I mentioned in my Day 1 review of World of Horror that it is a fairly unique, well done game that has the potential to become something truly special. After playing it for a few more hours following some updates, my opinion is more or less unchanged. Some QoL additions have been made, more difficulty modes have been added (a very nice touch), a new character, and a few other small additions have been made here and there, but the game has largely remained unchanged since its release in February.
World of Horror is a point and click rogue-lite RPG where you have to solve various mysteries in town to stop an eldritch being from crossing over into our world. As of right now, there are four potential deities that you can square up against, including a giant spider, a fire god, and a gigantic eyeball. Each one has some sort of permanent effect on a given playthrough (the spider prevents escape in battles while the fire god causes both you and enemies to do more damage to each other).
Then there are the backstories, which have finally been added, which give you yet another permanent wrinkle to deal with. Currently, I’ve unlocked a backstory where you start with healing supplies (and they’re much cheaper to buy), but each attack has the potential to add some kind of debuff to your character.
This is on top of the several playable characters, each of whom is stronger in one stat and weaker in another than all the rest. My favorite character, a swimmer, has good dexterity, meaning she can work her way out of tricky situations easily. Another one, a pop idol, has high charisma, which means gaining followers is easier for her.
Suffice it to say between the ten(?) mysteries that can appear, and the hundreds of little incidents that can occur during those investigations, on top of the many characters and different deities and back stories, there’s no shortage of reasons to replay World of Horror. For me, though, the biggest issue is the mysteries. At this point, I believe I’ve seen them all (you used to be able to keep track of which endings to the mysteries you’ve gotten, but I haven’t been able to find a way to access that information again), and there are some really cool tales that undoubtedly take inspiration from urban legends, like one involving Aka Manto, a mysterious figure cloaked in red that haunts the restrooms of closed school buildings (turns out, this is a popular urban legend in Japan-not only is there a rather extensive Wikipedia page about it, but there’s even a chilling lofi horror game on Steam about it as well). Each investigation boils down to navigating menus to investigate different locations, with narrative developments in between, but they’re uniquely twisted in a way that only J-horror can be.
Having done a few playthroughs now, I have noticed some balancing issues. Character builds that aren’t focused on combat will almost always be at a disadvantage, since random incidents and mysteries almost always involve combat of some kind. Granted, there are ways around it, such as using different prayer combinations to fight ghosts, but despite the random encounters, you will pretty much always be fighting something in a given playthrough. Meanwhile, stats like Perception and Knowledge are only useful in very specific random incidents (like if you need to find something in the dark to prevent damage). It puts certain characters at a serious disadvantage compared to others. I’d like to see some non-combat solutions pop up in the future.
Rogue-likes live and die based off how replayable they are. Binding of Isaac has an absolutely overwhelming amount of content for players to unlock. Items, characters, levels, bosses, and even game modes all feed into the game’s extreme replayability, leading to something that will still feel as fresh on round 100 as it did in round 1. Right now, World of Horror has plenty of great ideas and a generous host of unlockables for players to obtain, and plenty of options that can be tweaked to give each playthrough a distinct feeling. However, it’s tough to get around the fact that there are so few mysteries available for players to solve. I believe I’ve seen every one at this point, and I haven’t gotten every ending for them all, but it still feels limited compared to other genre greats like the aforementioned Isaac, Enter the Gungeon, Risk of Rain, and Darkest Dungeon. Developer panstasz has crafted something wildly unique, with great visuals and sound backing up the horrific themes of the story and well-tuned gameplay that strikes a good balance between RNG and player input. And the content on offer is undeniably fun to play through, too. The biggest determining factor for whether or not the game is worth it at this point is if you can overlook the relatively small amount of stories on offer.
As it stands, World of Horror is a unique and compelling mixture of rogue-likes, RPGs, and point and click adventures, all wrapped up neatly in a Lovecraftian horror-themed bow. At the risk of sounding repetitive, there’s still room for it to grow, and grow it will, I think. It’s still technically in Early Access, which means you could be reading this article a month from its publication date and everything I’ve said could be wrong. I look forward to seeing the game grow into a fully realized rogue-like that stands tall with the genre greats. Right now, it’s a thoroughly enjoyable twist on the genre that could be even better than it already is.
World of Horror is now available on Steam.