“C.H.A.I.N.” presented by The Haunted PS1 community, organized by Adam Pype, featuring games made by Jazz Mickle, Adam PypeViktor Kraus, Z. William Swanson, DuendeonFuego, David Rodríguez Madriñán, Colter Wehmeier, Bill Derrah, Louie Woodhouse, Deejay Astral, justadude1, kurethedead, Nicholas Brancaccio, Jan Rib, Bill Karabasis, Jan Malitschek, Shane Yach, Guillaume Thrace, Luke Harrison, Nate HamleyAmos Sorri, NO EYES, Autumn Rain, Nathan Gabriel & corpsepile.

“[An] […] collection of [twenty] short horror games developed over the span of half a year. The developers [could not] communicate with each other during development. Each developer would send their game to the next person in line, who would make a follow-up. Together they form a complete narrative.”

With “C.H.A.I.N.”, the Haunted PS1 community has managed to create a wonderful collaboration project using the exquisite corpse methodology: First a game A was developed, then someone else developed a follow-up title B based on A, and then someone else came along and created a contribution C based on B, but – and this is very important to keep in mind – without knowing A. In this fashion, twenty sometimes spooky, sometimes surreal contributions have been created, which together tell a story.

Due to the production style, narrative stringency cannot be the main focus here, but overall a truly outstanding, atmospheric collection of games has been created. This article, too, is written in a rather episodic manner and goes into detail about each individual game in a short, often slightly cryptic fragment of text. I hope that I can reproduce the atmosphere of “C.H.A.I.N.” and encourage you to play.

Specimen 01: “TORCH” by Jazz Mickle.

Without giving any obvious indication of what we are getting into with this collection of games, “TORCH” introduces us to the action, at least on an atmospheric level. Equipped only with a torch, we explore the narrow corridors of a dark cave labyrinth. We do not learn what we are looking for here, who we are or what this place is supposed to be. Instead, only three things await us at the end: A macabrely designed gate, white light, and uncertainty.

Specimen 02: “Ms. Blanch,” by Adam Pype & Viktor Kraus.

Once again we play a character with a torch, and now she finally gets a name: “Ms. Blanch,” a participant of… Yes, of what, actually? A dressed up stranger greets us on a wide beach. He thinks we will be pleased to hear that we are not the only ones who have made it this far. Also, he wants us to follow him into the sea. Without even beginning to question this plan, we submit to our fate. However, the underwater walk is short-lived.

Specimen 03: “the participants” by Z. William Swanson & DuendeonFuego.

A change of perspective has been made. We no longer see the world through the eyes of Ms. Blanch, but walk through it as the mysterious suit. In the underwater realm we meet “the participants”, although no longer in their original form. The entire area seems like a hidden place whose purpose seems to lie somewhere between mad science and transformative magic. Maybe we will find out soon – but certainly no longer as the stranger.

Specimen 04: “Emerge” by David Rodríguez Madriñán.

In “Emerge”, Ms. Blanch can celebrate a double comeback, so to speak. However, you cannot even be completely sure if it actually is her at all, as several beings that look confusingly similar to her are lying on the floor. While they either lie injured or deathly ill on the floor, our character can fortunately still move freely. But with one single brutal hand movement, even this perplexing dream – or rather nightmare – will be ended. The test is passed.

Specimen 05: “DRIP” by Colter Wehmeier & Bill Derrah.

What is going on in “DRIP” is hard to say. At first we are warmly congratulated for how excellently we have mastered the test, but suddenly this illusory reality collapses. Not only do we have to realize that we are a mask inside a cell nucleus falling down a giant spiral, but also that a being with tendril arms is trying to wrestle us down. What exactly Ms. Blanch has to do with it, you will have to find out for yourselves.

Specimen 06: “DREAM AETHER” by Louie Woodhouse & Deejay Astral.

The mask cell continued to develop into a higher organism, namely that of the mannequin head. In “DREAM AETHER”, the skull looks out for its body and has to collect ten fragments in different levels, which together make a key. The search takes place in dimensions of the most diverse symbolism: Ancient Egyptian monuments, Greek statues, as well as the hands of drowning people. At some point, however, the parts become a whole again.

Specimen 07: “BALL//OUT” by justadude1.

We have just gained a new body, but we cannot use it in “BALL//OUT” yet. Instead, we were packed into a cell that more resembles a gigantic hamster ball. Through gentle vibrations we can set it in motion and thus roll in all directions. This is also necessary, since we are now supposed to collect the fallen souls. To get to them, however, we have to perform a real tightrope act. Inner balance and patience are required. The first phase is over.

Specimen 08: “???” by kurethedead.

The first walking attempts we make with our new body in this untitled game end bloody. Sluggishly moving lumps of flesh are crushed by the remains of our cage, while we fight our way completely naked. Every battle except the last one ends with a downed gate. A circular saw to cut an old connection is the final hurdle. You can feel the tension curve rising more strongly now. Something new begins. The second phase is over.

Specimen 09: “SWELL” by Nicholas Brancaccio.

Not for nothing is water also called the source of life. After we have found our head as well as our body again, our rebirth is now initiated in “SWELL”. However, we are not alone. Other creatures also long for the re-entry into existence, and so we must not only snatch away their food. We have to consume our competitors, like in “Osmos” or “Agar.io”. Otherwise we would suffer the same fate as them. Be fast, be reckless. The third phase is over.

Specimen 10: “ORGAN OF EDEN” by Jan Rib.

Instead of still swimming around freely in the ocean as a strange organism, we are once again hemmed in. We no longer have a human form. In “ORGAN OF EDEN” we are an egg-like creature with claws. We eke out our existence in a giant reagent vessel until we can suddenly break out. Our hunger for bloodthirsty revenge is awakened, and so we shred every scientist who gets in our way, only to eat his brain, heart and eyes. Does freedom await us?

Specimen 11: “DAY 11” by Bill Karabasis.

In “DAY 11”, red lights in the darkness lead us to wells, which – it seems at first – we drain of water. Appearances are deceptive, however, as we now find grave crosses there instead. Who we have buried there and for what reasons cannot be answered at this point; maybe all the murdered scientists to cover up the failed operation? The only thing that is certain is that many eyes will be on us in the end, but in a way that could not be foreseen at all.

Specimen 12: “Avert your Eyes” by Jan Malitschek.

While water has been the most important motif in this collection so far, “Avert your Eyes” radically breaks with it. With fire, we crush creatures round as an orb, while at the same time offering three ritual sacrifices in the cave. We learn that our character does this once a year to keep ‘them’ – who are they? – away from us again for a while. But the act remains barbaric, as it is drenched in blood, charred skin and loud screams.

Specimen 13: “{()[\/^^|\| |}○|}&3|*\” by Shane Yach.

While I could not find a secret code behind the title “{()[\/^^|| |}○|}&3|*\”, it describes this game perfectly. We have to avoid the void pillars as well as possible in order not to be pushed back by them. Each stage becomes more difficult as they not only start to move, but also to rotate and ignore the gravitational forces. In between, we encounter one of the orbs, which seems to know our motives better than we do. We want knowledge. They have it.

Specimen 14: “???” by Guillaume Thrace.

Here we have to deal with a kind of three-dimensional horror version of “Pac-Man”, although there is no temporary invincibility. We have to find nine books in a maze, which seem to be encyclopedias of all the secret knowledge that the curious creatures have accumulated. However, they do not want to admit defeat just like that and chase us. Also, they seem to have taken on a more cockroach-like form, but the real danger comes from something else.

Specimen 15: “15” by Luke Harrison.

Books have to be found in “15” as well, but this time eight instead of nine. Again, the creatures pursue us, but in a new guise: They are now slow-moving lumps of flesh, each housing a giant eyeball in its center. Since the glow of our flashlight cannot do anything against them and since we do not carry a weapon, we have to flee from the monstrosities during our discovery tour. At least, the ritual will soon be complete.

Specimen 16: “16” by Nate Hamley.

In one of the eight books, we found the instructions for performing a certain ritual. The game “16” allows us to make all the arrangements. Each container of herbs is put in its place and all the plants needed for it are picked in the middle of the night. You will also have to donate a little blood. But do it quickly, because there is not much time left. It remains unclear at first what the ritual is actually for – until it finally takes effect.

Specimen 17: “VALE” by Amos Sorri & NO EYES.

“VALE” is said to be a word that has two meanings: On the one hand it is a poetic expression for a valley, on the other hand it is an expression of saying farewell. Certainly, this ambivalence is intended, because again we have to collect books, but in doing so we hear the voices of the dead. After all, as a quote at the beginning of the game states, reading is just another form of time travel. Who knows what our future holds in store?

Specimen 18: “Scary Library” by Autumn Rain.

In the stormy night we have to look for a shelter, and so we come across the “Scary Library”, which is still open. The librarian, however, is uncommunicative as she is engrossed in her book, so she asks us to simply look around a bit. A little later, however, she has disappeared without a trace, but we find torn out book pages with runic symbols on them. Just as we set out to collect all the pages, an uninvited guest suddenly enters the otherwise quiet place.

Specimen 19: “ABRAXAS” by Nathan Gabriel.

The Egyptian gnostic Basilides called the highest primordial being “ABRAXAS”. From this mysterious being, the five primordial powers spirit, word, providence, wisdom and power are said to have emerged. So it is not surprising that in this interactive scene we face a being that is difficult to describe in just one sentence. The sight is overwhelming. Our journey is not quite over yet, and yet the destination can already be seen on the horizon. The finale awaits.

Specimen 20: “999999” by corpsepile.

No, “999999” is not a meaninglessly exaggerated reference to the number of the beast. This number has an important meaning. It is a symbol of sacrifice, of hope, but also of merciless fate. It gallantly illustrates how the last link of the chain finds its way back to the beginning. You will soon fully understand what I mean when you meet the person behind. But a glance upwards could also already be a good hint.

Specimen 20: “999999” by corpsepile, second ending.

A million just looks better than nine hundred thousand ninety thousand nine hundred and ninety nine, does it not?

You can download “C.H.A.I.N.” right here: [PLAY]