Saturday, October 28, 2017

Episode 140: Horror

Episode 140 of Roguelike Radio, where we discuss Horror in Roguelikes, with Darren 'Gruesome' Grey, Rob 'Neoliberalism' Parker, Eben 'Phantom' Howard and Mark 'Medusa' Johnson.

You can download the mp3 of the podcast, play it in the embedded player below, or you can follow us on iTunes.

Topics Discussed
  • Golden Krone Hotel released on Steam in time for Hallowe'en (was previously early access)
  • Horror as a theme (eg. Golden Krone Hotel) vs horror as a type of gameplay (eg. Infra Arcana)
  • Lovecraft theme in Infra Arcana, with difficult monsters best avoided and a magic system linked to insanity
  • AliensRL, creating atmosphere through ammo scarcity and hard enemies
  • Effective jumpscare / surprise in procedural games
  • Weeping Angels, a 7DRL with scary gameplay based on a Doctor Who episode
  • Improving the feeling of horror through information scarcity, in particular with enemies, making them unknowable
  • Make the player feel insecure about what they own and what they know
  • Giving enemies abilities unusual to the player, such as walking through walls
  • Inspiration from AAA horror games such as Silent Hill
  • Darren is not an animal person
  • Body horror and body warping
  • The horror of the infinity (Abyss in Crawl)
  • How to achieve psychological horror in roguelikes
  • Continuing to have an impact on the player across multiple playthroughs
  • How roguelikes naturally horrify us with permadeath and natural tension
  • Playing with meta information, real world information, knowledge of user's computer
  • What each panellist would dress up as for Hallowe'en
  • Roguelikes discussed: Golden Krone Hotel, Infra Arcana, DoomRL, AliensRL, Weeping AngelsDwarf FortressCaves of Qud, Broken Bottle, Run from the Shadow, Tales of Maj'Eyal
  • Other games discussed: Shadow of Mordor, Etrion, System Shock, Binding of Isaac, Darkest Dungeon, Dark Souls, Bloodborne, Don't Starve, Silent Hill, Din's Curse
  • PS: Cogmind is now out on Steam too - go check it out!

Join us next time for more procedurally generated discussion!


  1. True horror RLs are few and far between — I think there's a load of potential in the space for devs to play with. Hopefully Escape from Aeon will begin to touch on some of those things, particularly body horror. :)

    Also, to the RLR powers that be — as an experiment for the next episode, could you give recording with Reaper a shot? It's definitely important for the source audio to be clear and unclipped, but a mono recording in 2017 is tough on the ears. One ear in particular. Audacity can mix to stereo, but honestly Reaper gives a lot more flexibility in a small footprint. It's technically a DAW, yes, and there's a learning curve, but it'll do everything Audacity does and much more. (not affiliated with Reaper or anything, just thought it was worth a mention).

  2. Sound only goes through one ear? Weird, didn't realise it was doing that.

    I'll check out Reaper. We usually don't use Audacity to record by the way - it's just for editing.

  3. I confirm I also got a seemingly mono audio. Apart from that, great episode, I enjoyed the interchanges, and it was not scary :)

  4. Sounded pure left-ear mono on my phone, so I couldn't hear it over the train sounds on my commute today. Testing more closely on the computer I'm able to hear a mumbled buzz on the right ear which somewhat dilutes the single-side feeling. But that's two machines - pretty sure something is off in the mixing this time around.

    Love to see another episode coming out though! Looking forward to a listen when I have a quiet environment.

    1. Turns out I made an error in editing that led to the mono getting screwed up. Fixed now!

  5. While Duskers is a bit more of a roguelite than a rougelike, it has some pretty good subtle horror elements. Good use of meaningful, suspenseful ambient sound (you can identify enemies through doors by sound). The attack mechanic of a one enemy type jumps at you, could be considered a jump scare. Some enemies can "go through walls" that the player cannot like you discussed, by breaking doors or simply going through them. This also let's the enemies slowly sneak up on you and scare the hell out of you when you notice.

    You never really do know precisely what enemy is behind any door, and have to handle each carefully.

  6. I don't believe you guys talked about horror that uses the fact it's a game to mess with the player without bringing up Eternal Darkness.

  7. Cthulu style horror roguelike:

    You have 8 ability slots. Each one starts filled a useful ability like

    Slash: Removes limbs from target, or cuts vegetation

    You see monsters as a total mess, their %hdaBHak changing each turn to illustrate a different feature (or maybe show as a different creature you recognize?). If you get lucky and say, B is showing and B means limbs or has limbs, you can use your slash.

    However you could also Sacrifice your Memory, LOSING the Slash ability.. and now you can permenantly recognize that creature as a symbol.. unfortunately you can't Slash its limbs anymore because you have to hold its grotesque memory in your mind. The risk-reward comes from responding to seeing what the creature is and using your knowledge to avoid it (or use other Skills effectively).

    At certain points in the game you could shed your Unholy Memory to restore a Skill.

    Which Skill slot would be sacrificed rotates, incrementing by 1 everytime you move or pause. An "Attention" slot would highlight to show what your Attention was wandering to and what could be sacrificed.

    This fits the theme of "overwhelming otherworldly terror that causes suffering just to conceive of it" in Cthulu theme stories while maintaining the strategy of roguelikes.

    originally posted on

  8. Holy crap, hadnt remembered Operation Inner Space in at least a decade!