...it's because these games are so ugly that they're so effective – they're genuinely spooky in a way that just wouldn't work with clearer, more definite graphics. Everything blends into everything else and is only really distinguishable through the parallax motion; it mimics the limited visibility of night, the uncertainty that can make it frightening, surprisingly well. And the monsters you fight are as butt-ugly as they deserve to be, blocky as a brick wall and animated with the grace of a seizure. Best of all, your attacks are accompanied with gory spouts of monster blood, and if the monsters get you, they show off individual "fatalities" nearly a decade before Mortal Kombat
. It's a blast.
I included screenshots for convenience, but these games really have to be seen in motion
to be appreciated. Someone put together a nice highlight reel
of the monsters' attacks, but the sound is weird and tinny; I recommend watching (and hearing) the other footage first to get a better sense of the atmosphere.
In some ways, it's so ahead of its time, that it feels like a modern indie title. Except when modern indie developers do it, they can't help but reveal their hands as artists.
Which isn't a bad thing, at all. There's never been so much visual diversity before.
But still, aesthetically, this game's just playing too nice with my senses, to ever feel dangerous. And I'd feel the same way, if any of those pixels were actually trying to kill me.
Have you ever seen LSD Simulator? It's just a walking simulator from the 90's, but nobody ever complained, because the bizarre and mostly terrible graphics did such a great job of making people uncomfortable.