I don't know if you've heard but game demos are back, baby. Last year, the indie scene of developers making spooky games with PlayStation-era graphics put together a free anthology of 17 ominous oddities called the Haunted PS1 Demo Disc. Its creators are returning from the land of wobbling textures and giant polygons with a sequel, the Haunted PS1 Demo Disc 2021, which will contain 25 demos for upcoming retro games with low-fi art.
As with last year, it won't be a real, physical disc, but instead a bundle of Windows executables accessed via a launcher with a UI reminiscent of the olden times. Among this year's inclusions are Agony of a Dying MMO, "a narrative horror game that takes place in the final hours of a massively multiplayer online game before its servers shut down for good", The Lunar Effect, a fixed-camera horror game in the Resident Evil/Silent Hill/Alone in the Dark style in which you have to solve puzzles to escape a mansion, and tmOD, a "Cursed love letter/demake on classic gmod and the hl2 modding scene".
The skeleton who I assume is in charge of things isn't too strict about definitions, as the FAQ explains, saying that "not every game has to be 3D or have the particular visual quirks of any specific hardware. In a similar way we do not require the games to have a strict horror theme, instead they can be atmospheric, have a slight unnerving twist or even just feel so of the era that we can't resist loving them and wanting them in the collection."
Though planned for release on March 24, the Haunted PS1 Demo Disc 2021 has been held back for a day "for the sake of our developers wellbeing".
It will include playable demos of these 25 games:
- [ECHOSTASIS], by ENIGMA
- Agony of a Dying MMO, by Salem Hughes
- An Outcry, by Quinn K.
- Apolysis, by From Dusk Till Dawn
- Chasing Static, by Headware Games
- Fiend's Isle, by Ian Williams
- Ghastly Goodies, by Cyreides
- JANITOR BLEEDS, by Korpus
- Lorn's Lure, by Rubeki
- Loveland, by DevHour Games
- Mummy Sandbox, by z_bill
- Pathogen-X, by sodaraptor
- Peeb Adventures, by Johnny
- Protagoras Bleeds, by Bryce Bucher
- Risu, by Ryan Trawick
- Still Ridge, by Justen "Jaybee" Brown
- That Which Gave Chase, by Aslak Karlsen Hauglid
- The Chameleon, by Antonio Freyre
- The Drowning Machine, by Aidan Cushing
- The Heilwald Loophole, by Jan Malitschek
- The Lunar Effect, by Negative Entities
- The Salt Order, by Khamelot
- tmOD, by Tobias Mihura
- Toree 3D, by SIACTRO
- 散歩 – Walk, by Kazumi Games
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Jody's first computer was a Commodore 64, so he remembers having to use a code wheel to play Pool of Radiance. A former music journalist who interviewed everyone from Giorgio Moroder to Trent Reznor, Jody also co-hosted Australia's first radio show about videogames, Zed Games. He's written for Rock Paper Shotgun, The Big Issue, GamesRadar, Zam, Glixel, Five Out of Ten Magazine, and Playboy.com, whose cheques with the bunny logo made for fun conversations at the bank. Jody's first article for PC Gamer was about the audio of Alien Isolation, published in 2015, and since then he's written about why Silent Hill belongs on PC, why Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale is the best fantasy shopkeeper tycoon game, and how weird Lost Ark can get. Jody edited PC Gamer Indie from 2017 to 2018, and he eventually lived up to his promise to play every Warhammer videogame.