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.

The Mist

The Mist

The Mist is a Game Boy horror adventure game based on Cthulhu mythos and inspired by the 2019 movie The Lighthouse. Despite only consisting of about twenty side-scrolling screens, it’s an intricate game that takes around 40 to 45 minutes to finish.

You play as an old man sent to maintain an isolated lighthouse for two months. Your job is simple: keep the light at the top of the tower going, maintain the chapel, and don’t try to look for the body of the previous lighthouse keeper.

This potential gameplay loop is quickly interrupted when your character starts having strange dreams involving a sea monster calling him “son” and asking him to return to the ocean. Your character’s dreams become progressively stranger, and what you end up doing is completely neglecting the lighthouse as you poke around the tower to satisfy his curiosity.

About halfway through the game, you begin to navigate dream sequences as well as the waking world, and these dreams are a lot of fun. There are no jumpscares in the dreams, but there are a few (excellent) monster animations that you’re forced to watch become progressively more disturbing. In addition to the in-game cutscenes, there are about two dozen illustrations for longer conversations and reading passages. The pixel art in this game is wonderful, especially given the graphic limitations.

The Mist includes a few puzzle sequences, but these sequences mainly consist of figuring out what you need to do next. Given that your range of motion is limited, these “puzzles” can be solved by process of elimination. There’s one puzzle about thirty minutes into the game that might be a little frustrating, but the creator has embedded a full playthrough video in the game’s page on Itchio if you get stuck.

The creator of The Mist is French, which means two things. First, their English is a little off, but it’s off in a way that makes sense in French and is still completely comprehensible to English speakers. Second, their concept of Christianity is extremely Catholic, and it was amusing to me to imagine a grizzled New Englander consecrating an altar with wine and praying to various saints. It’s always interesting to see how other cultures interpret the Cthulhu mythos, and I unironically loved this.

The Mist loses its footing for a bit in the middle – especially around the puzzle I mentioned earlier – but it’s a neat piece of storytelling that creates an immersive environment at a slow but steady pace. Even if you’re not a Lovecraft fan, The Mist is an interesting and atmospheric game about slowly losing your mind on the fragile shell of land suspended above the massive horrors of the watery depths.

It’s Not Me, It’s My Basement

It’s Not Me, It’s My Basement

It’s Not Me, It’s My Basement is an RPG Maker gothic horror game from 2021 along the lines of The Witch’s House and Mad Father. It takes about 35 minutes to finish, and it’s free to download from Itchio.

You play as a kid named Embry whose parents have been eaten by monsters. Embry has managed to padlock the basement door, but the monsters are constantly hungry. The player is therefore tasked with feeding the monsters so they don’t escape and eat Embry. The game consists of navigating between Embry’s kitchen and the town market while stopping at the basement door a few times along the way.

The story is divided into three days, during which food becomes progressively scarce and the monsters become increasingly hungry. Each night, after feeding the monsters, Embry has a dream. All three dreams end with an extremely mild jumpscare, but the game is more concerned with creating an oppressive atmosphere than it is with trying to shock you.

What I appreciate is that it’s unclear what the monsters are or where they came from, just as it’s occasionally unclear what Embry is feeding them. Although you have the choice to enter the basement in one of Embry’s dreams, you never learn exactly what’s going on down there, and sometimes not knowing is worse.

If you’re worried that I just spoiled the game, please don’t be. There’s a lot going on here.

The creator has a few shorter games available on Itchio, some of which are loosely connected through a shared universe. The reason I chose to play It’s Not Me, It’s My Basement is because this game has a surprisingly large online fandom. Seriously, it even has its own page on TV Tropes (here).

It’s Not Me, It’s My Basement feels a bit like Homestuck run through a few filters. Everything about this game is catnip for edgy tweens. Even if that doesn’t sound appealing to you, It’s Not Me, It’s My Basement presents an interesting and open-ended story, and the game is a fun experience that doesn’t bother the player with any puzzle elements that impede the flow – or the steadily mounting creepiness – of the delivery.