The Smiling Man is a free-to-download indie horror game for Windows that lets you explore a dark, desolate town, encountering a strange character. Walk or run through the bleak landscape on high alert for any sighting of the figure they call the Smiling Man.
The Smiling Man occupies a highly-niche category of indie games created to resemble the visual environment of the original PlayStation console. Other games in this category include Slide in the Woods and Siren Head.
An unsettling adventure
The Smiling Man was designed to be as unsettling as possible without being too horrific. This means the game doesn’t rely on gore or gruesome imagery to get its message across.
Instead, it uses the kind of unnerving circumstances that are likely to keep you transfixed to the screen. It will terrify you to peek around the next corner. The game makes you feel as if you’re being observed from some distance by the titular Smiling Man.
Not much to do
The Smiling Man is simple in its approach to the horror genre. The game requires you to explore and observe your surroundings. You can interact with objects and influence the world around you. There are even multiple endings.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much to do apart from walking around. In The Smiling Man, you aren’t a god as in Sims or capable of transforming the very nature of the world around you as in Minecraft. You’re something more akin to a prisoner. Your role is to walk around, trying to uncover the town’s secrets, knowing fully well that the Smiling Man is out there.
This game has a similar visual feel to the games of the original PS1 console. To that end, the graphics don’t look terribly detailed and are more pixelated than games from 10 years prior to its release.
Redefining the modern gaming norms
The Smiling Man exists as a creepy type of entertainment where fear is exhilarating. Although thriller and horror gaming genres are ever-so-popular, The Smiling Man is more pleasing than most other games in this genre.
The pixelation of the graphics suits the game and plays its part in carrying over the unsettling message. Additionally, lower graphic resolutions also mean the game typically runs better than most other games.