Grisly horror games aren’t often in my wheelhouse, but the scratchy, PS1-horror design of Bloodwash caught my eye. Very much in the vein of the recent vogue for haunted PS1 demo discs, it’s a creepy-as-hell first-person adventure, complete with inventory, full-length comics, voice acting, and yes indeed, jumpscares.
I enjoy horror movies, bar a few specifics. I love spooky, I love psychologically frightening, I love terrifying, I love fun gory. But I’ve never seen Saw, I’m never going to see Saw. When it comes to “torture porn”, I have zero interest whatsoever. I’ll happily watch a slasher flick, but I’ve no interest in seeing the victims gruesomely suffering. (I am kind of unnerved that anyone is.) I hope that sort of pinpoints my tolerance for anyone wondering if Bloodwash matches theirs. It’s a scary game, it’s a gross and gory game, and it has some pretty nasty themes, but it isn’t – despite the developer’s name, Torture Star Video – torture porn.
You play as a pregnant woman who needs to get some clothes washed. Her no-good drunken boyfriend is puking in the apartment bathroom, so she heads down to the basement to use the machine. Except it’s broken, meaning she’s going to need to take a late bus to head out to the all-night laundromat, despite the dangerous “Womb-Ripper” serial killer, stalking the streets.
With all that, it certainly does start off feeling weighed by the dull misogyny of the slasher genre. Although it does mostly escape it by the end, in ways that are giant spoilers to explain.
It’s absolutely gross in places, as aficionados of the format would hope, and does a very effective job of being disgusting within the confines of the PS1’s blocky graphics. That’s boosted by (toggleable) CRT and VHS effects on screen, which I’d recommend leaving on given how they’re exaggerated at certain points to boost atmosphere.
What it does best of all, though, and why I felt I wanted to write about it, is the jumpscares. Clearly many people can’t be doing with them, while others adore the terrifying feeling. I always find myself in an odd place, since I appear to be genetically programmed to rarely be affected by them. While all around me leap off the sofa, I just… don’t. And I take no pride in that – it reduces the fun for me for no gain. So I was delighted by how many times Bloodwash had me yelp.
I reached the point where I was trying to expect it, getting very suspicious every time I had to walk back out of a door into a location I’d recently left, but even so it kept finding new ways to surprise/terrify me. And there’s excellent use of audio to really hammer home those moments, plus how cleverly it sometimes just doesn’t do a jumpscare.
This is pretty crass stuff, but then it’s meant to be. I’m not sure when people will tire of the haunted PS1 vibe, but I’m pleased it’s lasting as long as it has. Plus, if you’re not into horror, you can still at least play it as a clothes washing sim.
- Black Eyed Priest / Henry Hoare / Torture Star Video
- Official Site