Opossum Country is a short story-driven horror game made with GB Studio by Ben Jelter (who also contributes to our site). The game was made as part of the Scream FM Game Jam, the theme being to create a horror game within the 10 day time restriction. Participants were able to use any game engine they wanted, and Ben teamed up with his wife Dana Jelter for the story as well as Lunchz game’s music.
Set in the rural backwaters of a town, Opossum Country’s setup is reminiscent of horror pieces like Deliverance and The Hills Have Eyes, although the game slowly turns into more body-horror/occult. The game’s story has enough depth to keep you guessing about what is going to happen next, but I won’t spoil anything here so we’ll leave it at that.
Right from the title screen, Opossum Country visually jumps out at you. The simple animation of a car driving along a dark road perfectly demonstrates the masterful skill Ben has applied to every scene and is an example of how even within GB Studio’s limited tool set some eye catching work can be created. The rest of the game follows this style, using dark backgrounds and muted colours that very much fit the vibe of a horror piece. The main character’s player sprite is a departure from the typically cute “Pokémon” character style often found in Game Boy games, opting instead for a more anatomically correct representation. The amount of information conveyed in this low-res sprite (along with others) is impressive, and it works really well to set the scale of the world.
Interacting with characters within the game brings gorgeously rendered pixel art portraits that follow the same graphic style. Some of the images are disturbing, but that’s the point. The use of visual cues for guidance is also excellent, with interactable items having a slightly brighter palette on screen to catch your eye. Colour also become important feedback later into the game as part of a shooting mechanic, as hitting or missing your target can be determined by flashes that appear.
Which brings me to one of my favourite parts of the game, the shooting gallery portions. Now let me be clear, I don’t think this is the best implementation of a shooting mechanic within a game, but prior to playing this I couldn’t even imagine how this style of play could be made within GB Studio. The shortcomings are possibly a result of GB Studio’s limitations, but more likely due to the Game Jam’s limited time frame. But if Jams are an opportunity to explore ideas and mechanics, this is certainly something that should be expanded upon and hopefully refined by devs in the future.
Opossum Country can be played in a single 20 minute setting depending on how much you explore within the game. It’s story and presentation can be a bit gruesome, but there is a lot that can be learned from it, both in terms of the variety of art styles a game can use and the potential mechanics one can implement. We’re excited to have Ben contribute to our site so we can learn about the techniques that were used within the game and more. You can play it for free on Ben’s itch page: https://benjelter.itch.io/opossum-country
Audio Engineer, Mac Technologist and Video Game Developer. Managing Editor of GBStudio Central. (he/him)