Reviews of the best indie games and horror games

Haunted PS1 Madvent Calendar 2021 Horror Games Review

The Haunted PS1 Madvent Calendar 2021 is a wonderful mix of 24 holiday and winter themed horror games. There’s a game for every day leading up to Christmas! A neat intro scene plays out with Bitey, and Gifty. Bitey sings a jolly Christmas song while Gifty interrupts because he craves blood and demands flesh. Then you open up to a nighttime scene on a snowy mountain where the main game selection is. Each game offers a unique experience, and has it’s own Madvent house design.

Once you select the game and start, an intense startup scene where you rush into the house plays. It really hyped me up for each game, and I couldn’t wait to see something new. The games are meant to be played day by day, but of course you can play ahead if you don’t want to wait. Here is my review of each game!

Day 1 – Riip

Day 1 - Riip Screenshot

In Riip, you hold the ability to literally rip through the fabric of space and time. You have to find the next rip-able space to travel through before a warped anomaly catches up to you. There’s some spots in the environment that you can tear apart and then travel through the abyss behind it to get to the next level. Some parts were frustrating, but I still enjoyed it. A few levels in I had a hard time finding the next rip because it was hard to see. It’s also easy to get lost in the bigger levels toward the end.

Day 2- Knight’s Fly

Day 2 - Knight's Fly Screenshot

Soar gracefully through a peaceful landscape. Knight’s Fly was one of my favorites. You take off into the air as a knight in armor with the ability to fly. The music and environment work well together to make it a calming but immersive experience. One thing you should know before getting all 24 normal rings is to get the 3 golden rings over top of the knight statue’s heads. It’ll make the game easier and give you the ability to fly without using the upwards wind spots.

You’ll have more than enough time to get every ring and see the ending, so take your time and check out some of the background pieces! This is one I’d definitely like to hear more story about, such as why the giant knight was falling at the end.

Day 3 – The Arrogance of Man

Day 3 - The Arrogance of Man Screenshot

In The Arrogance of Man, you’re left in a desperate situation and have to walk on foot through an intense blizzard. Your car died and all you have is your flare gun. You face certain doom, but the flares will buy you a few seconds. The feeling of desperation closes in quick as your screen frosts up and the night gets darker. It’s completely pitch black without any flares. Try to imagine being in that situation!

I’m not sure exactly how the flares are supposed to keep you warm or buy any time though. There are some emergency stations where the character mentions getting hand warmers out of them so maybe that’s what he did. If you spare enough flares and time it right, there is an alternate ending that is rather unexpected and really cements the fact luck was not on your side that day.

Day 4 – Banana Bam

Day 4 - Banana Bam Screenshot

Banana Bam is a short 3 minute fast paced game where you play as a run and gun banana. He seems pretty unhappy with all of the man eating plants about and pulls out his gun to take care of them fast. You have to keep moving and shooting to get the best ranks. I really felt the action and enjoyment of blasting up plants quickly in this game.

There was also a lot of neat Haunted PS1 Easter eggs like the gaming booths and skeleton mascot. It had some good replay value too, you can play again to find a better path to take care of the enemies quicker and achieve a higher rank.

Day 5 – Gardens of a New World

Day 5 - Gardens of a New World Screenshot

Gardens of a New World is a sort of trippy experience where you explore a warped world that makes infinite patterns of itself. I didn’t understand what was going on most of the time, but I liked the characters and the exploration. It’s clear we somehow made our way into another dimension with 2D characters that do their best to tell us about the world.

The way the sound effects play while the NPCs talk makes what they say sound intense, bold, and thrilling. The one guy near the end seems to know at least something about where you are, and blames you for getting him and yourself stuck here. After walking past here, you meet a creepy giant inter-dimensional monster that takes you away.

Day 6 – Shadow of the Elders

Day 6 - Shadow of the Elders

Shadow of the Elders is a game where you fly around in your spaceship as an alien Santa on another planet. You explore the randomly generated landscapes and pick up Christmas presents to deliver to the small alien villages. After completing each village you slowly unlock a piece of the story of their people.

You discover their planet was exploited by an outside empire for their resources called “shadow” which made them very powerful, and even gave them mind reading abilities. They moved in, built over them, and sold their resources for exorbitant prices to the wealthy and their army.

After delivering gifts to so many items and completing the story, you can fly back to the massive cities in the distance. It was a beautiful sight, despite how the stories portray the advanced civilization on their planet. There’s spaceships, and buildings towering up to the clouds. You land your ship and receive a great honor as the alien Santa.

There’s a number of glitches in the game, but you can reload in case you get stuck. My ship often got stuck in the ground where I couldn’t leave or take off. The controls also bugged out a few times. It had a great story though, and I liked the randomness with the islands and presents.

Day 7 – Pier Game

Day 7 - Pier Game

Pier Game is a short game where you take a stroll on a pier leading to a lighthouse. You use the arrow keys to wind up the fishing rod that leads you out to it. It was kind of frustrating at first, but I got the hang of it after a few play-through’s. The music fits perfectly with the scene. It’s uplifting and peaceful.

It’s a story that many can relate to. This person takes an impulse trip to the pier near the end of summer. Not wanting the warm summer to end, and fearing the cold of winter. It’s a time where many people’s mood changes and seasonal depression might kick in. Things will be alright though, the trip was a reminder that the summer will return and it’ll be okay. Just tough out the winter, or enjoy it.



BAABOSAANGJAAR might be the weirdest game on the Madvent Calendar this year. It was one of my top favorites though. It’s sort of an ARG where you play as a character watching a VHS tape of his past Christmas adventure at the mall.

The game is very descriptive with everything you do. Such as using your eyeballs to view spectacles of the past through the TV screen. Many things seem to be illegal too such as buying certain clothes from the shops. The tape does introduce itself as “Illegal Entertainment.” It describes things in such an odd but satisfying and funny way.

I enjoyed exploring the mall area though. It’s a great mix of creepy and colorful. You can also get some new shoes so you can run around! The Christmas decorations were well done too. Also, there’s no way to end the game yet. So once you’ve talked to everyone and seen everything you wanted, you can leave by using ‘Escape’ to violently violate the laws of physics.

Day 9 – Madame Claudine’s Curious Curiosities

Day 9 - Madame Claudine's Curious Curiosities

Madame Claudine’s Curious Curiosities is an N64 and Zelda inspired horror game where you arrive at Madame Claudine’s shop to buy a gift. You have no gems though, but luckily she offers to pay you in return for helping her clean up. The gift costs a steep 3000 gems, but it’s an amazing gift and I enjoyed it.

You can buy some upgrades through her old assistant that’s locked up in the back. Take a look through the crack of the door in this room to see another neat HPS1 Easter egg! I would highly recommend just getting the Pegasus Boots and Power Bracelet upgrades. The others aren’t as useful. Also, once you buy the lens of truth for 700 gems, that will begin the other ending to the game. Both endings were interesting and fulfilling!

Day 10 – JSON : VR Sandbox

Day 10 - JSON : VR Sandbox

The JSON VR Sandbox seems to be a bit of an incomplete game. The developer got sick so he ended up doing his best to make a sandbox. Some of the items don’t work at all, but the ones that do are a bit tricky. I tried quite a few things, and the instructions didn’t say anything about how to use the phone. Eventually I figured out how to use the items after asking about the game in the Discord server.

You download data from the item you want to use and upload it to what you want to trigger it. Such as download from one of the bombs to a motion sensor. It was a lot more enjoyable after I was able to use the items. You only start off with 1 bullet, but you can find packs of ammo around. One pack is enough bullets to kill all of the guards. The vending machines and soda design were neat too. They even burst open if you throw them around.

Day 11 – P.O.S.S.U.M

Day 11 - P.O.S.S.U.M

POSSUM was my favorite game because of how exceptionally beautiful it is. It nails the feeling of Christmas and peacefulness as well. From the start you get a good look at the snowy sky and magical lights of the tall buildings around you. The story is very sad though, and might bright a tear to your eye. The possum’s mother isn’t doing too well and stays asleep through the game. It’s a tough call back to reality. I myself have hope the pills that your squirrel friend gives you will help.

Touring the empty hotel lobby has a similar feeling as well. It’s lonely, yet peaceful. You can leave at any time, but there’s a few items you can pick up to give as gifts to your friends and your mother. Definitely take some time to explore around here. You pick up some sort of ID, but I don’t think it was actually used anywhere. I had a fun time going through extra dialogue and checking out every last corner of this game. You end the game by wishing your mother a Merry Christmas and giving her a bell as she sleeps.

Day 12 – A Gift

Day 12 - A Gift

A Gift is another one of the shorter horror games. You have a flash light that can change to different colors to ward off monster hands. They try to steal your gift and make eerie breathing sounds as they spawn in. Match the color to the hand and stop them from taking the present! Keep them away long enough and it’s all yours. Pretty simple, not too difficult, and a little spooky.

Day 13 – Extremely Cool Downhill Skiing with Jaska

Day 13 - Extremely Cool Downhill Skiing with Jaska

Extremely Cool Downhill Skiing with Jaska will remind you of Ski Free. You ski down a hill with the threat of a monster at your back. This is a game you can actually win though! After making it through the gauntlet, you ski through the same map in 3D which was neat. The vibes of the game changed suddenly and became pretty dark and creepy. You also might recognize the monster from the creator’s other game Sauna 2000! The background environment where you play the game through an old PC was extremely cool.

Day 14 – Amalgamation

Day 14 - Amalgamation

Amalgamation is a short space gothic diorama about a brown dwarf. There’s not really any gameplay here, it’s more of a lonely story where you watch a brown dwarf in the darkness of space. I wasn’t sure exactly what to take from this. Was there a spaceship of some kind flying towards this planet? Perhaps an empty ship headed to an empty dark place.

Day 15 – Warped North

Day 15 - Warped North

In Warped North, you’re an alien that crashed down in a strange northern arctic continent. I’m not sure exactly how this happened, since you’re ship is actually a boat. You have to make your way through the frozen landscape using your psychic alien powers to transform the environment. The elves are mostly friendly, but some have an attitude . You can use your powers on them, but after seeing the results the first time, I couldn’t bring myself to do it again even though I didn’t like some of them.

The colors were beautiful and create a unique look of a magical north pole. It did take me a while to figure out what I was supposed to do for some parts though. Towards the end, you do have to stretch a piece of ice quite a bit. There’s also few neat Easter eggs to find as well.

Day 16 – A Dream Within a Dream

Day 16 - A Dream Within a Dream

In A Dream Within a Dream, you get to explore the Madvent Mountain close up. You can see all of the houses and their designs a bit better. There’s a few other smaller things to check out like the boat which you can see the name, but there’s not much to do. At the top of the mountain you reach the cross with an eye that’s yells at you to get out.

Day 17 – People’s Tree 2021 + Where’s Home

Day 17 - People's Tree 2021 + Where's Home

The People’s Tree 2021 is an online event where you can create your own ornament to add to the Christmas tree. You can also see all of the other ornaments that everyone else added online. There’s a good bit of shapes to pick from, but the color picker was a bit confusing at first. Just keep moving the colors around and you’ll figure it out. Finish your ornament, and leave a message for the other players!

Day 18 – Untitled

Day 18 - Untitled

The Untitled game takes place in an alternate simulated world. You have to collect ego to buy upgrades and win within 30 minutes. I wasn’t able to get the entire way through. It was a neat concept, but I didn’t like the game. It was too slow and it got kind of frustrating at times. It’s easy to run into walls and get confused with where you are since everything is made up of white lines.

Day 19 – Oberon’s Wake

Day 19 - Oberon's Wake

Oberon’s Wake is an action shooter game where you go on a rampage to destroy the enemies of Elfland. The king has fallen and you will have revenge. You have a good mix of weapons to use depending on which enemies show up next. The gameplay style reminds me of many arcade games and early PS1 games that did similar as well.

I loved the scene at the end. It’s a wonderful display of nostalgia that many can relate to. Comfortably playing a PS1 during the winder with a hot cocoa in your living room. That’s a perfect scene in my mind.

Day 20 – Gunshot Bride

Day 20 - Gunshot Bride

In Gunshot Bride, Chloe Föhn must destroy 1000 enemies with her katana and machine gun to get her heart back. Her would-be husband ripped it from her during their marriage ceremony and caged it. I enjoyed the story introduction and pictures used to tell the story. It’s a great story told in comic style pieces. Then it was followed up with an epic battle where you carve through endless waves of enemies. The game stops after killing 100, but I would have been just fine fighting 1000 of them.

Day 21 – Mother Christmas

Day 21 - Mother Christmas

Mother Christmas is a short horror game where you’re being questioned by police about the disappearance of you mother on Christmas night long ago. You stayed up late and hid behind the couch to catch Santa in the act, but that turned out to be a horrible idea. I didn’t understand much of what was going on in this game. You have to choose between two disfigured characters, but the ending doesn’t seem to be affected by what you choose. Both of them look like bad choices as well. In the end, you always end up saying something different too.

Day 22 – Family

Day 22 - Family

Family is a text adventure horror story game. You’re visiting your boyfriends family home, and he’s acting stranger than ever. Along the way, you notice so much seems off about the house. He tells you about the place and it’s history, but a lot of what he says isn’t making any sense either. This lady has got to be totally oblivious, her apparent boyfriend looks so weird and like he’s definitely up to something. The room her sister has to stay in smells awful, you can guess what’s going on at this part.

Depending on what prompts you pick, you’ll be led to a different ending. I tried everything I could, and ending up finding 2 bad endings plus 1 good ending. Both of the bad endings are horrific and creepy. It was a great story overall with some photo-realistic pictures and a fitting border made of skulls, eyes, and more. It kind of reminds me of some horror flash games.

Day 23 – Atlas Gate

Day 23 - Atlas Gate

The environment was immersive and ominous for the entire game. The strange landscape, the cloudy sky, and the darkness of the waters beyond. Though I liked the design and concept, it was slow. Using shift to run would have been a very helpful option here. After a while it gets boring from barely making any progress by walking around so slowly.

Day 24 – 24 Jingles to the Bell

Day 24 - 24 Jingles to the Bell

In 24 Jingles to the Bell, Santa has gone off the wagon and crashed his sleigh. He tasks you, one of his reindeer, with running around to find all of the presents that were scattered around.

The artistic style used in this game made it another one of my favorites. The colors and atmosphere are incredibly beautiful. Along with the background music, it was peaceful and got me in the mood to keep exploring. I also appreciated Santa’s extravagant ride with the present wagon.

One thing other players might not have noticed if they didn’t make it back before Santa leaves is the way the camp transforms. As you get more presents, the boxes show up and the camp will also be decorated when you come back. The ending was pretty sad though, and I couldn’t find a way to a more happy end.

Day 25 – Madvent Calendar 2021

Day 25 - Haunted PS1 Madvent Calendar 2021

That’s the end of the Haunted PS1 Madvent Calendar 2021! Bitey and Giftey wait at the top of the mountain to say goodbye, and the credits roll. The Madvent Calendar was a great mix of quality games. Holiday themed games are some of my favorites, so I was happy to see so many in one place. I’m definitely looking forward to next years if they choose to do another.

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