest creature in the game, this is a huge challenge. The fight is difficult to win without heavy damages and casualties. This is especially true due to the stampede attack, which will damage the entire party. Moreover, by having two heads, the creature is even impossible to kill with only one lucky head-shot. And if this was not enough, the wounded limbs spray an acidic blood. As other stalker before, the Centaur also gives no reward, so it is crucial to avoid this deadly fight.
The first unique chasing enemy met in the game is a disturbing mutant wearing a pig mask. The towering humanoid is dressed like a sort of pest control worker, also wielding a spray canister with an acid liquid inside. The pig mask is not a simple ornament but it is fused with his head, a secondary effect of the moon scorching mutation. The creature is first met in the village outside the city while spraying the pesticide liquid on drying fish. Even if it looks like a gigantic demented killing machine, the creature is instead one of the few still able to talk and keeping a sparkle of intellect.
The Vile is an extremely dangerous enemy, especially since he can be faced in the beginning of the game. The first time that the player crosses the village, the creature can be easily avoided, since he is busy spraying the fish. However, after entering the village again, the maniac will quickly appear to chase the player. And he is fast. The battle is tough, especially without additional party characters. The Vile can hit twice in a turn, first by spraying acid, and then by smashing with the gas canister. So severing the arms is an essential task to survive the battle. An interesting detail is that the battle can also be won by… talking. In fact, by talking at the creature and selecting the correct option, it is possible to trick the monster into temporary lifting the mask, a sufficient time to inhale the gas leaking from the canister and dying from it. A really unexpected solution to get rid of such a killing machine.
By looking at the image of random enemies grouped together, you would never expect this to be probably the most dangerous and annoying enemy in the game. Not only they are fast and extremely challenging, even with a full party, but the fact that they can randomly appear in different parts of the city could ruin a perfect run or cut you out of that area. The Mob are three enemies grouped together: a unique one and two common enemies. The first one is a sort of doctor or scientist wielding a rifle, with a deadly aim and a modest damage output. The other one is a grotesque half-cocooned mutant using a hammer to hit hard. But the most dangerous one is a unique gigantic mutant wielding a deadly circular saw.
The Mob can randomly appear when entering specific areas. First, you will hear the sound of a breaking bottle. Then, the buzzing chainsaw, and only in the end, you will see the three maniacs charging at you from multiple directions. They are fast, and just touching one of them will start the battle against the entire group. The Rifleman is a pretty standard enemy, but still able to inflict serious damage with his attacks, same for the Half-Cocooned with the hammer. However, the Meat Grinder, wielding the circular saw, is the most dangerous of the trio. His attacks hit multiple times, causing an insane amount of damage, bleeding status, and probably severing an arm. Even as standalone enemy, the Meat Grinder is a deadly challenger, but together with the other enemies, it becomes a battle almost impossible to win without losing characters and limbs. Moreover, each enemy is an individual target, without any body part to attacks, meaning that it is impossible to disarm any enemy. The Mob can completely ruin a run by locking the player out of a zone, because not only they can appear in very important areas, but are also extremely difficult to defeat and avoid.
Needles looks extremely inspired by Art the Clown from the horror movie Terrifier. And trust me, behind this look lies the most aggressive and disturbing stalker of Fear & Hunger 2 Termina. The deranged clown takes his name from his obsession for needles. In fact, not only he uses as weapon a syringe full of a mysterious liquid, but also a flail with medical needles in the end. The clown is a tough enemy, apparently only an ultra muscular human, but still incredibly tough to kill. Moreover, after examining his body, the question of “is he really dead” rises up. Judging by the sadistic behaviour, the strong bodies, the obsession for medical instruments, and the names, Stitches and Needles probably share a similar origin story.
Needles is an almost mandatory fight inside a military bunker, but later he will become the main stalker through the city streets. He can appear everywhere, accompanied by a maniac laugh and an on-screen message. At that point, Needles enters somewhere in the map, starting to hunt the party. He can be avoided by exiting the area, but sometimes his appearance is so repentant to nullify every escape plan. It is possible to kill Needles, but only after a dangerous battle. He attacks twice, once with the mysterious syringe able to inflict deadly status effects, then with the whip inflicting bleed and heavy damages. Plus, he also has a huge amount of HP. And he also has an ace in his sleeve. If you sever one of his arm, on the next turn, Needles will change his weapon for a gun, inflicting by surprise even more damages. Dying against Needles will not always cause a direct Game Over. The main character will wake up chained in a bunker, without a way of escaping. Then, a mysterious spirit will appear, entering inside the main character’s body and causing… well, let’s just day “massive happiness.” After that, the game will continue, leaving everybody puzzled about what happened and the motifs behind Needles’ actions.
Lakeview Valley is a very peculiar game, sometimes described as a murderous Stardew Valley. This is in part true, since the game allows many secondary activities, including gardening, fishing, and decorating the house. However, Lakeview Valley is also a gory, vile, and disturbing horror game, where the protagonist can act as a serial killer. After every murder, hiding the bodies and erasing the clues is essential to don’t get caught by the sheriff the following day. So be ready to murder every witness, throw the bodies inside the lake, and use ammonia to clean the blood.
While Lakeview Valley is widely known for its adult and violent components, as the other games in Lakeview saga, few is known about its deep and complex lore. The town is full of creepy inhabitants, hidden secrets, multiple endings, and even a morality system. Seriously, to discover every element and complete all the achievements, the player will need multiple playthroughs… or time loops. If you want to find more about this town and its secret, you can find Lakeview Valley and similar games in the article Towns with a Dark Secret.
Playing the good Samaritan comes with a price, because murderers receive a reward in this insane world. After murdering the first victim, a mysterious Circus will open during night in the woods outside town. Mergo is the mysterious creature in charge of the Circus, a tall guy with a hat, hiding in the shadows and showing only a wide row of sharp teeth. For every homicide, the player can select new dark powers from hollow trees outside town. These come in a wide selection of powerful skills, from infinite stamina and oxygen to unlocking a realtime map of the town.
And this is not everything, because between the many secrets, the existence of a hidden hellish dimension is one of the most unexpected. Even more, because this dimension can only be accessed by sleeping in a random bed inside a deserted house. The house is always locked, and finding a special key is required to open it. After that, by sleeping on the bed, the main character will twist in a vortex, ending up in this grotesque and violent hell. The place is full of demons, which will not directly harm the player, and will offer some disturbing philosophical conversations about hell and torment. The main area includes many characters, but it is also quite small. Only a long bridge connects the main area with the Queen’s room, but, of course, it is protected by a guardian. Entering this bridge without being summoned by the Queen or in possession of a holy power will lead to a horrible death. A gigantic invincible demon will crawl toward you, with the only viable option of running away from this place.
Every of your victims will end up in this violent and brutal hell, tortured for the eternity by the demons residing here. By talking with the victims, you can see detailed portraits of the brutal torments they are enduring. Some of them have their hair ripped out, burned, or skinned alive. Seriously, this is not a place for weak stomachs. But there is an exception. The mischievous boy of the town, Billie, will not being tormented by demons. Instead, Billie will act as one of the torturers, and the demons will compliment his skills. Well, looks-like not all the kids are pure and innocent in this twisted town.
What will happen when you murder all the town? That is the time when you will get an audience with the Queen of Hell. Meeting the Queen is the ultimate step of the most evil ending. But what should be the reward for such evil act? Well, let’s just say that the Queen is so amazed by your actions that will allow you to “satisfy” her.
Murdering to obtain supernatural powers, causing a hecatomb to sleep with the Queen of Hell, and a hellish dimension of torments: what other horrible destiny is waiting for this poor town? A detail is still missing, because if the victims’ souls will go straight to hell, their body will roam the streets as zombies. The town is never a safe place at night, between mothmen, the upper league demons, or a moving scarecrow (you can read more about it HERE). But after each murders, the victim will become a zombie, and the streets during the night will have a new enemy roaming around. Afterall, there is a small price to pay for being evil.
Being chased by an enemy almost impossible to defeat, relying on hiding or running away as the only chance of surviving, is one of the most extreme feelings in survival-horror games. And if famous pursuers such as Nemesis or Mr. X from early Resident Evil games, or Pyramid Head from Silent Hill 2, are the most iconic examples, other games such as Clock Tower made escaping an immortal stalker the core element of their gameplay (and you can read more here: https://surrealandcreepy.wordpress.com/2021/04/10/best-indie-games-similar-to-clock-tower/). However, pure horror games are not the only example where immortal stalkers are present. And sometimes, you can even experience this anxiety in very unexpected genres.
It is the case of turn-based JRPG, a genre usually associated with slow and static games, which instead surprisingly show several examples of immortal pursuers. As expected, several of these creatures come from Atlus games, the developer of the most known horror-themed JRPGs such as Persona and Shin Megami Tensei. On the other side, it is also true that some similar enemies can also be found in less horror-themed JRPGs such as Final Fantasy. Because I think everybody remembers the robot spider from the beginning of FF8. Moreover, this is especially true for more recent horror JRPGs, especially Idea Factory games, and even more fitting for dungeon-crawlers. Probably because of the mazes to explore, or the first-person view, dungeon-crawlers have a huge selection of immortal stalkers, chasing you till an unexpected dead end. And if instant death once trapped is not that different from any survival-horror games, being stuck in an almost impossible-to-win turn-based battle has a completely different taste. And if you find difficult to imagine that, try to think about the pressure of selecting the best move hoping to survive, while the creature annihilates at each turn a different character, or about attempting to escape the battle but failing each time. Moreover, random battles and turns create a denser atmosphere, because you don’t know how many different attacks the creature could do, or when it could appear. Another very interesting concept is that, while in pure horror games there is always a scheduled encounter to kill the immortal stalkers, in JRPGs this could be instead level-based. So maybe 50 levels later, when you are strong enough, you can come back to the stalker that was terrifying you early on to finally kill it.
So what will be on this list? I selected examples of immortal stalkers from different JRPGs, especially if horror-themed, and all with turn-based battles. If not, there would not be much different from pure horror games. The selected creatures should be also almost impossible to defeat, especially when met for the first time, and able to quickly annihilate the party. They should also be active stalkers, or appearing only when connected to rare or unwanted events or mechanics, in fact acting as a negative reward.
Mary Skelter– The Nightmares
Mary Skekter is a trilogy of dark dungeon-crawlers where everything is horror-themed. Not only the games are set inside a colossal living being but also blood is a central element in the gameplay (more info here: Mary Skelter Nightmares: When the dungeon is a colossal living creature with its own needs). But what truly shines as pure horror gameplay are the Nightmares, the immortal stalkers at the core of the experience. Every dungeon has its Nightmare patrolling around, disturbing creatures that are, at the beginning, impossible to kill. They will randomly appear when the player explores the dungeon, accompanied by creepy sounds and a white aura. If they spot the party, the only chance of surviving is to run away as far as possible till the chase is over. The worst thing? The map will be disabled during the chase, so you can easily finish trapped in a dead end. In battle, each Nightmare has an external shell that can be destroyed to briefly stun them, facilitating the escape. However, if random battles happen during the chase, the nightmare will join the fight, creating a very challenging situation. A Nightmare can only be truly defeated after losing the immortality, which will happen by destroying a core at the end of its dungeon. Moreover, the Nightmares are also seriously creepy and disturbing in appearance, linked to the theme of each dungeon and the background of the main heroine there, thus incorporating twisted fairytale elements in their grotesque design. If you are curious about more details, I also wrote a long analysis about the Nightmares, which you can check here: The Nightmares of Mary Skelter: fairytale characters reborn as twisted immortal stalkers.
Undernauts Labyrinth of Yomi – Luci
Undernauts is another dungeon-crawler JRPG, set in 1979 Tokyo where a mysterious structure appeared in the middle of the city. Full of dangers but also resources, soon mining companies start to explore this huge dungeon to unveil its secrets. Developed by Experience Inc, Undernauts is somehow connected to their main series Stranger of the Sword City. However, Undernauts is much more horror, violent, and disturbing than their other RPGs. Let’s just say that the first scene inside the game sees you as the only survivor of your mining expedition, which was was devoured by a kid with a giant leech-like arm. And you survived, only because the child was too full to eat you. While wandering around the dungeons, you will soon meet again that “sweet” cannibal child that spared you. Her name is Luci, an immortal child with a giant leech-like arm, which follows the orders of a mysterious man from a radio around her neck. While exploring the dungeons, you could randomly hear a radio massage of the mysterious man sending the girl to devour the party. After the message, whichever random or stationary battle in the dungeon, will be instead against Luci. So the only way to surely avoid this fight is to quickly run back to the main camp before a battle starts… and this is pretty stressful while exploring. During the fight, the little girls seems so weak and yet so disturbing. But she has the bad habit of attacking the rear row, usually quickly killing your magician or healer, thus making your life pretty miserable even if you succeed in repelling her. Yes, I didn’t use the word “killing” because Luci is immortal and, after behind defeated, she will just stand up and run away, after saying some very sad lines about failure and loneliness. But she will surely come back another time, trying to devour you. Moreover, Luci will also appear in some mandatory boss battles, together with other minions and the ability of massively healing, making such fights even more difficult. Without doubts, Luci is one of the most scary and disturbing stalkers on this list.
Persona – The Reapers
Persona started as a spin-off of Shin Megami Tensei, and now is more famous than the original series. Mixing real life and dark supernatural events, since Persona 3, the saga allows the exploration of huge dungeons while investing in your daily life. And also starting with Persona 3, the Reaper appeared to torment the main party. Especially in Persona 3, the Reaper is a pure horror stalker, integrated since the beginning of the game into the mechanics. If you explore for too long in a dungeon, depending on its size, the Reaper could appear on the floor to hunt you down. Since characters with levels below 70 have practically zero chances of defeating it, finding the exit as fast as possible is the only way to avoid death. Meeting the Reaper means starting an impossible battle, where the party will be annihilated in a couple of turns. The good side is that an end-game party can instead defeat the Reaper, unlocking very rare rewards. The Reaper is also present in Persona 4, but this time it acts only as a secret super boss, which can be faced only during a second playthrough after opening a mysterious chest. In Persona 5 the Reaper is back to stalk the party inside the dungeons, very similarly to Persona 3. When the Reaper appears, accompanied by the sound of rattling chains, the other party members will try to warn you about its danger, and how running away is the only option. Again, the battle is almost impossible to win due to the Reaper’s high defence and instant killing spells.
Etrian Odyssey – FOEs
A JRPG saga that truly integrated challenging battles against almost impossible foes is the dungeon-crawler Etrian Odyssey, published by Atlus. In almost every game of the saga, strong enemies called by the acronym FOE wander around the dungeons. They are always challenging enemies, usually very difficult to beat during the first visit, so it is always a recommended strategy to avoid these fights. However, Etrian Odyssey also integrated very interesting and variegated behaviours for the FOEs. In general, red FOEs work as relentless stalkers, charging at the player if in their sight. For example, the Freed Savage (Etrian Odyssey III) is a grotesque being caged behind gates but, once freed, the creature will quickly run toward the player to attack it. Other similar examples involved FOEs acting in pairs. For example, the Cruel Slayer (Etrian Odyssey IV) is a relentless robot hound almost impossible to outrun, but it will only start to track the players if they are spotted before by a wandering sentinel called the Cold Watchman. However, FOEs also exhibit more complex, hunting, and disturbing behaviours, creating challenging predators to avoid. A deadly example is the Vampire Tree (Etrian Odyssey III), an invisible FOE with a very horror-predatory behaviour. The tough monster will get visible only if close to you while you are in battle, slowly advancing at each turn of the fight. If you are too slow in the random fight, the FOE will join the battle. And having a tough boss with high defence, and a lethal poison that will both damage the characters and cure the monster, is not an easy challenge. Talking about erratic patterns, the disturbing Taurus Demon (Etrian Odyssey V) doesn’t directly charge the player, but once they line up with the monster, the FOE will start to mirror their movements, even if they are very far away. And since the creature is a deadly physical attacker, avoiding it is a necessity. Another deadly and peculiar FOE from Etrian Odyssey V is the Mounting Horror. The monster doesn’t move from its position, but will instead generate clones as strong as it to hunt the player, and the only way to survive is to find and kill the real monster. But the top spot for the scariest and most peculiar FOE from Etrian Odyssey goes to the Death Wall (Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold). Imagine being trapped in a twisted labyrinth typical of dungeon-crawler games, trying to find your way out. At some point, maybe you start to see that a wall was never there. What is happening? This is simply Death Wall, a FOE that mimics a normal dungeon wall… which will move only if you are not watching it. And once you are trapped in a dead-end hallway, you are forced to face it. And this is a battle where you cannot escape, and the Death Wall will literally try to crush all the party with strong physical AOE attacks.
The Lost Child–Nyarlathotep
Another dungeon-crawler to add to the many on the list, Lost Child is a spin-off of El Shaddai, an action game involving Catholic mythology and angelic wars. Sharing many similarities with Shin Megami Tensei, in The Lost Child, the main character can trap demons and fallen angels to fight in the party. And the design of the enemies is very original and interesting, as you can see here for some demons: The most unusual Demons from the Japanese dungeon-crawler The Lost Child. However, angels and demons are not the only enemies, since the main bosses are Lovecraftian creatures, including Cthulhu. And Nyarlathotep from the bonus dungeon R’lyeh Road is an immortal stalker that deserves to be in this article. R’lyeh Road is a gigantic bonus dungeon of 100 floors, which can be faced at any point during the game. Each floor has only one exit, and a switch to open it. And the big twist is the presence of Nyarlathotep, which will manifest on every floor once the door is open. Nyarlathotep does not physically face the party but, as a sort of alien parasite, will take control of normal enemies, appearing behind them like a sort of puppeteer, enhancing them to a boss-level threat. The other unique feature is that Nyarlathotep will physically appear on the map, charging toward the player, one step at a time. By planning your moves and using big rooms to your advantage, it is fact possible to avoid Nyarlathotep and escape to the next floor. So how it is possible to truly defeat Nyarlathotep? You can discover the answer only on the 100th floor of R’lyeh Road, making Nyarlathotep one of the most relentless stalkers on the list.
Mother 3 – Ultimate Chimera
Earthbound saga is a cult game not only in Japan, but also worldwide, one of the weirdest RPG ever developed that influenced recent RPGs such as Undertale or Omori. Between funny and disturbing moments, the party will face different creatures, each requiring very peculiar strategies to be defeated. And in Mother 3, there is also an immortal stalker: the Ultimate Chimera. This creature, created inside a lab, looks like a fluffy pink monster with a pair of small wings. But behind this innocent-looking monster lies a deadly enemy. Once it sets free, the monster will roam the lab attacking NPCs and chasing the player. The terrible surprise is that, instead of starting a normal battle, meeting the Chimera means an instant Game Over. There is no hope in fighting the creature, so running away is the only alternative. Luckily, the ultimate Chimera can be deactivated by a button on its back… but only temporary since the party will meet the monster again during the game.
Death end re;Quest 2 – Dark Shadow
The sequel of one of the most horror and disturbing JRPG from recent years is even more insane and terrifying. Hopping between a cursed virtual reality and a town hiding a cult, Death end re;Quest 2 shows a set of really grotesque enemies (that you can check here: The most creepy and disturbing enemies and bosses of Death end re;Quest 2). But random enemies are not the only threat, since another entity could appear anywhere to hunt the party: the Dark Shadow. This cryptic creature appears together with some distortions in any point inside a dungeon. The towering shadow creature advances slowly toward the player, but a mere wrong turn inside a dead-end hallway… and it is Game Over. Because as with the Ultimate Chimera in Mother 3, simply touching the Dark Shadow means a sudden death. Moreover, sometimes the game will position the Dark Shadow in impossible points, where gimmicks like finding hidden suspended paths are the the only way to avoid the creature.
Shadow Hearts – Fox Face
Shadow Hearts is the first (or the second, if we consider Koudelka) entry of a dark saga of JRPGs released for PS2. Mixing European history with demons and eldritch abomination, the game knew how to assemble RPG mechanics with horror elements. And an immortal stalker could not miss this setting. Shadow Hearts involved a very peculiar mechanic around the Malice, a dark and malevolent energy released from death. The more the main character kills enemies in battle, the more Malice is accumulated. Till the breaking point, where the UI becomes red and the Graveyard opens its door. At this point, the Fox Face can appear instead of any random encountered. At first, the creature is not very intimidating, merely a human with a fox mask. However, this adversary represents the protagonist’s fears, and can be challenged only in a 1-on-1 combat, where death is the most possible outcome since the enemy has many dirty moves. The player can lower Malice and avoid Fox Face by going to the Graveyard, to then speak to mysterious floating masks demons and participate in their fighting arena. This is a perfect example of a terrifying stalker very well integrated into the game, so deadly and scary because the main character must face it alone.
Fear & Hunger – Crow Mauler and Greater Blight
Fear & Hunger is probably the darkest RPG ever made, set in a world so grim and sick that will make you often chill. Featuring a combat based on mutilations, where several negative effects are permanent, including death, and lacking any experience coming from combat, avoiding enemies is the standard in this game (and for more you can check the different articles I wrote here: https://darkrpgs.home.blog/category/videogames/fear-hunger/). But some enemies are even more specifically design to act as terrifying Stalkers. The most fitting example is the Greater Blight, a gigantic creature roaming the empty wasteland of the Void, a secret end-game area. While wandering around, sometime a message saying that something is following you will appear. Ignore the message, and soon enough more intimidating ones will appear. If you find a hole in the ground on time, you can hide there till the creature loses your scent. Otherwise, be ready for a tough battle. The Greater Blight looks like a gigantic T-rex missing the eyes, a deadly foe that can slaughter the entire party in a couple of turns. However, a strong and lucky party can still defeat the creature, which will only escape to prepare for another chase. And the player will gain nothing from this deadly battles, except probably for dead characters and mortal wounds. Another infamous enemy is the Crow Mauler, probably the most hated boss in the entire game. In the beginning, Fear & Hunger has only one save point, an old and forgotten bed inside a jail. However, saving in the game is also dangerous, since you have a 50% chances of facing the Crow Mauler. And an underprepared party will also surely die there, because the tough creature has even one-shot attacks. But if you want to freely save the game, soon or later you must defeat this creature. And if this was not enough, the end-game dungeon has trapdoors scattered around. If you fall inside them, you will finish in a basement… chased by a two-headed Crow Mauler, an enemy almost impossible to defeat. Anyway, if you are curious to know more about the Crow Mauler, I wrote an analysis here: When it is impossible to Save: surviving all the mutilations of the Crow Mauler in Fear & Hunger [Boss Battle].
Shin Megami Tensei – Jailer and Dante
Shin Megami Tensei saga doesn’t need introduction, since it is probably the most famous and longevous dark JRPG around. Moreover, the monsters based on mythologies around the world, created by Kazuma Kaneko, are still now an example in monster designing. And surprisingly, some of them also worked as immortal stalkers. An example is the Jailer from Digital Devil Saga (also known as the Buddhist demon Kumbhanda), a deviant creature in charge of a prison. The jail is also a factory where humans are converted into canned food, the Jailer’s favourite. And yes, if you didn’t know, cannibalism is a central theme in Digital Devil Saga (and you can read more about it here: Digital Devil saga: A cannibal JRPG — Surreal and Creepy). During the first battle against the Jailer, you will realise of a drastic anomaly: the boss has an attack able to paralyse everybody with a 100% success rate, quickly ending the battle. Later on, the prison becomes its hunting ground, where the main character should physically escape from the Jailer and its traps, while finding a way to trick it into losing its powers. If the Jailer is a pure horror stalker, another enemy is an even more emblematic hunter in Shin Megami Tensei. Just this time, it is an enemy that you would never expect. “Featuring Dante from the Devil May Cry Series” became quite a meme for SMT 3 Nocturne, and the legendary demon hunter from Capcom’s games truly appears in one of the bonus dungeons. Dante will literally stalk the player while exploring a complex maze, shooting them if they are far but still in his range, or starting a deadly battle when reaching them. In the last case, Dante will immediately kill the weaker demon in the party with his sword. And if the main character is the lowest-level one… well, time for an instant Game Over.
Persona Q – FOEs
Persona Q is a spin of the main series released for 3DS, with a gameplay more similar to Etrian Odyssey than the regular Persona. The similarities are so many that, even in this case, while exploring the dungeons, you can meet deadly FOEs. As well as for Etrian Odyssey, FOEs have different behaviours, and, in general, it is often recommended to avoid them. Moreover, due to the darkest nature of Persona setting, the FOEs are even more disturbing. For example, the Beast of Lust is a sort of small Cherub seated on top of a bondage horse, creating a very disturbing enemy that follows the player if they are directly watching the creature. So no eye contact, no pain. In the next dungeon, the Evil Spirit Club, the party must face creepy clusters of dolls, the Lovely Dolls, which share some similarity with Junji Ito’s Tomie. They are stationary, but tends to surprisingly teleport toward the player causing a jump-scare. Luckily, the light can repel those dolls granting safe passages. And if the Loving Dolls are not enough, the ancient version, the Old Doll, will actively chase the party and can even block some doors to create smaller hunting grounds. Other FOEs, such as the Festival Dudes, act as super tough side battles. They are a group of 4 monstrous and coloured muscled guys bringing around a shrine, which move in a fixed pattern around the dungeon. However, even if they are extremely strong, they can be defeated by selecting specific characters for a very unusual party. To conclude, the Reaper from previous Persona games is also there to hunt and terrify the party in the last dungeons.
Action RPGs are definitively a prolific genre these days, challenging games often inspired by Fromsoftware’s works for their mechanics. Due to their challenging gameplay, death is always ready behind a corner, and players will learn to advance cautiously. For this reason, “Souls-like” mechanics combine very well with horror or dark atmospheres. However, while many titles use dark fantasy worlds and characters to enhance the stressful environment, very few games try to build a completely different world. Now thanks to Hellpoint, action RPGs have a representative for horror sci-fi settings.
Hellpoint is an action-RPG set on a mysterious orbital station where something catastrophic happened. Between cosmic horrors, claustrophobic corridors, madness, lack of oxygen, and a gigantic black hole constantly imposing its presence outside the station, Hellpoint’s atmosphere couldn’t be more horror. The oppressive feeling while walking around the station exactly triggers all the right notes of a proper horror sci-fi product. Also in terms of gameplay, Hellpoint is a great addition to the genre, including nice variations such as firearms, insane weapons including the hand of an eldritch god, cosmic magic, and alternative dimensions where the main bosses offer dialogues instead of a brutal fight (you can read more here if interested about: Why fighting when you can ally with Cosmic Evil Gods in Hellpoint? [Evil Quests]). And the surprises are not over, because one year from the official release, Cradle Games studio, the Canadian team behind Hellpoint’s development, announced a new DLC called Blue Sun.
While waiting to step back into the claustrophobic tunnels of Idis Novo station, I had the possibility of interviewing Cradle Games to know more about Hellpoint and its development. Cradle Games’ designer, Mathieu Boudreau, was kind enough to answer my questions. Also known as “Gropwel,” Mathieu is a veteran in game development and worked before with Activision and Ubisoft before co-starting Cradle Games.
If you want to know more about the development of Hellpoint, how its atmosphere and system were born, and the future of the series, you should read the following interview with Mathieu and Cradle Games.
Q1: Thank you for the possibility of interacting with you. Hellpoint is an interesting new take on souls-like games, how did the project start, and how Cradle Games was born?
A1: Of course! The project took off in the Fall of 2015 when we founded Cradle Games with a couple of fellow game devs with which I’ve been working for over a decade at Ubisoft and Activision. It all started in my house basement where I concocted this strange dark sci fi universe and we were just obsessed with the new trend of hardcore games. I took all the ideas I’ve been carrying on from childhood from Doom 1993 and Super Metroid and it was on.
Q2: The oppressive sci-fi atmosphere is clearly one of the strong points of Hellpoint. Which movies or games did you use as a reference to create this horror environment?
A2: The main inspiration for the game world came from my love of old Swedish death metal like In Flames and Meshuggah who often incorporated elements of cosmic horror put on top of face melting riffs. Game wise it was 1993’s Doom and Super Metroid that I wanted to explore again, with that unrestrained old-school level design jam packed with secrets and the feeling of no hand holding, the strong feeling of isolation deep within an alien world.
Q3: Souls-like games are definitely one of the most famous genres now, with amazing games both from big and small studios. While developing Hellpoint, which were your “to do” and “to don’t” things to create your personal view of Souls-like games?
A3: While we adore the Dark Souls series, it’s really Bloodborne that left the deepest trauma on our gamer mantra. To me the main character is really the game world, and it’s got its own story, logic and attitude so very early on we forgot about the soul series to build and expand our own thing. It’s a really fun process! But from the beginning we made it a point of honor to invent more new ideas and mechanics than we borrowed from existing game, so yes Hellpoint has a stamina bar and “bonfire” kind of checkpoints, but beyond that it is its own thing with the jump mechanic, the real time station orbit, the way we handle multiplayer, etc.
Q4: From the huge hand of a dead god to a scythe made from the bones of an interstellar whale: Hellpoint’s weapons are a true blast of innovative and well-integrated designs. Could you name some of the favourite weapons of your team?
A4: Oh, thank you so much! We’ve put a lot of love in the weapon design and really pushed it as far as was humanely possible for us. My personal favorite is Nemundis Occulus, I find it really bad ass to defeat a boss and then fight using his eyeball. I think the team is really into the new weapons that we’ve produced for the Blue Sun DLC. They are very YOLO.
Q5: Hellpoint is rich in weapons and monsters, but I am curious, were there some creatures or weapons that for some reason were cut out from the final release?
A5: Probably we should have cut more, hahaha! That was a lot of content to produce for our small 11 people team. But yes, there was some cut content but I’m glad to say we’re putting it all back in with the Blue Sun DLC.
Q6: A very unexpected feature of Hellpoint is that the Cosmic Gods are not only enemies to be defeated but, with the right choices, they can become allies and even provide quests. Why did you decide to implement this feature in the game?
A6: Well I think it’s an interesting aspect of the “Lovecraftian” cosmic horror genre that these giant entities are too massive to really give a damn whether we live or die. So it’s an achievement for the player to be able to interact with them in either ways. It also fitted with the concept of the “Underworld” which is an inversion of everything you find in the real world.
Q7: Hellpoint is full of novel and interesting mechanics. One of the most interesting is how the orientation of the ship around a black hole basically defines “hours,” and specific events or places can only be accessed at a specific time. How did this concept evolve during the development of the game?
A7: Something that we always like to do when we make game is try to make it feel like the game world is ever evolving whether you’re in it or not. It’s not like the show Truman where the world revolves around you, rather the opposite. It makes the world feel more concrete, alive and unpredictable. But for Hellpoint, the black hole orbit system was a huge challenge! We had to plan many different game states and mods for environments that were already immense, we had to design a dynamic skybox that spins and twists realistically, we had to make correct maths for the spin of the Irid Novo station so that the black hole always looks glorious in the sky, we had to create many different sets of stat balancing and loot drop tables for every bosses and enemies… a bit insane but it paid off by making the game feel so unique and alive.
Q8: Surely Hellpoint can be defined as a challenging game, especially some sections (personally still having nightmares about the zero-gravity sections outside the ship). How did you balance the difficulty? Were there some areas that were majorly reviseddue to being too difficult?
A8: To be honest for us it was rather the opposite that happened. Prior to Dark Souls the whole industry was in a “casual gaming” and “accessibility first” trend so we were very thankful to From Software for making hardcore games popular again. We cranked up the difficulty to make a very skill-based game but we also wanted players to be able to personalize their experience, allowing them to skip to late game environments if they find the right secrets, or letting them craft items that would allow them to lower the stats of the enemies. The character stats and upgrades are basically not capped at all. But the enemies are still savage and can be buffed if the black hole is in the sky. The game can be played in coop uninterrupted from beginning to the end, etc.
Q9: Recently, for the first anniversary, the DLC Blue Sun was announced for Hellpoint. Could you tell us something more of what deadly and lurking things a player should expect in the new DLC?
A9: I think we really outdid ourselves with this DLC! I can’t really say much but I really hope players will see how much we evolved as a team since last year. One thing I wanted to do is making sure the added content doesn’t feel tacked on and expendable, I wanted to make content that makes the whole game more exciting and motivates another playthrough, and make sure that we make it interconnected with the base game so it doesn’t feel tacked on.
Q10: Now that the DLC is coming out, I imagine this will be your main focus for some time, but I am curious, do you already have plans for a future game or a sequel of Hellpoint? Could you tell us something just to satisfy our curiosity?
A10: We’re on fire. We got tons of projects and ideas, we’re expanding, we can finally not worry about money so much and focus on crafting our art and working with our fan base. We got new IP’s in the work as well that is sure to make folks fall off their chair. I don’t think anybody can possibly expect what’s next for us. We want to concretize as many ideas as possible while we’re not too old. It’ll take time but it’ll be worth it.
I would like to thank Cradle Games for the nice opportunity, especially Mathieu for the very interesting answers. I look forward to diving again into the oppressive universe of Hellpoint with the new DLC Blue Sun, mentally preparing to slash new grotesque monsters using the eyeball of a cosmic god. While waiting for the new DLC, if you still didn’t try Hellpoint, it is available on STEAM and all the major consoles.
Castlevania and Metroid created their own genre, which is getting a second youth with indie games: metroidvania. These games have in common a 2D aesthetic, a huge map to explore with interconnected elements, many secrets and hidden areas to discover using different abilities, backtracking, and in general a huge focus on exploration. Usually, metroidvania games have a wide bestiary, with many standard enemies, and gigantic bosses to defeat. RPG elements are also quite common, including statistics, levels, and dozens of different equipment.
Surely, both the founding fathers of the genre have their amount of horror elements. Metroid features grotesque aliens and an overall lonely and oppressive atmosphere. Castlevania is also not second in this, with one of the most inspiring dark fantasy/gothic settings, and with a bestiary full of the most disturbing creatures (and you can check them here: Most dark, scary and creepy bosses from Castlevania saga). However, with the new flow of indie metroidvania, the genre got even more refreshed with novel dark, horror, or mature atmospheres.
In the following article, I will describe some of the darkest or horror metroidvania games. I will include only proper metroidvania, with a 2D art-style, a huge interconnected world, and multiple abilities or RPG features needed to explore.
I will focus on metroidvania with dark, horror, or in general a mature atmosphere. It could be for the oppressive or depressing environment, for the brutal combat and the violent gameplay, or for the disturbing elements: whichever is the cause, these games are more mature-oriented than the average metroidvania. Moreover, for each of them, I will analyse the world-building, the bestiary and the bosses, and why the atmosphere is considered dark or horror. The article will be constantly updated, so new fitting games will be included once released.
Vigil: the Longest Night
Details: Vigil was a surprise last year, and one of the best examples of metroidvania directly infused with horror elements. Vigil is a great homage to the legendary Bloodborne, sharing with it the dark themes and the oppressive atmosphere. Vigil is a pure metroidvania with strong RPG elements, including a deep level system, skills, and different playstyles. From fast daggers to the complexity of the bow, the player has the power of shaping the gameplay. The exploration is a focal point, with a giant interconnected world full of secrets to discover, including alternative bosses, hidden eldritch realms, and dozens of different armors and equipment. This is where the game gets even more interesting, because every item not only is very original and interesting to use, but also well characterised in terms of lore.
World: From dense and deadly woods, to haunted mines and a ship graveyard inhabited by deep-sea eldritch terrors, the world of Vigil is a huge and twisted net touching common dark fantasy tropes. Secrets are everywhere, and backtracking is crucial to find the most hidden places and battles, and secondary characters have different quests to fulfill. Moreover, the same world will be visited under three different “conditions” (avoiding spoilers) and many areas will change according to this, with new enemies, items, and bosses. And to conclude, how to forget about the secret eldritch realms accessible only while playing special ocarina on an altar in the depths of a crypt?
Dark/Horror: The horror in Vigil is a very strong element. Secondary characters will face horrible consequences, death and disease are everywhere, and grotesque experiments on innocent people are only the tip of the iceberg. Moreover, secondary quests could end up really traumatically, and not every character should be trusted. Church and religion are also a twisted trope present in Vigil, painting an ever more dark but believable fantasy world.
Bestiary: The grotesque enemies are pure nightmare-inducing, and masterfully portrayed with a gorgeous art style. Every area has several new enemies, with very interesting designs and behaviors. For example, the ship graveyard is full of complex deep-sea creatures, including a sort of snail-woman and an aggressive mass of tentacles. The bosses have also a nightmarish and original design. I challenge you to meet the Broodmother and her spawn without being heavily disturbed (and you can know more about her in my article: Monster of the Week: The Brood Mother and her progeny (Vigil)).
Details: An unexpected surprise for a crazy metroidvania based on indie comics, set in an insane sci-fi world full of charm and personality. The art-style is very detailed and interesting, especially the enemies’ design and some locations. It could be raw sometimes, but it is full of passion and able to paint a unique world full of colors and details. The combat side is not incredibly deep, with very standard combos and easy but really interesting boss fights. Platform sections are quite challenging, but never tiring, thanks to really well-planned checkpoints. Of course, as a one-man game, there are some bugs that can be a bit bothering. However, the experience is so original and interesting, that I kept playing regarding the bugs. The world, the dozens of characters, the crazy bosses, and the many secrets are too interesting to stop playing.
World: The game is based on a quite big open world, with a lot of secrets and places to explore. A day/night cycle allows different layers of exploration, with some places opening only at a specific time, and different monsters or collectibles only available at night, for example. Each new area is a completely novel and bizarre environment, from a DJ club, to a sort of pseudo-gothic asylum, and an arena managed by a group of pig-butchers on stilts. The game is a crazy tornado of surprises and pulp references, with secondary quests allowing to access a UFO or to see the true face of Santa Claus. Also, the game is a proper metroidvania, since new upgrades will allow the player to explore new areas.
Dark/Horror: Knifeboy cannot be defined as a horror game under any category, but it surely meets the requirement to be in this article for the high level of violence and the grotesque and twisted characters/enemies. Knifeboy is like an indie comic book targeted to a mature audience, a game that is not afraid to show enemies cut in half and some nudity here and there.
Bestiary: This game knows how to create original enemies and bosses. If common enemies like a sort of colorful humanoid bat that looks like a Mexican painting under LSD are already interesting, including sort of pig-like creatures walking on stilts, the bosses have an especially great design. They are difficult to describe using words, just imagine the most gigantic, colorful, complex, and bizarre abomination, and probably you will not be even close to what you will face in Knifeboy.
Details: Blasphemous is probably one of the most well-known games in this article, a huge metroidvania with strong horror elements inspired by Catholicism. The game is challenging and full of surprises, with an amazing world to explore and many tough fights. Blasphemous has also incredible pixel art, able to convey the brutality of the fighting system in every red pixel. If you are looking for a challenging, brutal, and horror metroidvania, Blasphemous should be your first choice.
World: Custodia is a dark and cruel world shaped by the Miracle, a sort of unknown force that molds the bodies of true believers in horrible ways. The world is beautifully interconnected, using really original and haunted places. From the cold peaks in which is hiding a monastery of nuns that self-burn their bodies, to the rooftop of a gothic cathedral inhabited by twisted angelic beings: Blasphemous knows how to create a complex world using religious references. The secondary characters are an integrated part of this world, insane being touched by the Miracle, forced for example to be constantly whipped by an invisible force, or to be forever imprisoned half-fused in an olive tree.
Dark/Horror: Blasphemous is probably the most horror and brutal metroidvania that is out. Every detail is pure horror and nightmare-inducing, especially how religion is twisted in favor of horror. Moreover, the fighting is brutal, with gory executions when enemies are at low health.
Bestiary: Every single enemy is a grotesque combination of religion, Spanish folklore (the developers are from there), and pure horror. Seriously, every single enemy, from the most common soldier to the most gigantic boss, could be on the cover of a metal album. The religious elements combine with the creatures in very original ways, including a boss inspired by the “Pietà” of Michelangelo, or others with Church architectures inserted in their design (more info here: Catholic Art and Architecture in the twisted world of Blasphemous: how religious iconography can build nightmares). Plus, the bosses are simply great, especially the giant skeleton of a cardinal lifted by giant hands, and the disturbing Exposito, which can only be described as a sort of gigantic baby Jesus that will literally rip the main character in half (which also have an analysis here: Monster of the Week: Exposito, Scion of Abjuration (Blasphemous)).
Details: Heavily inspired by Castlevania Symphony of the Night, Demoniaca is a metroidvania combining horror elements, light adult contents (brief sex and nudity), and a combat system typical of fighting games based on combos. The RPG elements are many and well-integrated, including many different items and random drops. However, since here on Dark RPGs you can already find a complete review of Demoniaca, I will just leave here the link for more details: Demoniaca Everlasting Night Review: a dark and mature beat ’em up metroidvania.
World: As mainly inspired by Castlevania, Demoniaca is entirely set in a gigantic castle. There are of course different sections, for example the library or a hall full of mirrors. The exploration is rewarded not only for secrets but also for hidden merchants and moves. A great feature is the special mini-bosses marked on the map, but almost impossible to defeat without coming back much later at a higher level. Some characters are quite original and brilliant, such as Boxman, a mysterious man teaching powerful techniques hiding his face inside a box.
Dark/Horror: Demoniaca is a violent game, especially in the pixel art cutscenes and for some brutal elements in the background. The game has also mild adult content, including brief sexual scenes that appear like random illusions, or nudity, especially involving secondary bosses, or for example, a character seating on a throne while surrounded by half-naked slaves.
Bestiary: Part of the bestiary is not very original and inspired. For example, there are too many variants of skeletons, and some creatures are really too similar to iconic enemies from Doom. However, there are some interesting surprises, especially in the library section and in the second half of the game, with creepy murderous nurse dolls wielding massive syringes or hack-saws. Another brilliant example is a gruesome spiked-skeleton with inserted body-parts that is able to inflict the negative status “thorne,” transforming the main character into a sort of Hellraiser-ish version of herself.
Details: The game is still in Early Access, but is clearly showing its potential. The strongest point of Dark Light is its sci-fi horror atmosphere, a sort of 2D Dead Space, which is something not very common for a metroidvania. Dark Light has also major influences from Dark Souls, especially the level up system, based on converting fragments collecting during exploration in credits. But of course, if death arrives before the conversion, the fragments will be forever lost. The gameplay is very classic, but involving several pieces of equipment, including a firearm, a melee weapon, grenades, and a drone. New items are randomly dropped while exploring, or directly as loot from defeated enemies.
World: Earth is now a rotten wasteland, a harsh landscape roamed by deadly creatures. The atmosphere is always oppressive, and the exploration extremely cautious. Even if the world is still under construction, there are already several paths and secret areas to uncover, usually using keys collected in other zones. The backgrounds are gorgeous and haunting, able to paint a horror sci-fi world, with a gigantic robotic hand emerging from the ground, or a titanic cybernetic skull, just to mention some examples.
Dark/Horror: The atmosphere is dense and oppressive, the combat is brutal, and dying is a common occurrence. Enemies will ambush from dark places, and, several times, a double-tap will be necessary to check if an enemy is truly dead. The silence is a constant threat to your psychological health while exploring the wasteland, the equivalent of exploring the silent ship in Dead Space.
Bestiary: In Dark Light, you can expect a series of quite classic but always interesting examples of horror sci-fi creatures. Invisible mutants, deadly parasites, grotesque zombies with huge chainsaws, or chaos warriors in full armor and with a Gatling gun: if you can name a creature-trope from horror-scifi, it is probably in the game.
Salt and Sanctuary
Details: One of the first examples of recent dark metroidvania, Salt and Sanctuary tried to be the first 2D Souls-like. And the experiment succeeded with really good results. The combat is stamina-based, tough and challenging, while the RPG elements are deep and satisfying. The dark world of Salt and Sanctuary is open to any gameplay, with hundreds of weapons, items, and enchantments to collect. The game is also highly-replayable, including a NG+, multiple endings, and branch-based secondary quests with more than one outcome.
World: The world is entirely contained in a huge island collecting castaways from many shipwrecks. The island is a mysterious and ethereal place, a sort of limbo or border between life and death. Salt is the main element comprising the creatures living on the island, a sort of “soul,” but also the main currency to level up in the game. Moreover, the island is a very variegated environment, with cursed forests, colossal pyramids, hidden lakes, and amoral alchemic labs. The world is a twisted maze of areas very well connected, especially vertically. There are also many hidden elements, including bosses, locations, and even obscure guilds to join.
Dark/Horror: The game has a lonely, dark and oppressive atmosphere, a constant tale of silent areas and suffering. In this sort of limbo, there is no space for anything funny or light-hearted, but only for speechless sufferance and existential doubts. The backgrounds, especially of the bosses, retrieved through the bestiary or item descriptions in proper Souls-like formula, will also add drama and horror to the already heavy atmosphere.
Bestiary: From the half of the game, every monster will be incredibly original, dark, and disturbing. From murderous dolls to living cages waiting to imprison the player to be their new son, every new enemy is an unexpected and challenging surprise. The bosses are especially disturbing, imbued with madness or extreme loneliness. A terrifying example is the skinless, a giant alchemic abomination without skin, or a metal “tree” made of tortured bodies that need to be destroyed to defeat the boss. But my favourite example is probably the Queen of Smiles, a deranged and grinning maniac with a psychotic background, which loves blades and decorating her room with corpses.
Details: Minoria is the spiritual sequel of Momodora, with a different art-style and the same developers behind it. As the famous Momodra before, Minoria is a proper metroidvania, just on a slightly smaller scale. The game features interesting RPG elements, including levels, and different pieces of equipment to create the best strategy for every situation. The art-style is gorgeous, and it is perfectly fitting for telling a fairytale. But be aware, behind the fable-like facade, Minoria hides a more dark core, touching important topics from religion to coexisting with nature. Minoria is also full of secrets, including a hidden boss after a set of deadly challenges, NG+, and multiple endings. But what I really liked is that, if the player is able to defeat a boss without receiving damage, a secret item will be unlocked, and this is different for every boss.
World: Minoria is almost completely set in dark and labyrinthine corridors, from the majestic beauty of a cathedral to the inner depths of a torture dungeon. A forest can also be accessed later on, creating a more complex world, but still embraced in a decadent and sad-inducing atmosphere. There are also hidden chambers with a lot of interesting details and furniture scattered around. Plus, the player can retrieve diary pages that will unveil even more the dark lore of Minoria.
Dark/Horror: Even if the fairytale art-style could make you think otherwise, psychologically speaking, Minoria is probably the darkest game on this list. Gray morality is at the core of the experience, including delicate topics such as being brainwashed by religion. Several elements will make you feel unexpectedly uneasy, including bosses begging for their life, or random prisoners asking to be killed to ease their sufferance. Gore is also present in the background, including corpses and walls drenched in blood. The atmosphere is so interesting that I also wrote a complete article about it, here is the link if you want to read more about: The gray machinery of the Inquisition behind the cute facade of Minoria [Review and Analysis].
Bestiary: The number of creatures is not as wide as other titles, and the regular enemies far too common, but bosses and sub-bosses have interesting designs, with complex and inspired battles. The main enemies are usually witches or ancient nature forces. The witches tend to have different shapes, for example a gigantic and sexy succubus. Force of nature can also become particularly interesting, such as a giant slug-plant woman.
Details: Grime is an unconventional metroidvania with a gorgeous graphic, tough and challenging combat with elements from Souls-like, and a quite unique setting and protagonist. The main character is in fact a silent humanoid black-hole, born from a complex cataclysmic phenomenon. The creature will finish purposeless on a mysterious rock world, where heavy creatures will satisfy its craving for “mass.” Grime has everything a RPG can desire: multiple weapons associated with different scaling skills, stats to upgrade with enough experience, and unique abilities to unlock by hunting and devouring specific prey.
World: The world is a joy for the eyes, a surreal land that looks like a desert alien world from a Dalí painting. Light elements, gigantic statues, and primitive art and paintings are all part of this living world inhabited by cryptic creatures and ruled by mysterious principles. The inhabitants of this surreal land are tribal rock creatures, often obsessed with the perfect proportions, since they have abnormally big heads, or with chosen ones able to “carve” the rock. Every encounter is cryptic and hermetic, part of a world that is as difficult to understand as fascinating to discover.
Dark/Horror: Grime is not a horror game by definition, nor it is violent or scary. However, the game is entirely enriched in an uneasy and unpleasant atmosphere related to the fact that the protagonist is basically an embodied law of destruction. Because being a humanoid black hole is not just aesthetic in Grime. Devouring every enemy is a base skill in the game to evolve and become stronger, by completely absorbing the mass of the enemies inside the black hole. The inhabitants will be fascinated and terrified by your presence, some will even worship and offer sacrifices, while the black hole will explore the planet and purposelessly devouring everything. Some scenes before the boss fights are also highlighting this uneasy feeling of “am I the bad guy?” as it was beautifully executed before in Nier. For example, the Whispering Mothers are two fleshy being made of a plant, sort of dancing flowers with a mouth in between. They are somehow teaching art to the stone creatures and, when the protagonist will approach, one of the rock people will run to the Mothers asking for help, in a twisted and reversed heart-breaking scene.
Bestiary: The world is full of dangerous and feral foes, almost all of them made of solid rock or tentacle-like plants. In this hostile world, any enemy should be underestimated. Some rock people use primitive weapons of stone and bones, while other beings are ferocious and aggressive masses of teeth and claws. Other creatures are like incomplete or broken statues, almost static beings that fly around attacking like drills, or will stealthily throw spears while hidden as normal art pieces. The bosses are gigantic and complex beings, where chaotic organic life meets the lifeless stone. An example of this is Amalgam, a grotesque creature with multiple arms and eyes, firstly hidden inside the gigantic head of a statue like a sort of alien hermit crab.
Devil Slayer Raksasi was really a surprise: a top-down action RPG with a souls-like battle system and roguelike elements, together with an innovative dark-fantasy atmosphere with strong references to Chinese folklore. The game has an addictive and challenging gameplay, with strategic boss battles against really interesting creatures, a lot of items and weapons to equip, and a set of 7 main characters with different skills and powers.
The game is still in Early Access on STEAM, but in one year received many updates, from new modes and gameplay-elements, to additional playable characters, bosses, and sub-chapters. The game is yet a complete and challenging experience, with different routes and optional bosses, secret sets to acquire, and the possibility to train and level-up the main characters. The heroines are all quite different, from a half-fox woman using a giant cannon, to a fast demon using knives: the replayability is very high and completionists will need dozens of hours to see everything
Raksasi’s most unique feature is the amazing mix of a novel dark-fantasy universe inspired by Chinese legends, myths, and ancient folklore. Settings, secondary characters, and especially enemies are all very interesting for design and lore. As a great addition, a recent update also improved the bestiary, and now not only it is possible to read the lore of more than 100 creatures, but also to enjoy the gorgeous and detailed portraits of each monster.
Today, together with Glasses Cat Games, the team of three developers behind Raksasi, we will look at the development of the game, the future updates, the lore behind secondary characters, and how the Chinese culture influenced the game. We will also know the favorite bosses of the developers, so if you are curious to know more, check the following interview.
Q1: First of all, thank you for the opportunity. Raksasi is an interesting take on both souls-like and rogue-like RPGs. How the idea behind this project was born?
A1: Devil Slayer Raksasi is inspired by the Souls-like games a lot while we are all big fans of this genre. The early prototype is just a simple top-down action game demo with a souls-like style combat system. Since we are worried if the core mechanism is too simple and a pure souls-like game made by a small team will lack enough game contents, we consider incorporating Roguelike elements to increase the lifespan.
Q2: From the art-style to the gameplay, Raksasi is an interesting production. Which other games influenced your work while developing Raksasi?
A2: We try our best to make our own unique game by standing on the shoulders of giants, and you may find some familiar designs and systems in Raksasi from these great titles: Souls, The Binding of Isaac, Dead Cells, Darkwood, Blade & Sword.
Q3: The art-style is really well characterised and unique, especially the portraits of the main characters and the bosses. Why did you decide to use this particular aesthetic for Raksasi?
A3: The reason is very simple, there is no other choice! because we are a very small team, the only artist in our 3-man development team chooses his own style to create all the artworks. Our artist’s early style was influenced by the Japanese anime he watched in his childhood, but he always had his own unique pursuit and did not follow the trend blindly. Therefore, the final art effect is very likely to be quite different from the current popular and most popular styles and colors and is also more recognizable.
Q4: From the setting to the design of the enemies, the influence of Chinese culture are evident in Raksasi. How Chinese traditions and legends influenced the world of Raksasi?
A4: It’s cool to create a game with the Chinese culture we are familiar with. We did look at a lot of historical and mythological materials, and take many elements and characters from them to build the world. We hope these designs can cause the most common popular culture aesthetic and emotional resonance among Chinese and foreigners are interested in Chinese culture.
Q5: The main heroines got particularly popular, both for their gorgeous design and for their peculiar weapons. How was the creative process behind the creation of each new main character?
A5: While designing our character artwork, the artist’s first goal is to meet the functional needs in the basic scheme, “it should work well as the plan”, such as the native weapons, race, and so on. After that, these characters will be given different personalities. According to these personalities, the artist will select the appropriate color scheme, decorative style, facial features, etc…Then, Bingo, who is responsible for the stories, will refine the character’s background information based on enough existing visual elements as well as the artist’s markup. Basically, all the characters are formed after everyone collides with each other’s ideas.
Q6: A pale kid, a creepy blind woman, and a giant masked-man: the merchants and the secondary characters of Raksasi are really mysterious. Could you tell us something more about the backgrounds of some of these characters?
A6: The pale kid’s name is Jubilant Altar. He looks like a little child in a wine jar, but actually, he is not a human. The ancient Chinese believed that all things have spirits. An artifact will give birth to wisdom over the years and become a human-like creature with supernatural powers, that is, the “devil” in the title name of this game. Jubilant Altar is a “devil” turned by a wine jar. He’s the warehouse manager, and his biggest preference is to collect all kinds of treasures and organize them every day. And the idea comes from a Chinese movie, The Miracle Fighters. The creepy blind woman’s name is Raven. You may think her look reminds of Frankenstein a lot, and yep, it’s very similar. Her body is just a puppet created by the ancient gods, but she has a real human soul inside the body. As long as there is energy, she can live forever. Through countless years, she has accumulated a wealth of knowledge. The merchant, Baldwyn, is a fat guy with a mask, who is a member of a large and mysterious organization that operates many wilderness stores, selling secret treasures to adventurers. Many people think they are not just a purely commercial organization.
Q7: Between so many dangerous enemies to face, which are your favourite bosses and why?
A7: Haha, we love all of them. For example, the five immortals are all mysterious, powerful, and highly individual: The rat boss, Gray Immortal, has countless henchmen, hiding in the forest, brewing some kind of conspiracy. The snake boss, Willow Immortal, has a white Snake and a green Snake as partners, and they are from a familiar story to the Chinese called Madam White Snake. The weasel boss, Yellow Immortal, who is an old man addicted to drug research often picks medicines in the deep mountains. The hedgehog boss, White Immortal, is obsessed with fighting and always looking for powerful opponents. The fox boss, Fox Immortal, who is the noble and beautiful king of the foxes can confuse people’s minds. The ideas are from some folklores of Northeastern China influenced by Shamanism a lot.
Q8: The game is still in Early Access (EA) but got many conspicuous updates in the last year. Do you have some surprises or clues of what will be the next contents available before the final release? Maybe some clues about new bosses?
A8: We will continue to announce our upcoming new content in our steam community. We are always trying to add richer and more interesting content to our game. Soon, the game will have a new update, which adds new map Sea Caverns, and new bosses, as well as a very fun challenge mode.
Q9: Which were the elements that changed more during the EA period?
A9: In the EA phase, we’ve added a lot of new content, such as new difficulty modes, a wooden tablet system, and a Soul charms system. In the process, a lot of new bosses, maps, characters, weapons, and props have also been added. The difficulty system is one of the more important mechanisms, the easy difficulty can be adapted to more users, and the new high difficult mode called Demonic can provide a more interesting challenge for these game masters.
Q10: Of course, I imagine that finishing Raksasi is your priority right now, but I am curious, are you already thinking of your next project? Maybe a sequel of Raksasi?
A10: Yes, we have some ideas about the next title, and we are doing some preparation work now. But there are a lot of things that are not determined and take longer to explore. So it’s too early to determine what the next game will be like.
I would like to thank Glasses Cat Games for their quick responses and the interesting answers. It is really fascinating to know more on how the Chinese traditions influenced this interesting dark fantasy world, and I cannot wait to face the new creatures in the future update of the Sea Caverns. Even if it still in EA, Raksasi already got >1200 reviews with an overall “Very Positive” grade on STEAM, so if you want to check it, the game is available HERE. Also keep an eye on Dark RPGs for a future article about the Chinese-influenced bestiary of Raksasi.
The sun shines high in the sky, the grass is green, the new neighbours look really friendly, and the town smells of cake. What could go wrong? Sometimes a lot of things, especially if you are unlucky enough to finish in a Town with a Dark Secret. This trope is quite well explored in horror […]