RPG Maker and indie horror games have an amazing symbiotic relationship. The engine is relatively cheap and easy to use, even for those who have little experience with coding games. It also has enough flexibility to let creators create wonderful 2D adventures, either as an RPG or another genre. Horror itself also remains ripe for interesting and experimental stories that best suit a medium like gaming.
Many RPG Maker horror gems receive the recognition they deserve while others remain highly underrated. Both camps deserve recognition for their respective contributions, no matter how deeply buried the hidden gems are.
Whether you’re a newcomer or familiar with horror games in RPG Maker, here are some I think you should check out.
Screenshot via Miro Haverinen
Fear and Hunger 2: Termina
Both Fear and Hunger 2 and its predecessor have recently exploded in popularity due to their relentless difficulty and a rich, dark world. Both feature adventures that remain dedicated to their grim tone, but are not for the faint of heart. The sequel, however, seems to have come out on top with its expansive character roster and unique setting.
Fear and Hunger 2 is set in a world inspired by WWII Europe and follows several individuals who explore the city of Prehevil as they head toward an ominous tower. A jester-like figure guides them, stating they have three days to reach it and partake in the Termina Festival.
It’s a strong premise for a survival horror game, but Fear and Hunger 2 amplifies the genre’s limited resources and crushing atmosphere to 11. This is a brutal and horrific time that is deeply frustrating. Yet there’s magic in its relentlessness, and the charm especially shines after the fifth time losing 30 minutes of progress.
Screenshot via lol
.flow is one of the most famous Yume Nikki fan games, and for good reason. It’s a haunting experience that doubles down on its inspiration’s horror elements.
Although it leans quite a bit on its far grungier atmosphere, .flow is still an enchantingly macabre experience. There’s a focus on decay that gives a stark impression that the world itself is falling apart.
It can also be a pain to run. Unlike other older RPG Maker classics, .flow doesn’t have any ports, making it hard to launch on modern computers. Most of my experience with it has been with nightmarish troubleshooting and crashes due to having hardware newer than a decade old. Developer lol has updated the game over the years, so hopefully current builds make this gem more accessible.
Screenshot via kouri
Ib is amongst the most popular RPG Maker horror games and for good reason. Its haunted art gallery setting is unique and is aided by a striking art style and narrative that effectively takes advantage of it.
I haven’t played Ib, but whenever I talk with anyone about the best RPG Maker horror games, it always finds its way into the conversation. For everyone who played it, it clearly left a lasting impression on them.
Although Ib originally came out in 2012 with RPG Maker 2003, it received a remake in 2022. Not only were the visuals updated, but new content was added, notably new rooms and endings. However well-regarded a game is, updated versions help its popularity endure as its fanbase has more room to grow.
Screenshot via Makoto Serise
Peret em Heru: For the Prisoners
Peret em Heru is an oldie but holds up well for its age. This 1998 title follows a group of archeologists and tourists as they descend into a cursed Egyptian temple and face its horrors.
Despite its age and quality placing it alongside other classics like Corpse Party, Peret em Heru seemed to resurge in popularity. YouTuber Marsh made an extensive video covering it, and his coverage is by far the most popular concerning the game.
Some elements helping it remain distinct are its branching paths and ’90s anime art style. As Ayuto Asaki, players need to decide the fate of the other cast members with clever preparation and smart decision-making. It’s an ancient entry in RPG Maker history, but at least this gem emerged from the sands that buried it.
Screenshot via AstralShift
Pocket Mirror is a fascinating gothic horror title that takes a fairytale-like approach to the RPG Maker horror flair of exploration/puzzle solving. Originally a 2016 title, this year’s remaster adds new content and updates, giving its characters a fresh coat of paint.
While it uses some common tropes in storytelling, like having an amnesiac lead, its strong characters and creepily playful presentation make it compelling to see. The narrative becomes far more powerful and tragic when seeing how it connects with its prequel, Little Goody Two Shoes.
It’s also a sizable RPG Maker horror game for its scope, clocking in at around 5 hours for a first playthrough, with probably double or triple that to achieve every unlockable and see every ending. Even if only played through once, Pocket Mirror is worth checking out for its strong story and wonderful style.
Screenshot via OMOCAT
Omori is by far among the most popular RPG Maker horror games, which is remarkable given the anticipation it had. Before its 2019 release, Omori built a dedicated fanbase that followed its lengthy development that sometimes went years before any substantial update.
Thankfully it was a brilliant game, mixing powerful psychological horror with a colorful art style resembling a child’s coloring book. It also plays well as an RPG, utilizing an emotion system where certain emotions overpower others.
These factors helped Omori remain distinct among horror titles and RPGs alike. Its availability on modern platforms also makes it one of the most accessible RPG Maker horror games for a wider player base. Hopefully, its upcoming manga adaptation will be able to expand its fanbase even further.
Screenshot via kikiyama
Kikiyama’s seminal indie game is often one of the first games fans think of when regarding the RPG Maker horror game. Although surreal is a better descriptor for Yume Nikki rather than scary, its haunting imagery still leaves an impression almost two decades after its release.
Despite its often eerie atmosphere, Yume Nikki remains a remarkably cozy game to relax with. One of its endearing qualities has been how it handles exploration, especially as players are rarely in danger. The worst consequence anyone will face when wandering is needing to wake up in the real world.
Although many fan games help keep its legacy alive, Yume Nikki still stands on its own as a wonderful indie horror experience. While not on any platform outside PC, its Steam release helps make it accessible to anyone curious. I revisit it every few years because almost nothing has since recaptured its atmosphere or is incompatible with modern hardware.
Andrea has been playing games for around 20 years and has a particularly strong love for RPGs and survival horror. Her favorite game at the moment is Baldur’s Gate 3, but there will always be a special place for NieR and Signalis.
She graduated from Portland State University in 2021 with a degree in English and has written about games since 2022. When Andrea isn’t gaming in her free time, she’s likely either reading or having a coffee.
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