First, I’m pretty happy Retro Magazine made its Kickstarter goal today. But feel free to nudge it along toward its new stretch goal. I’m not an active part of the magazine — I’m contributing a monthly column and don’t get anything extra out of further funding — but I always like to see worthwhile ventures do well for themselves.
– TOPIC CHANGE –
Today, Pete Davison posted a review of a game called Eldritch, which I’d never heard of. Out of curiosity, I checked out the review and was really intrigued by what I saw:
Just a chunky first-person shooter in an ugly shade of green? Yeah, maybe. But Pete’s review talks about how the shifting graphics create an unsettling sensation. Take a closer look and you can see what he means — the textures appear to be all warped and misshapen, out of alignment with the actual shapes that contain them.
But of course, gamers of a certain age will recognize this effect immediately: Eldritch simulates the PlayStation’s most unique graphical quirk. For whatever reason, Sony didn’t bother to build perspective correction into the hardware, so graphical textures never lined up correctly. As you would move through a 3D space, the textures on floors and walls would warp around you, jumping around as the system struggled to figure out how to draw them convincingly.
The PlayStation is the only place I’ve ever seen that particular effect, because it was specific to the hardware. Later consoles all incorporated the ability to handle proper texture perspective, even the DS (which otherwise created graphics reminiscent of the PlayStation). It has since all but been forgotten; the closest I’ve ever seen to anything along those lines was in the DS Dragon Quest remakes, which presented their environments with warped, uneven geometry — not exactly the same thing, but a definite echo of the visuals in Dragon Quest VII and the PlayStation remake of Dragon Quest IV. I was never sure if that was a deliberate attempt to mimic the PS1’s graphics or just a stylistic quirk, but the echo was unmistakable.
But Eldritch definitely riffs on the PlayStation hardware’s flaws, consciously reproducing the effect to create an unsettling atmosphere. It’s a clever idea and a fascinating choice. Good horror often denies the viewer detail and information, but the idea of using regressive technology to create a sense of fear is one I’ve never seen expressed in precisely this manner. But it’s pretty rad. I’ll definitely be checking it out when it hits Mac (whenever that happens to be).