As we enter spooky season, The Upturned deserves another look.
(Image credit: Zeekerss)
Running for my life down a dim and cluttered hotel hallway, I’m laughing my head off. That’s the experience of The Upturned, a comedy horror game a lot of us missed when it came out on Steam (opens in new tab) back in March.
The Upturned did get some attention—it has over 300 Steam user reviews, most of which are positive, and a few YouTubers played it—but it might’ve received a bigger ovation back in the mid-2010s when offbeat games like Jazzpunk were more novel. (Releasing a month after Elden Ring might not have helped it, either.)
It’s not to late to correct this underappreciation, though, and we are entering ghoul season soon, so it’s not a bad time for a spooky game.
The Upturned starts with a disconcerting name inputting experience (I don’t want to spoil it), after which you find yourself in familiar horror game territory: alone in a spooky forest armed with only a flashlight. That won’t last. Your first sign that this isn’t going to be the tenor of your entire adventure comes when you find the unreasonably tall hotel where the rest of the game takes place. The hotel’s revolving door spins demonically fast, but your nondescript, shadowy little protagonist leaps in anyway and is flattened against the glass Bugs Bunny-style before being deposited in the lobby.
That mixture of creepiness and slapstick comedy—which is rendered in a limited color palette that makes it look a little like 3D Movie Maker—keeps the short adventure fun and funny. Your partner, narrator, and general pain in the ass companion for the game is a strange creature named Ik, the bellhop and manager of the hotel. With Cheshire Cat meets Igor from Persona vibes, he directs you to the elevator, where your goal is to reach your room on the 1434th floor. Each floor you stop on along the way is a puzzle where you have to find a fuse to get the elevator moving again.
Upturned chucks chaos at you from start to finish: Floors that feature power plants, cowboy saloons, and underwater megastructures are filled with things that want to eat you, and the only way to buy yourself the time you need to escape is by hucking clutter at them—but you might be interrupted in the middle of a battle by Ik calling you for permission to bump some phat tunes. The spooky parts are spooky in the way Dr Who is, with strange mannequins and disconcerting cracks in the wall building up the eeriness before all hell breaks loose.
You can find The Upturned on Steam (opens in new tab) or itch.io (opens in new tab) for $10. It’s been patched several times since its release, with bug fixes and a few additions, and its creator recently said they’ve started work on a new project. If you give The Upturned a shot, give Shrimp some pets for me. And watch out for Lawrence, he’s a little cranky.
With contributions from
Keyword: This weird comedy horror game from March went mostly unnoticed>