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The Tartarus Key Is a PS1-Inspired Horror Game Out This Month

(Image by Vertical Reach)

A new horror game traps players in another mansion that won’t be easy to escape from.

The Tartarus Key is a throwback horror game to the ’90s. The game will release on May 31 for $19.99 for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One and PC through Steam and GOG.

Inspired by horror-themed games like Resident Evil and Silent Hill from the original PlayStation, The Tartarus Key features 32-bit era, low resolution 3D graphics. The game is a narrative experience centered around puzzle solving instead of combat. It’s being developed by indie studio Vertical Reach, a two-person operation based in Portugal with Leonor Parra and Kevin Colegate.

The main character in the game is Alex Young, a woman who awakes trapped in a mansion with no memory of how she got there from her apartment. Players will be locked in rooms throughout the mansion until they can solve increasingly complex puzzles and riddles to escape and gain more clues. There are other people also trapped inside the mansion that Alex can choose to save or not. The Tartarus Key will have three different endings. The game is played from the first-person perspective.

While The Tartarus Key takes its look from the PS1 days, Vertical Reach isn’t fully replicating that hardware or its limitations to create the game. The Tartarus Key is designed for widescreen and features modern shadow effects, more objects in the world, newer post-processing effects for the game’s atmosphere and more detailed character models.

The game’s composer is Josie Brechner, who has also done music for many releases like Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King (2017), Mixolumia (2020), Frog Fractions: Hop’s Iconic Hat (2020) and open source tracks for developers to use.

The Tartarus Key was announced in June 2021. The studio’s two previous releases were puzzle games Tangrams Deluxe (2017) and Yuso (2018).

The Tartarus Key is being published by the California-based Armor Games Studio, an independent company who have put out titles like Bear and Breakfast (2022), Islets (2022), The Last Stand: Aftermath (2021), Swords & Souls: Neverseen (2019) and Pinstripe (2017).

There’s a demo of The Tartarus Key available on Steam. The game can also be wishlisted.

Watch the game’s latest trailer:

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