Reviews of the best indie games and horror games

Haunted PS1 Madvent Calendar 3 Necrosis – All Games Reviewed

The greatest time of the year is back again, The Haunted PS1 Madvent Calendar 3 – Necrosis has been released! Indie horror games have become my favorite in the past few years, and outside of the game jams Madvent is my most anticipated event. I loved last years launcher, and this years is even better. The HPS1 dev Vladimere Lhore nailed it again with the New Spook City launcher, and Coulter who did all the programming. The city is a theme that I think most PS1 and indie game fans will agree is amazing.

Made in the shape of a snowflake, New Spook City brings us 30 winter and holiday themed games this year! There’s 25 games leading up the Christmas, and 5 more as a bonus. It’s a truly spectacular and colorful Christmas city, and each of the towers lights up once you complete their games. There are many spoilers ahead, so if you plan on playing these games then please be aware of this.

Day 1 – RIIP

RIIP Christmas present

For the 3rd year, RIIP is back with more new levels! Just like a Christmas gift, we’re gonna rip open the fabric of time and space. Something new that many players learned is that there is a knock ability! Knocking will make the exit give off a sound to help you find it. This is a major help, and makes RIIP much more enjoyable. It actually was a feature in the past two games that went unnoticed.

I really like seeing the many run down and spooky environments of each level. Having the glitch hunt you down when you almost made it through is the scariest part.

Day 2 – A Mad Christmas Carol

Fighting Demonic Santa in A Mad Christmas Carol

A Mad Christmas Carol is a short 1v1 RPG where you fight off monsters every night until Christmas Eve! The aesthetic and RPG concept was really cool to mix alongside a Christmas theme. While the RPG elements are fun, it does get repetitive quick as killing monsters can be a bit slow. The upgrades are nice to get so you can go further each time, I recommend going for offense! I liked the variety of monsters, it kept me interested in seeing what would come next.

One other thing is that the combat is very strict and linear, you always deal the same damage that your strength shows. No randomness, critical hits, dodging etc. Anyway, those are just some constructive criticisms. For a short holiday themed horror game RPG, it’s a great game you should try out. The background and monster graphics have an otherworldly retro VHS look, very crisp and spooky.

Day 3 – Do They Know

Do They Know villagers gathering screenshot

Do They Know starts off as a cheerful, comfortable Christmas celebration and turns into a lonely, spooky, and surreal horror game. You go around the village gathering the people up, fixing some of the lights, and then testing the traditional soup.

Problem is the dude who was supposed to get the firewood went missing. Their next best idea is to send a child alone into the cold dark woods. The uplifting mood from the village turns to dark and spooky, and gets worse when you fall into a hole underground. You wake up in a massive underground building filled with nuclear waste and abandoned technology, which presents a lot of questions.

I really enjoyed the elements of mystery in this game. Just where did you end up, and what is this place? It’s lonely and spooky until the end, making your way through some type of nuclear factory. I wonder what the villagers are up to now. Pretty grim ending for the kid.

Day 4 – Nailhead

Nailhead box screenshot

The most violent and horrifying of the bunch so for is Nailhead. It’s short, but has a pretty interesting monster and concept. It seems you and your friends were on a camping trip to a cabin, as is cliche tradition. One of my favorites. There was this creepy box with nails sticking out all over the place and you decided to open it. With the ensuing chaos being a massacre of your friends in brutal ways. Until you took down your Nailhead possessed friend with fire pokers.

It’s a short puzzle horror game where you need to find a way to destroy the box once and for all before leaving. Looking through the house, you find the aftermath of what happened to your friends. Wasn’t good to look too long, I focused on the clues and went from room to room. It took around 5 minutes to figure everything out, so it has a decent difficulty to it. The Nailhead monster was something new, and perfect for an indie horror game.

Day 5 – For Goodness Sake

For Goodness Sake Christmas present under the light

In For Goodness Sake, you do chores around the house and answer questions in hopes of ensuring a spot on the nice list. It’s late at night and as you do chores you look back on whether you think you friends did the right things last year. The spooky look of the house was great, almost like a nightmare! The shade of green, the flickers, and fades to complete darkness set a silent, empty Christmas house mood. It’s similar to the colors of Dead Letter Dept, made by the same creator.

A few of the questions have no good answer, and the stories of bullying can be pretty sad. If you answer wrong, and don’t understand them right you might just end up getting taken by Krampus! The music that plays while you answer questions sounds almost like an impending doom or bad fate. A hint that you might be bringing forth his wrath.

With a little common sense, you’ll get the right answers and earn yourself a prize instead. You choose whether or not the way your friends dealt with their guilt was right or wrong, and which answers you think Krampus might accept.

Day 6 – Petra Theos

Petra Theos strange rock in the dark forest

I didn’t understand most of what was going on in Petra Theos, but the ending was pretty gruesome. The short explanation being eating some sort of otherworldly or disfigured monstrous baby. His mad obsession with the rock might have drove him to that. With the man religiously following whatever command it gives no matter how terrible.

Day 7 – In The Drink

In The Drink fishes gathering around your submarine

In The Drink is an underwater exploration adventure where you help out some magical fish in need. There’s a few things to check out around the sub, but a lot more outside. With your sub you travel through the depths getting a few magic powers as you go on to free more fish.

The ending was very heartwarming and uplifting! The fish and decorations were colorful and perfect for Christmas. Now the explorer doesn’t have to spend her Christmas alone! It’s my favorite ending on the Madvent Calendar.

Day 8 – Antlers

Antlers snowy landscape environment

Antler has a beautiful snowy PS1 environment. It was nice to just walk around and check it out. I’ve never really played many hunting games, but it feels like one of the classics. There’s a big map to explore, so it might take you a bit to find some of the deer. After bringing them back from the hunt, you sleep in the cabin overnight and wake up to find them missing.

Following the leftover blood trail, you encounter a beast of a deer who chases you out of the woods while some sort of sinister evil deer rapture is going on. I thought that part was pretty funny, scary for our guy though, who quits hunting forever. Unfortunately we didn’t get to have a showdown with the monster deer. Seems he’s happy we left.

Day 9 – Occuleye

Occuleye eye plant monster in the dark

In Occuleye, strange alien plants invade a farmers homestead. He’s had enough and makes it his mission to burn every last one this time. I liked the farmer vs Aaliens theme, and the snowy atmosphere with the decent attention to detail. Having the tents, graveyard, etc. were all good additions.

The wood might be tricky for you to find at first, look to your right when you start to find where to chop the wood. I was walking around for quite a bit the first time I started because I couldn’t find it, so it was kind of frustrating to get started. Also, there is no ending. You just lose when you get caught by the watchers, which increase in number with each plant you burn. Besides that, you get two Sprite’s to keep you going. Plus your two cabins to keep you warm!

Day 10 – Boulder Baby

Boulder Baby trippy world grandma drawn art

Boulder Baby is a game based on sleep paralysis nightmares you had during Xmas. You’ve got a lot going on at once, even tripped-out horror granny offering you copious amounts of food. The games near the end where pretty funny and creative. The character designs alone look very cartoony or comic like, these are awesome designs here.

I had a lot of fun exploring the trippy bizarre world of Yaris. I wish there was more of it! The “games” and other stuff in the largest area were my favorites. They’re pretty funny and unique games where the players face a horrible demise. Gifty also makes a surprise appearance in Yaris!

Day 11 – Thy Flesh Consumed

Thy Flesh Consumed monsters in the village

Armed with a revolver, you need to make your way back to the village. Thy Flesh Consumed is an FPS horror game taking place in the snowy forest and mountains. Deformed creatures who have taken oven charge at you and sling balls of flesh. The gunplay is decent, especially once you get the shotgun which has a bit more power. You also get a damage bonus from dodging enemies at the last moment.

The ending took me for a surprise. I don’t understand what he fought all of the creatures for if he’s just going to jump in an endless pit. It seems the homunculus arm-headed beasts have won, nobody was left in the village. The endless tree’s and cliffs were a good design choice, it’s very PS1-like.

Day 12 – Night Guard Skull Steve

Night Guard Skull Steve museum graphics

Night Guard Skull Steve is a shorter game. You’re a night guard that has to kick out ghosts from the art gallery. Also, you’re just a skull. It’s a pretty basic mini game, you roll around into the ghosts to make them leave. The clinking of the skull, music, and colorful art was a nice combo. A short and sweet entry.

Day 13 – Santa’s Shop

Santa's Shop giant terrifying PSX Santa

Santa’s Shop is a nightmarish horror game where you walk through a Christmas themed maze. It was a pretty creepy exploration game. The maze has a lot of fun random elements and Christmas themed props. It’s like exploring the haunted North Pole. The holiday atmosphere is great, with a horror version of We Wish You a Merry Christmas playing while a creepy voice reads out a story in the background.

Day 14 – YuleTown

YuleTown Christmas Celebration

YuleTown is celebrating Christmas, and you’re in charge of handing of the gifts this year! You have to talk to everyone in the village to see what they want, and collect their gifts from others. The gift givers in the past didn’t fare too well. If you screw up then Krampus will find and end you.

The characters have a lot personality and really good dialogue, YuleTown is worth exploring to it’s fullest extent. Even if you screw up and miss a few gifts, you don’t have to start over which was really nice. You get to keep the game going and can move on. The party at the end was awesome, and had perfect dance music. Even Krampus is overjoyed at your efforts. A lot of the little Yulefolk characters dialogue was hilarious too, definitely talk to those guys.

Day 15 – Digital Hyperspace Retrograde

Digital Hyperspace Retrograde colorful world screenshot

Digital Hyperspace Retrograde is a 3D platforming game that looks like something out of one of the LSD game jams. I’m not too sure what the giant retro dude is trying to say, but he wants us to climb to the top of this trippy vortex. It’s pretty frustrating at first, if you fall then you gotta restart.

After the first few levels you get a lot of chances to recover though. Your jumps go a lot further than you think, there’s a few times you just gotta go for it to move on. It turned out to be pretty fun, I wonder what the floating energy guy was trying to say to us.

Day 16 – Cordoba Court

Cordoba Court plant customizer

Like last years People’s Tree, Cordoba Court is a community event where players can customize a plant or decorated plate to place in the court. It was a pretty simple, but neat event. I liked seeing the creations and messages left behind by others. You’ll find my own plant in front of one of the planters in front of the stairs.

Day 17 – Tears of Christ

Tears of Christ maze screenshot

Tears of Christ is a short game where you walk through a brick maze while you slowly meet your demise. The game definitely looks to be inspired by the old Windows 95 screensaver brick maze. Besides that, it’s pretty dark and gruesome. You walk around with your wrists cut open while you get dizzier and the world shakes. There’s not much to see around the maze no matter how far you go, the story is just pretty sad. Great aesthetic, and horror, but not much to do. Great use of the maze for nostalgia.

Day 18 – Peace on Earth

Peace on Earth cabin screenshot

Peace on Earth is a joyful but dark horror game where you give out presents to your friends in a cozy cabin. Based on the description I figured we were in a bunker of some sorts, but the twist was pretty amazing. Once you give out the gifts and go outside it turns out you were on the moon! Looking over to the Earth, it’s entirely red and seemingly lifeless. Peace on Earth has a fascinating and spooky ending. Makes you wonder what happened on Earth that ended it all. You’re all alone with just 3 others on the moon, what a dark story that was.

Day 19 – BloodBoarderz

Bloodboarderz slasher snowboarding

One of my favorite PS1 game series was Cool Boarders. That was the first game I thought of when starting up BloodBoarderz. While the concept and graphics are good, the game is kind of short and seems to be missing some polishing. For instance, you can’t reach the second gift at all. Also if you respawn, it doesn’t matter since everyone keeps going and finishes way before you’d ever have a chance to catch up.

The “kill other players” idea was fun. Though it was hard to kill them, a longer game with more laps would have been awesome. Most of them got away though, I was able to take down 3-5 a few times. More laps and it’d be solid. I also liked being able to pick through the board designs, that was classic.

I came back to this game after an update, and they made the level much longer! Much better than the original. There’s a longer course and many more boarders to kill. It’s way harder though, you might have trouble making it to the end in time.

Day 20 – Futile

Futile island house graphic

There’s no game here this time, it seems to be an incomplete entry. Futile is a simple exploration of an empty house on an island in the middle of a foggy ocean. While the atmosphere and PSX graphics are spooky and well done, there’s just nothing else to do. I’m not sure if I’m missing the point of something here, or if there’s some secret. Would like to hear an explanation if there’s some sort of story about the place. For now, it seems we’re stranded here.

Day 21 – Swole

Swole room screenshot with tiger posters, lights, and pc

Swole is another weird game, and kind of funny at some points. Especially with what the dream narrator says at the beginning… you’ll see, it’s wild. Something to do with you’re second cousin, at a family gathering, yeah. Anyways, it’s winter again and your dream fitness advisor tells you it’s time to get Swole!

You check your phone for some tasks, and help your guy finish them. As you do more, the shake cup fills up in the corner. You watch some videos, eat sandwiches, then most important of all you take the pills. Some moderator in a VR fitness game recommended them to you, so you bought them from another sketchy guy there.

As the days go on, less people are online, ominously disappearing. The pills have taken their toll on them, they’re gone. Doesn’t look too good for you either. That was the horrifying part, that you see what happened to the others from their foolish pill use, then you’re next! The dreams were entertaining at first, now they’re pretty horrifying. Also, our guy apparently has some strange obsession with tigers. Not sure what that’s about, just another fun part of the game’s weirdness.

Day 22 – A Mall Near You

A Mall Near You main floor screenshot

A Mall Near You is my favorite game in the Madvent Calendar this year because of it’s aesthetics and perfect depictions of a dead mall. It’s definitely a 10/10 for PSX graphics, and the feelings of classic mall nostalgia. The stores, old games, and many other strange things we all remember from being at the mall. Even the spooky restaurants. Then there’s a Christmas shopping mix on top of all of that. Perfect!

There’s also many spooky little details that fit in perfectly. Definitely take a look near the closed part of the mall, where ghosts and other creepy things lurk in the distance. You might also want to listen to the back door in Sauls (discount Sears). Then there’s the empty, trashed stores. Places like those strongly resemble the dead mall’s we’ve seen in real life.

Besides Sauls, there’s many other funny store and present knockoffs. The Hot Topic, Tamagotchi’s, T-Shirts, etc. Plus the presents you collect are all creative and fun, no matter how small they might seem. I’d highly recommend this game to any HPS1 fans!

Day 23 – Dream Loser

Dream Loser stranger camping in the maze

A short trip to the bathroom turns out to be a trip to another dimension. Dream Loser is a short game where you travel through a maze collecting rabbit heads for a stranger. He says he can help you escape, but the notes lying around tell the story of a wicked monster. One who wears the skin of their victims and feasts on rabbit heads… There’s another man chasing you around the maze, so who do you trust?

The atmosphere was great, especially with the starry night sky and scary looking moon. The red tree’s and bushes are a great color combo with the dark world you now travel through. It’s a bit difficult to win though, the man who chases you can catch you at the very beginning before you even leave the first area. You have to restart entirely. There’s a passwords option in the menu, but it seems there are no passwords to be found. Maybe this is an early version of the game that will be updated?

Day 24 – Truss

Truss fireplace and bedroom

You’re all alone in the woods, and the only living person around for miles. It’s kind of scary, yet so comfortable in a way. In Truss you wake up in your cozy small cabin, only to leave and explore the snowy forest out of curiosity. The game seems to take place in a world of illusions, created by the silent, dark, and endless snowy world.

It’s hard to explain the rest of the story, maybe we are succumbing to hypothermia? Though the ending makes me think you are the dream being the whole time, once we meet out “true self.” We’re an illusion created from wonder and dreams of things that never were, out of the uncertainty of this someone we met. Truss is one of the most quality games on the list. With a calm, somber OST, really great PSX visuals, effects, and a story that makes you think.

Day 25 – Merry Crisis

Merry Crisis rocket control screen

In Merry Crisis, New Spooky City is under attack by Gifty in his new buff form. On top of that he’s using the power of the beams from the towers to turn him into a Super Gifty that turns giant. Bitey breaks out a sack of weapons to take down the towers and cut off Gifty’s power supply.

The controls were a bit tricky at first, but it was fun to fly around and destroy everything. I like the way the city ended up being used for one of the games. It was a good way to end the first 25 days of the Madvent Calendar. Afterward, Gifty will keep on destroying the city in the background until you complete the final 5 days.

Day 26 – Cancelled Christmas

Cancelled Christmas wintry forest shootout

Cancelled Christmas was broken at first, but a fix has been released! Go back and give it another try. In an arcade style shooter, you blast away the corrupt elves in the forest and village. It’s a neat idea, combining the play style with a Christmas themed game. The only flaw is the goblin elves can shoot you before they even appear. Still, it doesn’t make the game too difficult. There’s lots of health, you can reload quickly and you can take out most enemies with just a few shots. Headshots, they’ll go down in 1.

Day 27 – Box Game

Box Game break room Christmas tree scene

Finally, a game about boxes. Box Game is a story about a worker who had to stay late on Christmas for training. If that’s not already depressing enough, he has to make his way through the warehouse to log some box into a PC his boss is worried about.

I liked the huge amount of boxes overflowing everywhere. They’re all physically movable objects and constantly being made into larger piles from the conveyors around the warehouse. Everything has really great PSX graphics and vibes. It’s even a bit creepy how you’re all alone in a dim office and then the spooky giant warehouse.

There’s a few toys hidden around like the cheese and hardhat. Fun additions, but I’m not sure what they were for. A lot of stuff in the game isn’t explained too well. The receipt claws can grab you and kill you, and you have to use your phone scanner to stop them. Many players probably got killed because they were never told what to do. As for the boss fight, dry ice bombs appear in your inventory when it starts. So you can be sacrificed to the parcel gods, or kill your boss. Great game overall, one of my favorites. Would’ve been better with more explanations and checkpoints.

Day 28 – Jennifer’s Nonsensical Christmas Adventure

Jennifer's Nonsensical Christmas Adventure story slide

Jennifer’s Nonsensical Adventure is a short interactive movie that is truly bizarre and hilarious. It was a relaxing change from the other games, where you can sit back and read a Christmas story at your own pace. Jennifer is a cute and funny character, a great replacement for Santa who’s on break. Pretty much all of the characters are cute too, especially the ending photo.

After stealing a car, there’s several more funny and nonsensical twists. I won’t spoil the rest of the story, it’s not a game, but it’s worth checking out. Would have been nice to have a few parts where you could make choices in the story, maybe effecting the ending or something.

Day 29 – Calm the Wolf

Calm the Wolf fireworks bullet hell

Calm the Wolf is a short New Years themed horror game about Belik who was bitten by a werewolf. Since it’s the new year, fireworks are about to start and you have to try to control yourself from turning as best that you can. The fireworks appear on a radar on the corner of the screen, which works both as a bullet hell and balancing game for you. Belik will make it out just fine if you can resist against the red bar filling up, or else there’s a bad ending where he turns into the werewolf. It’s a short game, a really great Madvent entry with a simple story and theme.

Day 30 – Happy New Fear

Happy New Fear The Curator vs Gifty

Happy New Fear is the final Madvent Entry and the closing story where Gifty faces his defeat. The power of the final dreams was used to call The Curator who comes to the city and gives Gifty some swift justice. It’s a short animation, and a nice voiceover storytelling entry with a cheerful ending song. A perfect way to end the 2022 Haunted PS1 Madvent Calendar.

Closing Thoughts

I enjoyed pretty much every game in the Madvent Calendar. There’s many gaming and PC nostalgia references, like Bloodboardez which is a Coolboarders inspired game. Tears of Christ and the Windows 95 screensaver, and of course A Mall Near You which has tons of them. Some of the games had bugs when coming out, but the devs seemed to be on top of it. Make sure to check out the credits to give the devs some well deserved attention.

It’s nice to have some of the shorter entries as well. A mini-game every once in a while is a good balance, and were some of my favorites. Every day has something to like. I love Christmas and Winter themed anything in general too, so the Madvent Calendar is something I’ll always be anticipating.

If you enjoyed my reviews, please share the article with your friends and other indie horror game fans! You’ll also want to check out my reviews of the 2021 Haunted PS1 Madvent Calendar.

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