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14 Best Horror RPG Maker Games

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  • Posted on 08th Apr, 2022 14:55 PM
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Some of the most creative horror games have been made with RPG Maker. These are among the best ones you can play.

p>When the time comes to make a game, there are many available tools. Unity, Source, Twine, and other engines allow designers to craft all manner of virtual worlds, from the most welcoming to the most inhospitable. Horror can mean blood and gore rendered with the highest fidelity or psychological thrills with nary a graphic.

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Since the original's debut in 1992, RPG Maker has served as the catalyst for many games. Indie developers of all stripes have leveraged its user-friendly toolset to craft stories of terror and revulsion. Indeed, it is this very toolset that has made some of the horror genre's greatest and most intriguing achievements possible.

Updated April 1, 2022 by Patrick Armstrong: There's something about retro games that keep players coming back. For some, it's nostalgia: games with simpler graphics and mechanics remind them of when every game looked and played that way. Others feel that simpler graphics allows the players to imagine more, allowing them to fill in the blanks like a good novel.

RPG Maker has long been one of the go-to tool kits for crafting cleaner, simpler stories. When it comes to horror, however, the pared-back graphics don't make the frights less frightful or the nightmares any fewer. RPG Maker is more than capable of disturbing its audience, as these games prove.

14 Space Funeral

The vibe of Space Funeral is unnerving in a quiet, almost soothing way, like waiting out the end of the world on a pristine beach. Its laidback soundtrack is a huge factor, and its contrast with the surreal dialog is sublime. The aesthetic is ugly in a cartoony way, with bloody skulls and malformed creatures dotting the landscape.

Dracula, hypnosis, swamp knights, and muscle hedonists are only a few of the bizarre threats one faces within. Space Funeral is several steps quirkier than most horror titles, and that is strictly to its benefit. Here, the weirdness works.

13 Pocket Mirror

Created using RPG MAKER VX ACE, Pocket Mirror is a horror game in which symbolism is paramount. Because of this, those looking for a straightforward game with a simple A-to-B plot should look elsewhere. For everyone else, Pocket Mirror is a nightmare in the best way.

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Almost everything within is subject to interpretation. In some games, ambiguity is the result of laziness, of game designers not knowing what end result they're trying to achieve, but in this game delving into symbols for their true meaning is half the point. With original artwork, an original soundtrack, and visual novel elements, Pocket Mirror goes above and beyond most RPG Maker titles.

12 Ouija Sleepover

Aiden is a 19-year-old college student. His crush, Dan, is coming over for movie night. That's when Aiden finds the Ouija board someone left in the garbage. Anyone who has ever seen a horror movie knows that this discovery does not bode well for Aiden and Dan. Like the best horror games, Ouija Sleepover takes its premise and dials it up a notch at every turn.

Its world looks soft as if viewed through stained cotton, but that doesn't make the horrors that transpire within any easier to bear. With multiple endings and interesting characters, Ouija Sleepover gives players a few good reasons to stay up into the early hours.

11 Why Do You Do This To Me?

How good can a game made in five hours be? The answer is: fantastic. The creators of Why Do You Do This To Me? made the game for the 2nd RPG Maker Game of the Month Jam using RPG Maker MV and have been expanding on it since then.

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The design, programming, charming pixel art, and solid music are all the products of a single creator, leading to a consistent and powerful vision. Without spoiling anything, the game is thematically dark in ways that many aren't. It also happens to be cleverer than most.

10 Yume Nikki

The imagination can be a terrible thing, and when the imagination is that of a child, it can be as confusing as it is sinister. Yume Nikki is a surreal exploration into the titular character's head, beginning when the player goes to sleep and snapping back to reality whenever they pinch themselves awake.

The excellent sound design beautifully complements the game's avant-garde style, and this is certainly not an indie game that takes a long time to beat. Rather than compromise itself by leaning upon a convoluted plot, Yume Nikki leaves much to the player's interpretation. Just as it should be with dreams and nightmares, sometimes it is better not to analyze.

9 Blank Dream

Kanawo's Blank Dream has multiple endings, so despite it being an RPG with a short playthrough time, players may wish to linger in its world. The game deals with heavy subject matter, including suicide, so it isn't for everyone, but creative puzzles, justified scares, and a twisty plot earn this game its place amongst the genre's greats.

Mishiro Usui's quest to recover her memories of the events leading to her death is well-paced, and Blank Dream is one of the rare games that can explore difficult emotional issues without condescending to or manipulating its audience. In Blank Dream, heartbreak and horror make the best bedfellows.

8 The Crooked Man

Moving into a new home is a beloved horror trope, and The Crooked Man wields it to beautiful effect. David Hoover moves into his new apartment only to discover that the building may be haunted. Not the type to let an apparition go uninvestigated, David sets out to solve the mystery, setting himself up for a series of escalating scares.

His repeated encounters with the Crooked Man himself do not dissuade him, even as the situation grows bleaker. The Crooked Man is the first installment of The Strange Men Anthology, a four-game collection, and is arguably the best of the lot, though The Sandman, The Boogie Man, and The Hanged Man are all worth a play, even if they are not major indie success stories.

7 Dreaming Mary

If horror games have an aesthetic opposite, it's Dreaming Mary. Everything about its pink, kawaii look says everything is fine, but nothing is. An excellent casual RPG, Dreaming Mary is angsty and riddled with secrets without being too antagonistic. Unraveling its mysteries requires a fair bit of exploration and deduction, and its puzzles are more inventive than most.

Mary loves to dream, but one night enters a dream unlike any before it: everyone is nice to her. When her dream friends invite her deeper into slumber, Mary is faced with a choice: explore the depths of this strange new world or wake up and go back to her ordinary life. One can't say much about the twists without spoiling the story but suffice it to say that it is absolutely not a game for children, and even some adults should be wary of its distressing subject matter.

6 Corpse Party

Whether horror requires graphic violence, and if so how much, has always been a point of contention within the genre. As Corpse Party proves, 16-bit graphics can do just as well as a Resident Evil Chainsaw Man decapitation to put players off their lunch.

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Strong music supports a story in which, like Game of Thrones, the narrative seems to foster affection for characters for the sake of breaking the player's heart when those characters are viciously murdered later. Satoshi, Naomi, Yoshiki, Ayumi, and Yuka are all entertaining on their own but come alive as a group, and seeing how their journey will end is one of Corpse Party's greatest pleasures.

5 Ib

Art galleries don't scream "danger," but in Ib danger is just what they contain. Kouri's 2012 title tells the story of nine-year-old Ib who is trapped in a painting during a visit to one such gallery and must find a way to escape.

Like Silent Hill and others before it, Ib excels in jumpscares, puzzle-solving, and exploration. Where Ib triumphs over other great indie horror games is in its fine-tuning. Kouri's meticulous development pays off at every step. The scares are not cheap. The characters are not tropes. Everything the game accomplishes it earns. The enigmatic Garry is a particular highlight, keeping players guessing for their entire journey through the dark.

4 Misao

Friendship is hard. Friendship is even harder when the person you want to be friends with vanishes. When Misao disappears and rumors start circulating around school about what might have befallen her, the protagonist sets out to discover the truth. The game takes the time to craft unique backstories for its characters, giving players every reason to learn more about them, and keeping characters from being cardboard cutouts with dialog.

Is Misao one of the best offline PC RPGs? At least when it comes to horror RPG Maker titles, yes. The game is not without flaws, but Misao is more successful at sustaining a disconcerting atmosphere than most titles in the genre. Players are encouraged not to spoil the story for themselves. The blind jump is the better one.

3 Stray Cat Crossing

Stray Cat Crossing wears its inspirations with pride. One cannot play it without feeling echoes of Alice in Wonderland and Studio Ghibli. With playthroughs lasting between 2-4 hours, Stray Cat Crossing is the perfect length to luxuriate in its offkey ambiance and mingle with its kooky cast.

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Stray Cat Crossing is the story of a young woman who lends a little girl her favorite scarf and must enter a forboding house when the girl fails to return it, only to be confronted by its strange and monstrous inhabitants. Its 16-bit art harkens back to the first two Persona games, and its story makes it a must-play for fans of the genre.

2 Off

In Off, everything is a little...off. Epic hero? No, players are treated as a supernatural entity in possession of a figure called the Batter. Conventional combat? No, players do battle with real-time mechanics instead of the turn-based ones favored by most RPG Maker titles.

The character designs and general art style would be at home in any Tim Burton sketchbook: endearing and creepy in equal measure. Off may not be counted amongst the best RPG Maker games ever, but it ranks amongst the most delightfully weird, and for anyone looking for a great horror adventure, Off is a top contender.

1 Omori

By now something of a legend within the indie horror community, 2020's Omori is one of RPG Maker's greatest success stories. It pulls no punches with its themes, tackling anxiety and depression respectfully but head-on through the character of Sunny, a boy with severe social anxiety.

Yet Sunny has another self, Omori, who exists in his dreams. Its painterly graphics set it apart from superficially similar titles, and its aesthetic is without question Omori's greatest strength, together with its nuanced characterization. Here one finds characters given all the room they need to breathe and develop, and the game is undoubtedly stronger for it.

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