Chilla’s Art: A rising duo of indie horror games


With ‘Very Positive’ reviews on Steam, Chilla’s Art displays promising indie-horror content.

Paula Gonzalez, Writer

There’s been a growing trend of online streamers looking for low-resolution style horror games that tend to use sensory overload, or creepy framing, as a fear tactic. Several variations of this style have been done, some more chaotic or suspenseful than others. Since 2018, a newer independent company known as Chilla’s Art has created many short-horror games of this subgenre, based around Japanese culture. Soon after their cumulative release, the games became a cult classic, with their supernatural legends and disturbing frames gaining the attention of many influencers and indie horror gamers alike. In just a short period of time, this small sibling duo of Japanese developers has been able to consistently release memorable games, while still keeping in touch with their overarching themes. 

Chilla’s Art games predominantly mix urban legends and folklore with unsettling incidents. They make use for discretion, simply laying a general foundation of plot, before leaving the rest of the game open to the player’s interpretation. Planted clues, consisting of newspaper clippings, symbolic trinkets, diary entries, peculiar character dialogue and a shifting atmosphere, each showcase possible lore theories for a player to best tie together. Evidently, the developers encourage freedom for exploration, while confining their audience to paranoia of lurking scares. 

Their most highly rated games include newer releases such as “The Convenience Store” and “The Closing Shift,” as well as a long-time favorite called “Stigmatized Property.” The first two games are the most interactive and immersive, featuring cleaner visuals with busy backgrounds. They both run along work-oriented structures but with very separate plot lines. In “The Convenience Store,” the player is a college girl who runs the night shift, but every night she is sent an inexplicable VHS tape. Continuing to manage the store and investigate the locations on the tapes, disturbing truths are subtly unveiled, but will the player be able to stay alive long enough to uncover the cursed crime? Fans of movies The Ring” and “The Grudge” may be pleased to experience such elements influenced by Chilla’s Art in this anxiety-inducing short horror. 

“Stigmatized Property” is one of the developer’s earlier games. It seems shorter in comparison to their other installments, but perfectly delivers an eeriness an indie horror should offer with the time it has. A schoolgirl (later speculated to be known as Mira) appears at the apartment of her close friend after receiving a message from him urgently inviting her to his home. However, when she arrives, her friend is nowhere to be found. Mysteriously being drawn to the cold presence of the home, Mira searches for the whereabouts of her friend while being at risk of the evil hunger amongst the abandoned property.

Leading away from the supernatural and focusing on the brutalities of mankind, “The Closing Shift” has a charming effect with another young girl working in a coffee shop. The player is mindfully distracted attending to incoming customers and creating beverages, while behind the scenes, word of stalkers creeping around the town are spread about. With meticulous details, this slow burn game really picks up the pace when the character faces a predator of her own. 

Noted from the mentioned favorites, Chilla’s Art only sets their games during the dead of night, with each game containing at least two different endings. They’re categorized as a “bad” or “bittersweet” ending to follow the thematics of each story. As most games of this subgenre would alternate with either chaotic sensory overload or strictly ominous feels to build suspense, Chilla’s Art does a great job of keeping in the middle. 

Their games are purposefully developed in low-resolution style, which bodes well with their unique night time feature to immediately add a fearful, almost grainy effect. Selective sounds are much louder than others which might perk up the player, but the greatest suspense the developers build occurs when they erase all background noise completely. Only the sound of the character’s footsteps and the daunting darkness of the screen follow the player with every next turn. Jumpscares alternate between predictability and spontaneity, which are terrifying as it is, moreover, when the kind of incorporation Chilla’s Art will deliver is always unbeknownst to the player. 

The game’s mechanics and pace are a bit clunky, which may be another subtle effect, but otherwise there does seem to be need for improvement. Selectable items will glow in yellow but inventory space can be limited to one item for a certain game. Having a premature “bad” ending causes the player to restart the entire play through, however, this was changed for “The Closing Shift,” which was a good call for that extensive game. Sometimes there’s glitches of irregular movement, especially in the newer releases that touch base with more characters and moving vehicles, but it’s not enough to take away from the creativity of the game. 

The final thing to note is that while the entirety of the games themselves deliver fantastic engagement, there is some disagreement with the structure of certain endings. The developer’s sometimes style their games with “text to screen” pop-ups or feature abrupt closures, which may feel lazy or off compared to the active engagement. Nevertheless, it’s noticeable that the developers are working on a balance as they feature short animations and text to screen endings for newer releases. 

Chilla’s Art has had a steady production of various creative and diverse storylines amongst their 22 released games. There’s a type available for anyone interested in experiencing this newfound company, or those interested in immersive indie horror. As Chilla’s Art rises in trends and continuously improves their game mechanics, there’s enormous amounts of engaging content to be excited about in the future of this inspired independent company. 

What do you think?