The title, AND my feelings!
IMSCARED is a self-aware horror game created by Ivan Zanotti, an Italian solo dev going by the name of MyMadnessWorks. Originally created back in 2012, this is the 2016 version of the Game Maker horror game in which the player will navigate through a terrifying dream-like state in the hopes of… well, who really knows?
In IMSCARED, the player explores multiple environments in the hopes of escape while uncovering answers about how they got here in the first place. While exploring, a mysterious entity continues to appear in the corners of the eye, unexplained and untouchable. Perhaps that is the goal we are searching for, but we cannot say. Like many horror titles, the point is to completely unnerve the player with little details; the tension in the atmosphere, the lack of lighting, a quick flash of something unknown. The thing is, in many of these horror games the goal would be more clear cut, so why am I being so vague?
One always runs the risk of spoilers when it comes to titles of this nature, so apologies in advance. IMSCARED’s self-proclaimed ‘metahorror’ should give away the aesthetic; this is a horror game that preys on the player, not the protagonist. This entity is not just within the game per say, but is able to witness the player’s actions for what they are and wants to break them down.
To this end, the game states at the beginning that ‘it will lie to you’, and does so immediately; many of the stated facts given by the game are false, unknown ways that lead to death. Even the pause menu can be a lie, for I heard the familiar sound of a certain blanched head coming towards me while trying to type some of this entry.
Where this crosses farther in to the meta-realm is with the creation of the ‘imscared’ folder. Found on the player’s desktop, it contains files that the game creates at various times, either due to ‘crashes’ by the game or when prompted. It will contain cryptic clues on how to proceed or warnings of possible danger, with hint phrases to alter the player’s spawning location. This is how the game progresses, by manipulating the game externally thanks to the internal exploration.
Unfortunately I cannot say much else. Not only is it part of the game’s nature to lend itself to being indescribable but I’m also a big coward that is easily scared by everything. Thankfully there were gameplay videos to witness parts of the game that I couldn’t get to out of anxious fear (still scared me regardless), but my point still stands. IMSCARED created a world in which the self-aware computer could scare the player, allowing for an immersive world to be created through the manipulation of actual txt files. It’s lack of reliance on loud jump scares was a definite treat for my faint heart (still were a few though).
There may be some frustrations with the constant back and forth between text files and game if you are struggling with clues or a certain region. If you can push past those, however, then IMSCARED will definitely leave you in a state befitting the title.
It’s currently being remastered in Game Maker 2. You can check out the dev’s twitter to see the updates.
While I thought this was the end of the page, it turns out that I missed two games that appeared as software. Both were caught while writing up the software for today, and will be published tomorrow, along with the software. See ya then!