Horror games on RPG Maker. How scary they are

The mechanics in most horror games remain the same: jump scares, wandering in the dark, flashing lights, being chased by creepy creatures, a oppressive atmosphere. Will a pixel game made in RPG Maker be able to use these techniques and scare the player just as much as its counterparts?

Horror games on RPG Maker. How scary they are

What is RPG Maker

This is a convenient toolkit for creating Japanese role-playing games in the old Final Fantasy format (up to the seventh part). It’s simple enough for beginners to use, yet flexible. There are versions for PC and consoles, and can be purchased on Steam. 

Power of Habit

The rules in games on RPG Maker are extremely simple. In most cases, we begin our journey as an adventurer at the very moment when a great evil decides to take over the world. We choose a name for him and start the game. We walk around the area, communicate with the characters, recruit other adventurers of different classes (warrior, mage, archer, priest, etc.) into our squad. From time to time you need to solve puzzles of varying degrees of difficulty.

When confronted with monsters wandering around the map, the battle mode begins. We see in front of us static images of enemies, in most cases these are goblins, orcs, spiders, rats, wolves, bandits. We hit each other on the head until one side wins. After the battle, we receive the resources and experience needed to increase the level. We repeat until we become a walking machine of destruction, and go kill the local god/dragon. 

In the process, we fill up a special scale that can be used for powerful techniques. Or it is replenished with the help of potions. Health and mana are also restored by potions, which can also increase the characteristics of the squad, negatively affect opponents, and even resurrect dead squad members. There shouldn’t be any problems with resources, because… Any self-respecting adventurer will grab everything that isn’t nailed to the floor.

Most of these games take place in either a fantasy world or a steampunk setting. But these rules are not always followed, and in some places you can find high-tech laboratories containing rocket launchers and blasters.

In horror games on RPG Maker, these rules can be safely thrown out the window (except for puzzles). Monsters will kill with one hit, you won’t be able to fight them in the usual way, you just have to look for a way to outwit them.

The game Ao Oni uses very sneaky techniques. Under normal conditions, when entering the menu, the game is paused, allowing you to collect your thoughts. Here we notice that a monster has appeared in our group, which leads to a chase. On our side are not demigods, but ordinary people. And they simply die.

Mind games

In most cases we are dealing with monotonous sprites. It’s just that different games use them in unusual ways. Due to the lack of detailed textures, our brains tend to use their imagination, and games like Corpse Party focus on this. Corpse Party tells the story of a group of schoolchildren who find themselves in an alternate version of school filled with ghosts. In it, the description of objects and corpses is replete with unpleasant details. When you die, the screen goes dark, we hear the sound of breaking bones and tearing flesh, and then a jump scare. 

A person cannot remain in a state of stress for a long time. During the game, he needs a place where he can rest and collect his thoughts. In Resident Evil, this role is played by the room with the typewriter. Relaxing music, sorting through things in your inventory. The player relaxes and can be scared again. Even Left 4 Dead, despite its fast-paced gameplay, has safe zones. Few horror games dare to keep the pressure on like the first Dead Space. We are completely alone, and the necromorphs are attacking from a wide variety of positions, including ventilation. Even near the save point, Isaac can be attacked. 

In RPG Maker horror games, this system works differently. These games have a lot of text. And as long as we read, we are safe. Usually. As a result, the player relaxes, but remains focused, because reading requires attention. This is especially effective in cases where our interlocutor turns out to be hostile, and after the end of the conversation we have to run away.

No restrictions

The special beauty of horror games on RPG Maker is that every pixel can turn out to be a death trap. Mad Father and The Witch’s House are great examples   . In such games, anything can attack the protagonist: statues, paintings, tapestries, pianos, plush toys, dolls, a cleaver floating in the air… In Ao Oni  , we are pursued by predatory purple creatures. Despite their large size, they can appear from anywhere, be it a fireplace or our group.

In RPG Maker, the view is from above and we always move at the same speed (taking into account running, which consumes stamina), except for those moments when there are obstacles or a special surface in our way that slow down our movement. When we see a monster, our brain automatically calculates the time it will take us to get to the exit (if we know where it is). It’s like drawing a line in a squared notebook – from “A” to “B”. Where “A” represents the infernal creation of hunger and hatred, and “B” is us. The calculation is made, the chase has begun. We already have a rough plan of action, but then our path is blocked by furniture, and the door refuses to open. Unlike first-person horror games, we see the pursuer approaching. This creates enormous tension. 

An excellent example is Purgatory 2 , where we are chased many times by demons who can dash, and we must perform certain actions to get out of the room. Or Mad Father , when a father with a chainsaw is chasing us, and then we see his face distorted by madness on the entire screen. And all this is accompanied by a chilling laugh. 

Purgatory 2 also has an interesting system of temporary omnipotence. For the most part, we play as Ebel, whose only weapon is a pipe. And it’s almost useless. But periodically we take control of Enri. And she has a demonic ax that allows her to turn most opponents into mincemeat. True, it tends to break, after which we turn into an ordinary 16-year-old girl, but the problem with demons remains…

Good horror games on RPG Maker

  • Ao Oni
  • Mad Father
  • The Witch’s House
  • One
  • Corpse Party
  • Purgatory 1-2
  • Turtle Head


RPG Maker games have enough ways to scare players to be considered full-fledged horror games. Especially considering that the vast majority of these games are made by the Japanese. And these guys have enough imagination to create creepy games even with such simple tools. 

by Abdullah Sam
I’m a teacher, researcher and writer. I write about study subjects to improve the learning of college and university students. I write top Quality study notes Mostly, Tech, Games, Education, And Solutions/Tips and Tricks. I am a person who helps students to acquire knowledge, competence or virtue.

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