There's a free Goya-themed horror game and someone's definitely eating their son

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Hell yeah, friends, it's time for some art history with PC Gamer! Impasto is a horror game by student designers out of USC Games, the University of Southern California's game design school, and it's inspired by one of the greatest painters of all time: Francisco Goya. It's named after the technique he used extensively, Impasto, of thickly-laid and textured paint which gives paintings physical depth.

If you already know what that is and what it means then all I need to give you is a link: Impasto is on Steam and completely free. (opens in new tab)

The action of the game revolves around the particular horrors that live on in Francisco Goya's legacy, and the paintings left behind by his increasingly fragmenting mental state. Using a mixture of exploration, stealth, and your own wits you'll have to navigate the dark walls of his hometown and paintings, all rendered after Goya's own signature style, to find an end to a letter you've received and the mystery it entails.

It's phenomenal for a student work, well-conceived and executed. Goya's story is one of particular resonance. He saw horrors in his lifetime, and the especially bleak period which saw the creation of Goya's Black Paintings (opens in new tab) is a superb basis for a supernatural horror game. There are things in those paintings nobody would like to see come to life.

For example, Saturn Devouring His Son (opens in new tab). For all that it's a modern meme (opens in new tab), the painting remains a deeply upsetting and visually confronting image taken out of Greek Myth and rendered in a particularly gruesome style by someone who'd definitely seen a dismembered corpse in the previous decade's conflict visited upon the Iberian peninsula during the Napoleonic wars.

Francisco Goya was a Spanish painter during the late 18th and early 19th centuries, and eventually became the court painter to the Spanish crown. He became deaf in 1793, but lived through the Napoleonic wars and died in 1828. His paintings are increasingly dark and troubled over the course of his life, and his prints and sketches depict with unrelenting honesty the horrors of warfare. His paintings are considered national treasures in Spain, and I'm inclined to agree.

You should probably go read about Goya now and then play Impasto on Steam. (opens in new tab)

Jon Bolding is a games writer and critic with an extensive background in strategy games. When he's not on his PC, he can be found playing every tabletop game under the sun.