Puppet Combo, a one-man studio, loves slasher horror. The much-misunderstood genre has never really translated well to games, with perhaps Clock Tower being the finest example of ‘slasher’ incorporation. All horror games, from Resident Evil to Siren, borrow a little from the genre’s aesthetics, but none really run with it.
Puppet Combo, however, is changing that. The studio’s games—obliquely titled with such names like Babysitter Bloodbath, The Night Ripper, and The Power Drill Massacre—focuses around this singular idea of horror, propped up by a dirty VHS aesthetic and gritty design choices. Puppet Combo’s games give off a found footage vibe, with its PlayStation-era graphics serving to push its referential style further.
OnlySP sat down with the developer to discuss its attitude towards making games and horror in general.
OnlySP: What makes VHS so creepy, do you think? Personally, I feel as though older horror films, literature, artwork, etc. Seem to tap into the uncanny a little more, which just comes across better on older technology.
Puppet Combo: I’m not sure. I don’t put much thought into it. I guess I just associate the video store era and horror since I rented most of my favorites as a kid (or saw them on tv)
OnlySP: Puppet Combo is a one-man company, correct? Do you enjoy working alone? Do you think this impacts your work to a significant degree?
Puppet Combo: Basically yes. I get help with the music. Some of the document writing and contract out a little bit of the art. It doesn’t impact the final result, it just takes longer and makes it more stressful for me.
OnlySP: Do you head into new projects with a specific gameplay or artistic goal in mind or just a loose story idea? What gameplay goals did you have for Stay Out of the House?
Puppet Combo: It’s usually a story idea like ‘Make a game where you’re a serial killer’ or ‘make a game with a killer nun’. Stay out of the House was inspired by Granny, which I love but I felt I could make some improvements on.
OnlySP: While a lot of comparisons have been made between your games and 80’s horror/true crime movies, are there any other inspirations that lay outside of film?
Puppet Combo: Retro horror games like Friday the 13th and Resident Evil.
OnlySP: How did you get involved in games, to begin with? Did a specific piece inspire you or did you jump from another medium? I see that you’re self-taught, which must mean you have a lot of fun with game design—it’s tough to learn.
Puppet Combo: I started doing it in middle school because I wanted to play a Halloween game and modern (PS1 at the time) slasher games didn’t really exist. Clock Tower was around but I wasn’t able to get ahold of it. I wish making games was fun, but it’s mostly hard, grueling work. I do it for the end result.
OnlySP: Speaking in the long-term, what’s your end goal as Puppet Combo? In different terms, what’s your mission statement? I know you want to be the “Troma” of video games, but what does this mean? Not many people are exploring the meaning and philosophy behind visceral horror right now, which leaves video games lagging behind in the genre.
Puppet Combo: The end goal is an actual studio with a crew to work on more games. I guess the Troma of video games means expanding and possibly reaching some mainstream success without cleaning anything up or taming it. I think exploring the meaning and philosophy behind things (especially exploitation genres) can take the fun out of it.
Puppet Combo’s games are all available to purchase on its website. Its newest title, Stay Out of the House, is coming out on Steam tomorrow. Check out the trailer, embedded below, and be sure to follow OnlySP on Facebook and Twitter for the best in single-player gaming.