The Horror of Salazar House (originally titled The Enigma of Salazar House) is a 2020 Gothic, Italian horror-inspired haunted house game with 1-bit pixel art graphics and rotoscope animated cut-scenes, created by Chilean developer Ignacio Maldonado, also known as Maldo19, and released by Torture Star Video—a production subsidiary of American independent game developers Puppet Combo.
Elisa, a young reporter, is sent to investigate the abandoned mansion of renowned author Jaime Salazar, who disappeared, along with his entire family, in May 1986. Setting out to find the truth of what happened in that house, the rambunctious journalist gets a lot more than she bargained for when she realizes the Salazar House is not completely deserted!
Following Torture Star Video and Puppet Combo’s signature style, The Horror of Salazar House’s design hearkens back to an older style of point-and-click puzzle adventure games such as Mystery House (1980), Tass Times in Tonetown (1986), and many more made for the Apple II, ZX Spectrum, and other similar systems. Furthermore, the game features a palette of binary colours, similar to consoles such as the Virtual Boy.
However, unlike the searing, migraine-inducing graphics of this ill-fated piece of gaming history, the game implements gradation to ease the transition from colour to black and allows for a comfortable experience whilst playing. The game also features a dynamic palette to add some variation to the game’s look by swapping between multiple colours throughout, though this can be changed in the options to stick with a single style.
Furthermore, The Horror of Salazar House features rotoscope animation to bring this pixel art world to life. Although not as smoothly animated as other throw-back games to feature similar animation such as Faith: The Trilogy, these cut-scenes still successfully imbue a natural level of movement—delivering a disturbing uncanny valley feel to the game.
As The Horror of Salazar House is an incredibly short game—taking me only 90 minutes to reach its ending—going into story details is likely to spoil the experience, so much will remain disclosed in this regard. That being said, what can be described is the story’s basis around loss, the perversion of the human body, and its inspiration from Italian giallo slashers of the 70s and 80s. In addition, the game features 8 different endings for the player to uncover—dependent on the player’s actions—which certainly extends the game’s initial short playtime.
Additionally, The Horror of Salazar House offers players a short tutorial mission in the form of a prequel to the main story. Not only does this brief tutorial act as a means to intuitively acclimate the player to game mechanics such as item use, movement, and hiding (your only means of defense), this level introduces the main protagonist and the reasoning behind her exploration of this dilapidated mansion. It is undoubtedly recommended that first-time players of the game start here.
When it comes to game-play, The Horror of Salazar House follows the incredibly archaic style of point-and-click puzzle-adventure functionality, featuring a context-sensitive fixed camera to display the game world, represented by pre-rendered images with prompts for collectible or interactive items such as keys or doors needed to progress the story. Each of these pre-rendered backgrounds constitutes as a single cell on a grid-based system that makes up the titular house, and the player can navigate these cells with a 4 directional control system similar to Ultima II by clicking the directional buttons or WASD.
Through traversing this dangerous location, collecting the necessary items, and finding clues, the player must try to uncover the mystery surrounding the house and its past inhabitants. However, throughout this investigation, the player will have to face the wrath of a deranged woman brandishing a kitchen knife who is out for your blood.
A competent throwback to a simpler time in gaming, The Horror of Salazar House is an incredible homage to the antiquated point-and-click games of the past. With its simplistic style, two-tone colour scheme, and short, yet enthralling story, the game is sure to satiate fans of old-school gaming and throwback games alike. Although the game is relatively short, its well-crafted writing and the suspenseful atmosphere is sure to bring you back for more.
Check out the found-footage-style trailer for the game below:
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Hey there, I’m Jim and I’m located in London, UK. I am a Writer and Managing Director here at Grimoire of Horror. A lifelong love of horror and writing has led me down this rabbit hole, allowing me to meet many amazing people and experience some truly original artwork. I specialise in world cinema, manga/graphic novels, and video games but will sometime traverse into the unknown in search of adventure.