Working the night shift at an old VHS store located in a dangerous neighborhood is a thankless job. Even having a nice boss who leaves me films to watch after my shifts, the trauma of dealing with the abnormal customers and daunting criminals who rock up to the store on a nightly basis is pushing me to the edge. But despite my anxiety constantly being through the roof, I still have a job to do.
The VHS Paradise is a new itch.io indie horror game that places players into the shoes of a shopkeeper trying to last the night selling and renting out films to loyal customers. The aim is simple: tend to paying customers and keep an eye out for those who will try to do a runner and steal from the store. But be warned: some of the criminals are more dangerous than others.
You’ll be able to complete this short horror game in under 10 minutes, which means you have plenty of opportunities to replay it and see if you can get a different ending - if you’re brave enough. There are three final outcomes to chase, and each will leave you somewhat scarred.
During my first shift at the VHS store, I came across a lot of quirky individuals. While most of them just wanted to have a quick chat, talking about their kid's birthday parties or their passion for collecting VHS tapes, there were certainly a couple of oddballs who made me feel a little uneasy.
Let’s be honest, a shift in customer service wouldn’t be complete without a stranger coming up to you and saying things that you never thought you’d hear from another human being, so it wasn’t too surprising when an old man named Kyle started talking to me about his favorite raunchy films. In what felt like a futile attempt not to get murdered, I chose the nicest dialogue option and had a short conversation with him, ending on what I thought was a nice note. Unfortunately, it became clear later on that Kyle didn’t think the conversation was very nice at all.
After a few more customers came and went, some of whom I had to chase down in the parking lot as they attempted to steal a copy of Garfield: The Movie, I began closing up. Fortunately, the clean-up was pretty smooth, besides tending to a faulty car alarm, and as I had time to kill, I decided to treat myself and watch a film that my boss had left in the employee room for me to take a look at.
I went down to the dark basement below the shop to sit on a lumpy sofa and relax for an hour or so after my shift. Once the movie was over, I got up to head home, but that’s when I noticed something.
In the corner of my eye, I saw a vague shape that resembled a person, like a dark figure with something over its head watching me. But, to my terror, as soon as I spun around to get a better look, it ran toward me at full speed. Tired and now frightened, I definitely didn’t deal with the situation very well, wailing like a Furby about to run out of battery. I sprinted up the stairs as fast as I could, but at the top, my stamina ran out. The thing chasing me was right behind me. I could feel its arms stretched out to yank me back down into the darkness, but I couldn’t turn around; even the slightest hesitation would spell death for me.
Luckily, through determination (and after nearly destroying my ‘w’ key), I made it to the safety of my car and quickly sped off into the night. But sadly, the horror wasn’t over just yet. After driving for a while, I came across a bus slowly coasting along ahead of me. As it began to stop to pick up passengers, I attempted to hit the brakes, but the car didn’t slow down. It was only after I had hit the back of the bus at full speed, which instantly killed my character, that I realized my pursuer had cut my brakes - which had been what had set off the car alarm I dealt with while locking up.
Wanting some answers to what I had done to deserve an early grave, I jumped back into The VHS Paradise with one sole intention: this time, I would confront my attacker. After another job was completed and a shift well done, I sat down and put the same movie into the VHS player. This time, when the masked assailant came for me, I tried to fight back but, somewhat unsurprisingly, got knocked out instantly. When I eventually woke, I found myself, strapped up to a chair in front of a TV playing an obscene film, and to my right sat the assailant - Kyle.
Old fashioned scares
Despite now needing to recover from the ultimate betrayal 9though admittedly, that of complete stranger I had only just met), it goes to show that The VHS Paradise is a fantastic horror game with a quick but rewarding turnaround. While there are only a few endings, and it's short and snappy to play through, the journey to each of them is impressively fun for such a small game and keeps you coming back to try again.
While The VHS Paradise won’t scare anyone beyond belief, it certainly packs a punch at moments throughout each shift. If you’re looking for something new to pass the time, or want to relive a customer service job of old (with a scary twist), or just keep yourself up at night, then this indie horror game is absolutely worth trying.
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Elie is a Features Writer for TechRadar Gaming, here to write about anything new or slightly weird. Before writing for TRG, Elie studied for a Masters at Cardiff University JOMEC in International Journalism and Documentaries – spending their free time filming short docs or editing the gaming section for their student publications.
Elie’s first step into gaming was through Pokémon but they've taken the natural next step in the horror genre. Any and every game that would keep you up at night is on their list to play - despite the fact that one of Elie’s biggest fears is being chased.