Twilight Syndrome lives on!

It appears that mangaka Inio Asano is referencing 1996 PS1 horror game Twilight Syndrome in his new series, Mujina into the Deep.

Twilight Syndrome is a side-scrolling horror title that mixes 2D, animated sprites with 3D environments to tell fairly linear, spooky tales. In it, three classmates sneak into their high school to investigate various urban legends and ghost stories.

I played this game back in college as far as I could in Japanese (I didn’t know any then) with my wife (then girlfriend), who could read the game’s kanji. Its earliest chapter features a scary ghost girl and a bathroom, which is a standard Japanese horror trope.

It scared the absolute shit out of me.

That game was stuck in my mind for years and would form the base inspiration for our first (and still most popular!) commercial game, Home. After playing that PS1 disc, I couldn’t get the idea of 2D, side-scrolling horror games out of my mind!

I love stories about scary things hiding amongst everyday places like schools and offices; about urban legends, local tales, and things just lurking around the corner that are better left forgotten.

In high school, I wrote a very cheesy novella that was, essentially, Twilight Syndrome — except in my overwrought story, it was also a clumsy teenage romance. (The loss of any backup or copy of this early foray into writing is a deep wound, let me tell you.) So when I discovered this game, it was like fate.

Twilight Syndrome’s developer, Human Entertainment, also holds a special place in my heart. They were a constantly-evolving Japanese studio that produced many hidden gems and concepts that have often gone overlooked. Sadly, they are no longer around as a studio, but their DNA can be felt throughout the industry if you’re paying attention.

And, clearly, Inio Asano is a fan as well, because who would reference such an obscure PS1 horror game in 2024?