A VHS aesthetic paired with a haunting story
Chilla’s Art deserve some recognition at the moment. Composed solely of a two man development team they are able to develop and market some of the more haunting indie horrors on the gaming market at the moment. The Bathhouse brought to us by Chilla’s Art is a great example of indie horror at it’s prime. Join the main character as she works in a bathhouse in an impoverished Japanese town. The town is plagued with a spirit of some sort. Uncover the secrets and Join us here at VIBE as we review.
The story is a bit vague at points but really does encapsulate a horror feel from the onset. A young woman ends up in a rural Japanese village working in a bathhouse. Whilst there she is met with strange and sinister customers. Several, which discuss that the main character would be perfect for the offering. The story is slightly linear but starts off slow with routine game play of serving customers in the bathroom. However, things begin to ramp up.
After day 2 things start to develop and there is telltale signs of a dark entity haunting the bathhouse. The story is short but it has moments of quirkiness and uniqueness. For example, at one point the player must collect ingredients for the bathhouse owner and is tasked with purchasing a sweet potato. The player is greeted by a mysterious potato merchant who has a trivia section on sweet potatoes. Definitely, an unusual and unexpected twist!
Alluring Art style
Bathhouse creates a retro feel with the option to play with a VHS aesthetic. As a result of this, players can switch between VHS and whats deemed as normal. Traditional horror on a VHS was a different kind of vibe. However, I must admit I turned it off as at times it could be disorientating. Additionally, the art style is exactly what you would imagine for a rural Japanese town with wet streets and very simplistic houses. The bathhouse is greatly designed and has that feudal Japanese era feel to it. Thus, helping add to the possibility of a spirit haunting such an ancient place. Chilla’s Art is known for their unique style of art and have started to resonate through the indie horror community.
Bathhouse definitely enables replayability. However, it is entirely up to the player and whether or not they wish to achieve different endings to the one they require. The player must make different choices and carry out different actions to their other play through. As a result of this, it would be worth ensuring that the player takes notes of their actions while going through the game. Initially, when I first played the game I didn’t know there were several different endings. I look forward to going back through and I’m sure some other players will too.
Kooky Character Design
The character design in Chilla’s Art games are very similar. At first glance I found the characters hilarious. They aren’t refined or modeled particularly well. However, this adds to the unsettling nature of the game. Some characters like the landlord have no visible eyes and take a particular dislike to the player. Furthermore, this adds to the VHS aesthetic and retro feel to the game as they have not tried to aim for pleasing to the eye character models.
Single Player Experience
In a market over saturated with horror multiplayer games on PC. It is refreshing to have a single player experience for horror fans. Furthermore, the feelings of isolation and dread that is evoked when playing alone with the lights off is something no multiplayer can recreate. Any player looking for a unique horror experience should turn toward any of Chilla’s Art games. However, bathhouse would definitely be a good place to start. Like the majority of horror games there is not much difficulty posed and ultimately, no actual threat to progression. There are puzzles that are thought provoking. However, this breaks it up for the player and ensures a unique experience.
As always thank you for joining us on an other review. I hope spooky season is going well for you and that you get the chance to delve into the many indie horror titles that are out there. Starting with The Bathhouse would be a great idea and don’t forget to check out any other installments from Chilla’s Art. Recieving a high score for this game made perfect sense due to its unique experience and traditional horror feel. It is a short game but this is made up for multiple endings and several terrifying scares throughout. Not convinced? Check out the trailer below. However, if you are sold check out The Bathhouse today on Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/1956830/Chillas_Art_The_Bathhouse/
26, Indie Game connoisseur. Also a hamster mum, fiancée & working in the addiction field. Gaming and writing are my escape and comfort for when the world gets too much!
2 thoughts on “The Bathhouse: An Atmospheric Japanese Horror”
The town is from the late Showa era.
I wasn’t 100% sure! The mention of feudal Japan was more a description of a society with a class system and “commoners” living in poverty whilst the rich lived lavishly. I don’t think anywhere mentioned Showa so didn’t want to include it just in case. Thanks for pointing out & thanks for reading 😁