“Each door will lead you to a different strange world of horror and delight, but may only be opened if that day has arrived! […] The Madvent Calendar is a collaboration from many developers in The Haunted PS1 Community. A total of [twenty-four] haunted scenes or games unlocked each day [through] December 24th!”
Ho-ho-ho! Are you sad that Halloween 2020 is long gone by now? Do you look for a special, more spine-tingeling way to start the festive season? Lucky you! The amazing community around The Haunted PS1 made it their task to create a very special Advent calendar that can be downloaded and played for free. Each day one new game unlocks behind those doors, and so I thought game-curator.com should honor this project in a pretty similar way. Daily and as long as new shocking gifts are waiting in the Haunted PS1 Madvent Calendar 2020, I will update this article with short description as well as a video of each new title. And now, get ready for some holiday spooks!
Day 01: “RIP” by Nicholas Brancaccio.
What kind of sounds do you associate with Christmas? A children’s chorus? Ringing bells? “RIP” uses another one: The sound that appears whenever you unwrap a gift. It is quite magnificent how intense those tunes can become, especially when you play an exploration game where you have to find the false walls inside a surreal house, so that you can rip them open to fall into the void.
A strange, but fascinating distance between the player and the characters of “Screenplay In Autumn” unfolds, when they realize that their protagonist is not even the focus of the game’s story. They have to reenact the story between a mother and her son by following the script’s instructions. To spoil the content of the play would mean to spoil the whole plot itself, so you better make sure to experience that one on your own.
Day 03: “December 3rd” by Vladimere Lhore.
Your house boat is filled with beer bottles and cigarette packets, but neither them nor the sound of the sea can sooth your damaged soul in “December 3rd”. But as you look at a lighthouse, some childhood memories get back to you, and when you then start to explore the sea, you can find even more fragments of your past. However, one question remains: Are you already prepared for this?
Day 04: “Godforsaken Hole Called…” by Shane Yach.
On a shallow level, “Gorforsaken Hole Called…” could be described as a game, where you have to escape a labyrinth as a marble. Nevertheless I found myself asking what this maze could actually represent. Certain details and the overall atmosphere, primarily summoned by the audiovisual representation – especially the brazen sounds whenever you scrape by the narrow pipes -, brought me to one conclusion: The human mind. Why? Play it to find out.
Day 05: “Artists of a Dead World” by Autumn Rain.
The connection tunnels of an underground city system have been shut without further notice, causing all the inhabitants to be disconnected from each other. Sure, they can still see and talk to each other through the bars, but of course that is not the same. So what is left to do for you? Meet the “Artists of a Dead World”, look into the singing abyss, let the green layer overcome you and become a prisoner of the mysterious Duke.
How would you spend your last minutes before the whole world collapses thanks to a nuclear winter? In “Six & Six”, fishing is the correct answer. Enjoy the silence and let the freezing cold slowly take full control of your mortal vessel, while you cast your fishing rod. Afterwards, you should immediately cook and devour your last prey, as each of your last meals slightly expands your lifetime. Nonetheless, you cannot escape your end.
Day 07: “HWÅJÏLGÜJÏ” by ZIK & Ryan Rauch.
A snow-like substance drives the people in “HWÅJÏLGÜJÏ” to a strange shelter. All of them seem to have lost touch with their past, as they struggle to remember what the world was like before the incident. You are the newest addition, and as you explore the building, you will find some newspaper clippings as well as ol diary entries. Thanks to this lore and certain conversations, you realize that you became part of something bigger.
What makes “195 Hours in the Cold” to such a fantastic little title, is its focus on environmental storytelling in combination with the – at first seemingly cryptical – thoughts of the main character. In the middle of a snowy night you see an abandoned, but somehow familiar bar. You enter the building to escape from the cold just to find empty bottles, toppled stools and one closed door in there. Who ran this place and what is your connection to it?
It is night and you are trapped inside a shut passenger car of a malfunctioning train. As if the situation is not bad enough, your mobile phone also stopped to work properly. While you can still get text messages in “SMS”, you cannot answer. So you are doomed to read how your mother is worried about you. And while I suppose you already have a pretty good idea how this story is supposed to end, let me assure you: You do not.
The central theme that is hidden in the different vignettes of “Paralysis Penguin” still is not entirely clear to me, which is why I will definitely replay it again. It left me confused, but also curious. Who is Astro? Why get penguins paralyzed after a slight touch? And should I either be worried or excited about the arrival of Grandpa? At some time or another I will find my answers.
In “What Lies Within the Ice”, you are looking for some ruins in a forest. The whole first part of the game could be described as a beautiful winter stroll without a specific goal, as you do not have any map with you. You just walk and walk and walk, while each new scene looks very similar to the former. Eventually you will reach your destination, but maybe you should have stayed outside.
Day 12: “Eyes & Ears” by USERLANDS.
All you have to do in “Eyes & Ears” is to guide your own field of vision inside a hut with the help of the arrow keys. No further interaction is required whatsoever and also no puzzles are involved, so you are completely free to explore the scene. What might sound boring for thrill seekers, is actually a well-made reinterpretation of a postcard about a Cornish litany. So see for yourself if you can spot all the details.
Day 13: “You have reached the end” by Jan Malitschek.
As “You have reached the end” cannot mean the end of this spectacular advent calendar of the eerie kind, one should ask themselves what exactly is about to cease. The admittedly short walk in a cave tunnel with a way too low ceiling? Or maybe civilization itself, finding its doom in an eternal blizzard? Just take it all in and experience the finale of something you cannot be sure of. By the way, it is based on a YouTube video made by Bosnian Ape Society.
Day 14: “Evenfall” by Neurobew.
If you were a teenager at the turn of the millenium, chances are high that the setting of “Evenfall” will evoke some nostalgic feelings. It all starts as a regular sleepover situation; it is night, the smell of half-eaten pizza and unfinished laundry fills the room, skateboards lean against the wall and the only source of light is the flickering of monitors. However, the true enlightenment will come eventually.
Day 15: “Ski-street serenade” by Moya Horror.
Before you can hear the actual “Ski-street serenade”, you have to help out a poor soul. A spirit is trapped inside a non-material state and needs you to collect some kind of energy orbs. Their body is not all in this game that needs fixing, though: Their accordion has to be repaired too. All those tiny tasks would not give you any trouble if it were not for some haunted creature, which does not seem to be very keen about some happy tunes.
Day 16: “Down in the Dungeon” by Jaybee.
In “Down in the Dungeon”, we step into the role of a nine, maybe ten years old child, who is alone at home. No parents are there, all doors and windows are closed, the family dog Max relaxes on the couch and we could play some awesome videogames or watch our favorite movies. A child’s dream come true? Not really, as there still is something creepy about our home. And why is it so hard to shut this hatch?
While “The People’s Tree” is not spooky in the traditional sense, it sometimes renders the experiences of this haunting year visible in its own fantastic way. Here we have a digital space, that waits to be filled with messages from all over the world. You can write your own note and make it publicly visible by sticking it to your own small ornament, which you can use to decorate the Christmas tree. What a deeply delightful, soothing installation it is.
Day 18: “Far From Home” by Rubeki.
After a certain amount of time – maybe just some months, maybe half an eternity – you finally reboot. You are an assistent robot on a space station, left behind by your main user, the primarly responsible scientist for a special research project. Something must have gone wrong. A new target comes up for you: To find them. So float slowly in each chamber of the enormous construction and read their log entries. Maybe they contain useful information?
Day 19: “Winter Walk 2006” by Bryce Bucher & Ryan Rauch.
At first glance, “Winter Walk 2006” seems to be about playing an exploration game inside another game, but it actually focuses on the exploration of a much more abstract topic. What layers are hiding between games, dreams, reality, life and death? Does our perception of something change because of our perspective, or does our perspective get modified because things are always transforming? Does it even matter to think about such questions?
While each single snowflake is believed to have a unique pattern, a whole “Blanket of Snow” can make one forest look like another. The white substance is able to bury nearly anything under it. Although, when you take a closer look, you might still discover the hidden secrets, even before the warm spring sun will bring them back. Or maybe you are rightfully scared that something else emerges from the cold concealment? Go ahead. Seek what you desire.
Day 21: “Formation” by Ruben Tipparach & Ryan Rauch.
In a slightly Lovecraftian way of storytelling, “Formation” establishes a narrative setting where we as the players have to figure out what went wrong with an expedition on an island. At least three men never returned from there, but yet we might be able to crack this mystery by reading their scattered journal entries and with the help of some good old-fashioned investigative work. Although, what is the deal with the wooden walls outside?
At the beginning, all the people you encounter are happy, even joyful about the sudden change of weather! Snow is kind of a rarity here after all. Wondering about this abnormality, you decide to explore your surroundings to get behind the source of “The Snow of Basidia”. It is hidden deep in the cavern, which seems to be densely covered with mushrooms. One has to wonder if those always been here, but hey, it is just some fungus, so forget about it.
Day 23: “æ” by Colorfiction.
I played “æ” three times. The first two times the experience lasted for only a minute, but then I started to wander around and to think about this environment. I asked myself in what kind of relation it stands to the festive season. There is nothing particular cozy, colorful or bright about it, at least not in the classic sense. But maybe that is exactly it? Maybe it is an antithesis to my ideas about this time of the year, showing me what I am really longing for? Maybe.
Everything must come to an end, eventually, and so it makes a lot of sense that the last game of this marvelous project was called “Slumber”. Here you have to find your way back home, while you also have to avoid looking at the so-called watchers, which are owl-like creatures which will put you to sleep if you stare at them for too long or if you are too close to them. That makes it difficult to follow the road, but who knows what secrets the forest may hide?
The hidden credits scene:
You can download the complete “Haunted PS1 Madvent Calendar 2020” right here: [PLAY]