This week's top PC games are made of fever dreams and horrifying retro reality

three characters with varying black hairstyles standing
(Image credit: Studio Zevere)

There may be plenty of sequels in this week’s batch of PC games you may have missed, but every title here offers a unique horror experience that will have you contemplating every story beat and encounter with the unknown long after the game is finished.

One main unifier between these titles is their use of retro graphics to convey the horrors contained within them. Unlike AAA and AA games that have larger budgets and development teams to rely on, which then allows them to use hyperrealistic graphics, indie games must rely on less intensive graphics.

This allows for less visual information to be conveyed, which enhances the experience as players are forced to survive without using as much of their sight. And in some of these choices, the sound design becomes that much more important. Then there are the more chaotic RPG games like Hylics 2 and Library of Ruina which force you to look directly into the abyss as you struggle to survive in horrible lands.

Hylics 2

A group of bizarre and ugly enemies standing before the party members

(Image credit: Mason Lindroth)

The eldritch party members are back again in a sequel to the original Hylics. Hylics 2 resumes with the gang as they try to prevent the resurrection of the tyrant king Gibby, the main villain from the previous game.

Much like Hylics, Hylics 2 uses extremely detailed claymation but this time it’s all rendered in Unity engine instead of RPG Maker. This means that even more detail has been added to all the in-game models, battle and enemy animations are far more fleshed out, and there are tons of new gameplay elements including 3D platforming. Of course, the Gesture system makes its return but with added mechanics like Perish and Charge Up.

There’s also plenty of daylight horror, including the reveal that the protagonist Wayne is part of a whole colony of 'Waynes' of varying shapes and designs. Early on, you come across a dying Wayne blob in the desert. Hylics 2 is a much more expanded version of the original game and more than worth checking out.

Check out Hylics 2 on Steam

Mouth Sweet

a character standing next to a corpse, reading a note attached to it

(Image credit: LOVE games)

Indie horror has gotten along with retro-styled graphics like a house on fire, as not only is it much easier to work with but it lends itself far better to the genre than hyperrealistic visuals. And Mouth Sweet is no different, a Game Boy-stylized game about a new hire for a mega-corporation forced to perform increasingly horrible tasks while fending off invisible monsters in the haunting corridors.

What sets this game apart isn’t only the visuals, but how vital the sounds are. Because the enemies are invisible, you must listen carefully for audio cues in the environment to tell where they’re located and when is the right time to shoot. It’s implemented surprisingly well and, once you get accustomed to the gameplay, it’s easier to nail the timing.

It’s the perfect pairing of limited visuals and sound design that really makes this game work. And even as you better master the combat, it does little to alleviate the tension and fear as you hurry through the company hallways on the way to your next arbitrary and terrifying work assignment. Also, the ending will ring true for anyone who’s worked in an abusive job environment.

Check out Mouth Sweet on 

She Dreams Elsewhere 

three characters with varying black hairstyles standing

(Image credit: Studio Zevere)

Another retro-styled game, She Dreams Elsewhere is a horror RPG in which you play as Thalia who is forced to survive in a horrific dream world filled with monsters as she confronts her inner nightmares. It’s a subversive title with incredible art direction and soundtrack and tackles mental illness in an authentic and visceral way while being literally one of the blackest games I have ever played (and this is said with the highest praise).

She Dreams Elsewhere is a game that combines mental illness and black culture in a way that I’ve never seen in a game before. For those who suffer from anxiety or depression, like Thalia, seeing her traversing it as it goes completely ignored in her own community is gripping, tragic, and oh-so-real. And seeing black culture represented in such an authentic way, from the characters to the music to the dialogue, is such a treat.

And to say nothing of the gorgeous pixel art at work in the character designs and intricate environments, as well as the well-paced horror elements that build the atmosphere so well. Then there’s the excellent battle system that incorporates blackness into the gameplay mechanics in a fully organic way.

Check out She Dreams Elsewhere on Steam 


a giant mansion in the middle of a forest

(Image credit: grouflon)

VEILED pulls its graphic style from the old 1-bit PC titles of the early 90s, and the eldritch horror is enhanced tremendously from it. You play as a parent searching for their child, in which the hunt leads them to a long abandoned house. 

From there you must survive the dangers the house hides while solving various puzzles to unlock its mysteries. The visuals are stunning and convey both detail and lack of it through the limited graphics and black and white palette. There’s a constant feeling of dread, not only through the disturbing sights but the overarching plot of the missing child hanging like a guillotine.

There are especially dangerous sections of the game that force you to escape various rooms as massive black tentacles chase you. These are particularly terrifying, as they’re the only timed sections and result in an instant game over if caught. The sound design enhances this and the general tone of the game, creating a unique experience that’s simultaneously nostalgic.

Check out VEILED on 

Library of Ruina 

a chaotic battle between the librarians and invited guests

(Image credit: ProjectMoon)

Last week saw us delve into the chaos of Lobotomy Corporation, and this week we’re looking at its sequel, Library of Ruina. Unlike the roguelike resource management gameplay of the previous work, this game is a deck-building RPG that follows Angela from the first game and newcomer Roland.

Combat takes place during Reception, after guests have accepted their invitations to the library. You build a deck of cards that dictate the actions that you can take during a Reception, and during battle dice rolls that influence the combat results. It’s an incredibly complex but synergistic battle system that results in some truly pulse-pounding fights.

The horror, just as in the first game, is all-encompassing and inescapable, as you’re living in a hell world. But what sets this game apart from most others is that you’re playing as villain protagonists who are profited from others' pain, and guaranteed there will be plenty of guests who you sympathize with as they march to their unwitting deaths. But the setting and story are so compelling that you feel compelled to discover more.

Check out Library of Ruina on Steam 

Allisa James
Computing Staff Writer

Named by the CTA as a CES 2023 Media Trailblazer, Allisa is a Computing Staff Writer who covers breaking news and rumors in the computing industry, as well as reviews, hands-on previews, featured articles, and the latest deals and trends. In her spare time you can find her chatting it up on her two podcasts, Megaten Marathon and Combo Chain, as well as playing any JRPGs she can get her hands on.