Wednesday, April 24, 2024
FeaturesGayme of the Week

Gayme of the Week: Scarlet Hollow

There’s nothing that quite brings people together than a funeral, which is exactly what brings you to the quiet, but foreboding town of Scarlet Hollow. Your aunt, Pearlanne, has recently died and leaves you little to no choice but to head back to your mother’s old estate in Scarlet Hollow – a place she left so very long ago.

The premise of Scarlet Hollow – spooky house, cryptids, broken families, and people – is interesting enough to make us want to play. But throw in queer love interests too, and well, now you’ve really got us salivating at the mouth. Because hey, we’re called Gayming Magazine for a reason, alright?

Jokes aside, queerness and horror have gone hand in hand for as long as we can remember. Queer people are drawn to horror, whether it be due to body image, queer sexuality and how it’s expressed in the genre, or something else entirely, you usually can’t have one without the other.

Scarlet Hollow understands that concept – you’re immediately thrust into a town as an outsider. Not many know you, but all of them know of you. The queer tension that brings is all too familiar, but it makes this already atmospheric visual novel stand out. Despite the warm reception you receive from characters – some who are your love interests – Scarlet Hollow always has you feeling as though something is off. Whether it be you, the environment around you, the people you meet… It feels like wearing shoes that fit perfectly on one foot but are a size too small on the other.

Meet Tabitha – she’s going through some stuff right now.

One of the things that renowned graphic novelist Abby Howard, the creator of Scarlet Hollow, does extremely well is look at typical ‘aesthetics’ of horror and flip it on its head. If you’re expecting to go into this game and see pale as ghosts folk, and heteronormative gender roles, then you’re going to be disappointed. It’s what drew us to the Scarlet Hollow in the first place. That, and the choice of choosing your pronouns. It doesn’t affect the game in any real significant way, but it’s nice to have included all the same.

Outside of your pronouns, you’re also able to choose two traits. These help you by giving you certain dialogue choices, as well as actions, that isn’t available if you picked another trait. You’ve got Powerful Build, which is exactly what it says on the tin, Mystical, Street Smart, Keen Eye, Book Smart and, my personal favourite, Hot. Combine the traits you think will be most fun to play first, as unlocking additional paths in the story is fun and all, but you shouldn’t worry about it on your first playthrough.

The two traits system is great for replay value, and it let us create our dream date: a dumb, but a hot individual who just wants to watch re-runs of Buffy the Vampire Slayer while chowing down on their cousin’s mac and cheese. Don’t they sound like a total dreamboat?

Pick Powerful Build and Hot for hot, but dumb, results.

Scarlet Hollow’s first chapter is a blast, and really made us want to play more to find out what other horrors lie beneath the surface. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait for a little while longer, as the game is currently on Kickstarter. Thankfully the 6-chapter game is already funded, but that means that new content for this queer, horror visual novel is going to be slow. But good things do come to those who wait, right?

For those of you out there who aren’t willing to wait for the whole game, however, you do have the option to play the first chapter over on Steam. And yes, it’s completely free.

To find out more about the project – including your love interests – head on over to Scarlet Hollow’s Kickstarter.


Gayme of the Week is a weekly column by Aimee Hart about indie LGBT+ games that she’s played and what she loves about them. If you’ve got any recommendations, be sure to contact her on Twitter (@AimemeRights) or email (aimee@gaymingmag.com).

About The Author