I scare easily, but for some reason I thought it would be an excellent idea to make my first game in the horror genre.

Babylon was inspired by Asylum Jam – a game jam with just one simple rule: “You should not use asylums, psychiatric institutes, medical professionals or violent/antipathic/’insane’ patients as settings or triggers.” Aiming to show how effective horror can exist without relying on stereotypes about mental health, the jam spawned a host of terrifying entries.

Being new to building anything like a game, I decided to start with research. I started by playing some horror games (why did I think Amnesia was a good choice?) before turning to watching some Let’s Plays, before deciding that reading was probably more my level. Certain trends began to appear – that the unknown is scarier than something you’re aware of, and that it’s the mystery, not the reveal that’s important. Maybe that’s why the dark suddenly began to seem like it hid thousands of horrifying secrets.

Undergoing the pressure of getting a game finished in 48 hours makes me respect the creators of these games even more. I’m used to writing quickly (thanks, philosophy degree!) but having never used Twine before, I had a steep learning curve. It’s pretty simple to get the basics, but the more macros I found I wanted, the more complicated it got. Finding a last-minute team of bug-testers was a challenge, and finally finishing and submitting was all too similar to submitting that last minute essay at the end of a crisis. With all that said, I’d definitely do it again. Though maybe not a horror game. Seriously, these creators must have nerves of steel.

If, unlike me, you’re ready for an afternoon of fear, check out these games:

poundHer Pound of Flesh is our favourite game of the jam. It’s made in Twine and has a content warning for body horror. Depending on your path, it may contain blood, self-harm, violence, and death. Now your trusty reviewer doesn’t find body horror all that scary (jump scares, however…) but given my handy test subject nearly threw up, I’m confident in just how good this work of horror is. It’s graphic, disturbing and worked around a really unusual and interesting concept, all conveyed via text alone. Seriously impressive, and one of the best horror games I’ve played.

asylumjamgamesThe Uxchilan Horror is a Twine/Unity game. The blend of two different engines enhances the atmosphere of the game, combining imagery with intelligent prose reminiscent of Lovecraft himself. Not to be missed.

Tempus Fugit is a Unity-based game available to play both in browser or by download. It’s short, surreal and has an unusual black-and-white art style. The monster mechanic is fascinating – you never see it, but its effect on the world is all you can use to escape.

Logolith is another unity game that you can download. It’s also completely terrifying. You start off with little explanation, a tiny amount of light and then are left to your own devices in a world full of things lurking in the mist. Have fun!

With nearly sixty entries (and some late ones trickling in!) there’s lots to look through, and if you fancy scaring yourself silly you should check out the submissions page.