Ultra Indie Daily Dose: Risu Makes Me Not Unafraid

Hello, you glorious gluttons for all things indie horror! Are you just starving for the newest of the new, the most unknownest of the unknown? If so, you’ve come to the right place. Welcome to the Ultra-Indie Daily Dose! In this series, we’re going to pick a new game every day from an indie horror creator you’ve probably never heard of. No million-dollar budgets or factory productions. This is the space for the little guy with not but a developer toolkit and a dream. So if you’re down to roll the dice on something different, then stick around and check it out!

Developed by Ryan Trawick, Risu is a PSX-styled horror game in the spirit of old-school horror titles. Created for the Haunted PS1 game jam through August 2020 it has since developed into a full project planned to release this year. 

Players will control Risu Ishikawa, who has moved in with her estranged father due to the death of her mother. Based on the limited demo and game description Risu is based in a pre-Millenium Japanese town and through supernatural events, our character finds herself in a condemned hollow version of that town and must escape or resolve the mystery behind the infernal residents.

Stylistic elements in Risu lean into the PSX visuals. The inventory uses an item wheel with models of often generic items, the rough translation of them into game models fits with the surreal warping of real objects into low-resolution models. The in-game phone is a treat being a classic flip phone with a full plastic chassis. The dated building is excellent to capture the location as a historic structure sprung from a post-war Japan but still with its decades of wear. It’s a building that persists on the precipice of modern and pre-modern.

Let’s not forget the stapled CRT screen and low-resolution screen render. Some titles can be painful to look at with this filters especially when combined however this was never a problem playing the demo. The opacity of Risu Ishikawa and the pixel filling around her make for a distinct silhouette that’s pleasant to track and keeps in tune with the game’s visual style.

Some players enjoy tank controls however Risu opts for the more modern directional movement. It’s not a fault as unlike Resident Evil there’s no dedicated attack or shooting mechanics in the demo. The game is more concerned with the player navigating the floorplan of buildings and possible cat and mouse sequences that the description hints may be in the full game.

In the fashion of early horror games, each room has a unique camera angle and the slight character tracking is a nice cinematic topping. The lighting is unique and supports the alpenglow of schools in their after-hours limbo. Interacting with objects is no casual feat, dead silence is broken as each drawer screeches open. I held my breath in anticipation of someone or something to come running to the sound. 

If you’d like to try Risu you can download the demo yourself. Also wishlist it on steam to support the discoverability.