October is a month for all things spooky. With that in mind it’s the perfect time to delve into solo developer Puppet Combo’s back catalogue of PSX inspired survival horrors. We spoke with the studio about what inspires them, how they started and what’s next. We also got to play Night Shift, one half of their new release, currently in Alpha.

Cliqist: Hey, lets start things off by getting to know you and the studio? Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, your studios goals etc?

Puppet Combo: Sure, I’m Ben and I make horror games. I guess the best way to describe most of them is 5th gen style with an 80’s horror spin. It’s mostly just me at the moment but I’m hoping to expand into a real studio soon. I guess the goal is to be the video game version of Troma.

What shapes the games you make?

As far as the projects that I pick, I usually attempt to try concepts that haven’t been done often, or ones I think I can improve upon or bring new ideas to.

I really love the entire feel of your work, it’s grim and dirty but in a really fun sort of B-movie way. What inspires you outside of gaming to create what you do?

Thanks! My main inspirations are horror movies, true crime and urban legends as far as aesthetics and story lines go. Or sometimes just random ideas that pop into my head

Was it a conscious decision to imitate PSX graphics, or did that come about naturally? I personally love them as nothing has scared me more than early polygonal games glitching out in weird ways.

Luckily a lot of people feel that way! 5th gen graphics and horror seem to go hand in hand at creating an unsettling atmosphere. It was kind of a happy accident actually.

I started dabbling in game design when I was in middle school (early 2000s) so I learned on a variant of the Quake engine. I made a few games and demos here and there but never stuck with it as a serious thing.

Fast forward to 2011, I was at a job I hated and started thinking about what I was going to do with my life. Game design was on my list so I picked up the decade old engine I had used and started making new stuff, which had to stay low res due to the tech limitations. I didn’t really keep up with gaming after the 5th gen so I think I just naturally looked at the games from my childhood as a source of inspiration.

The Past & Present

How did you get into making games? Are you self taught or did you study at college/university?

Yes, I’m self taught. I’ve never actually had a programming job or anything.

What’re you working on at the moment?

Too many things honesty haha. My two main October projects are Stay out of the House and Nun Massacre (which just came out on itch). One is about being kidnapped by a cannibal serial killer and the other is about a nun massacre.

Gameplay wise, they’re basically stealth, puzzle games. You sneak around the house, avoid the killer and solve puzzles to escape.

As it’s October, what are some of your favourite horror films and games?

Glad you asked this one, always fun to name favourites! Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a huge one. Definitely spoke to me the most in terms of what a scary slasher movie is. It’s basically a perfect film. Also love George Romero’s Martin (I’m not generally a vampire fan, but the realistic spin and masterful direction make it irresistible. And that ending) and a huge fan of Prince of Darkness, which I consider John Carpenter’s masterpiece (and that’s really saying something for the guy who made Halloween, the Thing and Big Trouble in Little China)

But I can enjoy almost all horror on some level. Shot on video flicks like Todd Sheet’s Zombie Bloodbath series, Sledgehammer, Video Violence were some of my favourites growing up and a are still huge source of inspiration.

Puppet Combos entire back catalogue is available from their website. If you’re a fan of early survival horror games we strongly recommend trying them out!