Deadeus is a retro Game Boy horror adventure game in which you have three days before the apocalypse. If you play the game straight, you quietly enjoy your remaining time in your small seaside town before climbing a scenic hilltop to watch the sky fall. If you discover the hidden passageway underneath the town church, however, you can join an evil cult and get the party started early.

You play as a young boy who lives with his mother. Attendance at the local school is voluntary, so you’re free to explore anywhere you like in your town, which is large but not unmanageably so. The town consists of about thirty screens (not including indoor areas), and you can pull up a map with Select if you need it. There are about forty people you can talk with, and their dialogue changes every day. There’s no time limit to these days, which end when you decide to go to bed. If you’re doing a pacifist run, it takes about twenty minutes to explore everything each day has to offer.

The premise of Deadeus is that all the town children are having bad dreams. In the first of these dreams, an eldritch horrorterror informs the children that it will manifest in three days. The town itself seems quaint and utopian; but, as you talk to people and read various documents in the library, you learn that the area has a dark history. There have been waves of unexplained disappearances, for instance, as well as a surprising number of attempted murders.  

If you want, you can steal a ceremonial knife from the town cult and attempt some murders yourself. The game subtly guides you in this direction, and this is where most of the potential gameplay lies.

Deadeus has eleven endings, and the more interesting of these endings involve killing people in specific ways. In order to get the most satisfying (by which I mean the most gruesome) ending, you need to play through the three days while collecting objects to use in a cult ritual.

Meanwhile, the most gameplay-intensive ending involves killing every single NPC in town without getting caught. Deadeus has no combat, so this is largely a matter of stealth and strategy. A few murders require you to be clever, and I enjoyed the challenge.

Still, you don’t have to hurt anyone, and the default ending of Deadeus stands on its own. I think this might actually be the ending I prefer, especially considering what you learn about yourself and your town.

If you make use of your Game Boy emulator’s Save State function, it takes about three hours to see everything there is to see in Deadeus. Some of the endings are much better than others, so I recommend consulting the list of endings (here) and following your heart. The spoiler-free town map (here) is also useful.

A lot of homebrew Game Boy horror games are rough around the edges, but Deadeus is extremely polished. The gameplay is great, the art is perfect, the writing is decent, and even the music choices are interesting. Despite the disturbing imagery, there are no jumpscares in the game, and it’s entirely up to the player how gory they want their experience to be. It’s also up to the player how much reading they want to do, and there’s a fair bit of text on offer if you’re into lore hunting.

And finally, I like how your character’s eyes seem to be bleeding throughout the entire game. Understated pixel horror is always appreciated.

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