Imscared – A Unending Pixelated Nightmare

imscared. Burn this image into your brain because it's all you're going to be seeing tonight.
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“There is a way to turn an entity into data. They have a life of their own, and it is difficult to distinguish them from normal computer files. In our actions of everyday, while we sit at the computer, this byte entity observes us, and studies our every move and fear.

“The game is simple: following the arrows is the key, if you get caught you lose.
A sound will predict its arrival.

“It is White Face”

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Ivan Zanotti’s indie horror Imscared – A Pixelated Nightmare has a pretty cute name for a game that tells you from the onset that it ‘will try to deceive you.’ Wait what? Oh you heard me right, Imscared has only one mission, and its to terrify, puzzle, and force you to ask yourself for the 99th time ‘what the f$^&% is that sound?!’ Despite it’s simple appearance graphic-wise, this first person psychological horror pulls no punches when it comes to making sure you double-check every narrow corridor you come across, and definitely teaches those other uppity horror games that terror doesn’t have to be flashy.

Imscared is a first-person exploration game. It is many things, but one thing it is not is fun. I mean didn’t you see that white face up there? Does that look like the face of mercy to you?! 

You spend a majority of the game wandering through narrow corridors and small rooms, both claustrophobic enough to make you slightly nauseous, combined with a small enough field of view so that you don’t even get the option of punking out and turning tail.

The title is quite pixellated, which instead of nullifying most of the horror (because hey pixels are cute right?) only seems to magnify it,  and everything being cast in ominous shadow means that virtually nothing is easy to make out.

The graphics are basic with a fairly low resolution, but the game isn’t about that- it’s about immersion.I was overcome with a prevailing sense of doom as I searched the darkness around me, and an even greater feeling that I was the only one in the entire world playing this game. Imscared plays like a secret kept under your covers, wondering if there’s a monster under your bed.

And so it begins…

You start in a room with an Exit door. When you try to exit, it states that “You need a heart to go through.”

You’re pretty much stranded in the room until you find a key and open a bloodied wardrobe…which reveals a secret passageway. Of course, you have no choice but towards and descend the ladder into darkness. I mean you want to get out of that room right? So head on down! But of course no one told you that going down there only awakens…it.

What makes Imscared a psychological masterpiece isn’t creeping around in the darkness with a claustrophobic first-person view. Nor is it the heavy ambient sounds that make you horrified by everything you see and don’t see. It’s what happens outside of the game.

Remember the fourth wall? You know the one that should normally go unbreached? Imscared knocks that thing down with a sledge hammer and then dances in the rubble.

In most horror games the player controls a separate in-game character, which serves as a buffer between the game and the player. In this case there is no “character.” For all intent and purpose it’s just you and the game. It’s you walking through those cold grey corridors, its you fiddling with locked doors and wandering blindly through dark rooms. And it’s you getting strange cryptic messages and images in the game’s folder. And even when you shut off the game, even when its over- it doesn’t completely feel like it’s over.

“Whiteface” leaves you eerie messages and pictures to find, with the game’s many ‘crashes’ resulting in more cryptic clues and images being left behind. And wait- when did I open this web browser? Wasn’t I just playing a game? Wait what is that? What’s- OH MY GOD!

Imscared leaves you with the haunting suspicion that you’ve just awoken a horrific soulless nightmare of a virus that never leaves your computer. And it wants to play tag with you. Obviously this does not bode well.

Download Imscared here.

Imscared – A Unending Pixelated Nightmare
imscared. Burn this image into your brain because it's all you're going to be seeing tonight.

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