IMSCARED: A Pixelated Nightmare

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IMSCARED game steam banner

ConsolePC
DeveloperIvan Zanotti’s MyMadness Works
PublisherIvan Zanotti’s MyMadness Works
GenreSurvival horror, experimental
Release Year2016
Purchase (PC)Click here to purchase from Steam.

I actually played the freeware version of IMSCARED maybe… three or four years back? I did remember enjoying it too, despite its short length, so I was pleasantly surprised that it became a full-fledged game on Steam years later.

For those who have never heard of it, IMSCARED is an experimental pixelated horror game made by an Italian developer that attempts to simulate the premise of a “haunted game,” like the kinds you read that were featured in creepypasta stories. It’s a game that was popular with the horror Let’s Play community, publicized by PewdiePie, Markiplier, and jacksepticeye among others.

The game is something you would definitely call a novelty, but certainly one that is best to experience for yourself. What is it that makes this little project so eerie?

 

The Melancholy of White Face and HER

IMSCARED: A Pixelated Nightmare gameplay

IMSCARED starts you off in a very low-res 3D environment, with low drawing distances and stock sound effects. Doesn’t look like anything special. In fact, it’s quite primitive. But then you realize that something is off about the game…

IMSCARED: A Pixelated Nightmare blue screen of death
Did that really just happen?

Or what about instances of the game glitching out or just outright crashing? Well, you can thank this thing.

IMSCARED: A Pixelated Nightmare White Face
lol hello

Meet White Face—what a name, right? It’s a sadistic entity that stalks you throughout your playthrough. To put it mildly, this odd creature likes to fuck with you, for it controls the world of IMSCARED itself. And also, it can make your computer do weird things.

IMSCARED: A Pixelated Nightmare text files
Like creating .txt files telling you what to do next! Oh, the horror!

Yeah, it sounds silly. But trust me when I say that it can be rather startling when you see weird folders pop up on your desktop, with cryptic messages implying that your computer got haunted by some creepy entity.

A little trivia: White Face makes a special appearance in Spooky’s Jump Scare Mansion as Unknown Specimen 1, since the developers liked each other’s games. That’s pretty cool.

And also, I would like to introduce HER. She looks a bit like White Face, only with a woman’s body.

IMSCARED: A Pixelated Nightmare HER
Heeeey, big boy. Want me to show you something breathtaking?

But as you play along, you also receive messages from yet another entity, via .html files.

IMSCARED: A Pixelated Nightmare html page

All of this gives you the impression that IMSCARED is self-aware and that it’s directly communicating to YOU, the player. And yes, it’s freaky. Imagine the game crashing, then your web browser suddenly launches with a web page or a YouTube video. It can get pretty unnerving.

The core gameplay of IMSCARED is that you’re exploring eerie places while collecting items to make progress. Pretty standard for 3D indie horror titles. But what makes IMSCARED unique is its intentionally minimalist art style and its puzzles.

IMSCARED: A Pixelated Nightmare gameplay

Solving these puzzles may require you to consult the .txt and .html files provided to you. Sometimes, you even have to change the content of the files to make progress. There’s even one point where you had to change your computer’s clock to get a collectible. Now that’s creative.

Whiteface is an entity that plays various tricks on you, sometimes even sealing obvious exit points. Therefore, you must use your own tricks to defeat it. It’s about thinking outside of the box, away from conventional solutions.

IMSCARED: A Pixelated Nightmare gameplay

Even though IMSCARED has a very low polygon count overall, it still managed to show some pretty unnerving imagery. For example, White Face may look goofy at first, but its face can get distorted at different points of the playthrough. There is also a noticeable amount of body horror throughout.

But probably the best part of IMSCARED (or lack thereof) is its sound design. There are a few moments where there is music or ambiance, but even the smaller sound effects can get rather unnerving. High-pitched noises with low bitrates, glitchy sounds and plenty of white noise.

There’s not really much else I can say here. While there isn’t a story per say, the events and dialogue of the game serve to tell an open-ended backstory  To access the last portion of the game, you have to obtain all of the Steam achievements, which will allow you to access two different endings. And both of them raise quite a few questions, with even the “good” ending leaving a bitter taste in your mouth. For the majority of the game, it’s best to experience it yourself and make your own judgments.

While IMSCARED may not outright scare you, it managed to pull off a creepy atmosphere using minimal assets and a good degree of creativity. And sometimes, it’s enough to satisfy those looking for a short game to complete. So if you’re into unorthodox games like this, then IMSCARED may be for you.

IMSCARED

$3.99
IMSCARED
8.5

GAMEPLAY

8.5/10

GRAPHICS

8.0/10

SOUNDTRACK

9.0/10

Pros

  • Unique puzzles that involve using ..txt/.html files. May also involve changing your computer's settings or editing script.
  • Minimalist graphics that manage to simulate creepy imagery.
  • Minimalist sound design that can still make you feel unnerved, especially with headphones on.
  • Open-ended backstory up to interpretation.

Cons

  • Really short. Probably around two hours of playtime for the first run.
  • Forces you to obtain all achievements to reach the endings, some of which are very easy to miss without a walkthrough.
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