We may earn a commission when you buy through links in our articles. Learn more.

30 years later, the seriously dark, bizarre Drowned God resurfaces

From the same era as PC classics like Myst, Monkey Island, and Riven, a bizarre point-and-click with dark undertones is suddenly back.

Drowned God relaunch: An alien from '90s PC game Drowned God

What’s the scariest game you’ve ever played? Resident Evil, when the dogs first jump through the window. Silent Hill, and the opening section with the chain-link fence and the wheelchair. There’s Amnesia, Alien Isolation, the Ravenholm section from Half-Life 2. But there’s one forgotten PC game, from the same golden era as Myst, Riven, and Monkey Island, that is perhaps creepier – or at least stranger – than any other. Filled with esoteric and fastidiously detailed artwork, outlandish theories about the nature of reality, and one of the bleakest narratives in game history, after 30 years of silence, Drowned God has suddenly resurfaced.

I despise cliché, but in this case, it’s warranted – you could not make a game like this one today. A point-and-click story game, it bears mechanical similarities to the erstwhile works of LucasArts and Sierra. But there the comparisons to its mid-90s contemporaries end. Drowned God is devoutly, unwaveringly dark, a deeply idiosyncratic vision from one of gaming’s most infamous developers.

In 1983, British author and illustrator Richard Horne, better known by his pen name Harry Horse, approached a variety of newspapers claiming to have discovered a lost manuscript written by the 19th-century poet Richard Henry Horne (no relation). It was soon discovered that the manuscript was a forgery written by Horne himself – that is, Harry Horse. Despite a range of legal challenges following the discovery of the forgery, Horne kept the manuscript and would later use it as the basis for a videogame. That videogame is Drowned God.

YouTube Thumbnail

According to the game’s narrative, thousands of years ago, aliens from the Orion constellation accelerated human civilization by depositing on our planet a collection of powerful artifacts, which must now be excavated and unified to usher in the next era of our advancement. Without wanting to spoil anything, the aliens might not be what they seem, and other organizations, including the Illuminati, have a vested interest in the artifacts’ recovery. So begins a globetrotting adventure that incorporates the span of conspiratorial esoterica, from the Knights Templar, the lost city of Atlantis, and the Roswell incident.

The writing is deep, stylized, and deliberately – compellingly – obtuse. The artwork, also done by Horne, is nightmarish and distinctive. Nevertheless, the creative achievements of Drowned God are overshadowed by the eventual fate of its author.

In 2007, Horne and his wife Mandy were both found dead at their home in West Burra, an island off the coast of northeast Scotland. Mandy, who suffered from terminal multiple sclerosis, had reportedly been stabbed more than 30 times. In what is commonly believed to have been a murder-suicide, Horne then turned the knife on himself, mutilating his own body and stabbing himself 47 times before dying.

Thus, Drowned God has become part of videogame infamy. Originally released in 1996, the game is now re-released onto the Epic Store thanks to a collaborative effort from some of Horne’s former colleagues and his two sisters. Mike Gamble, co-founder of Next Path Media; Alastair Graham, art director on the original game; Algy Williams, its producer and co-creator; and Emma Blackler and Kay O’ Hanlon, Horne’s siblings, have created a remastered version of Drowned God that removes bugs and runs seamlessly on modern operating systems.

Drowned God relaunch Epic Games Store: An empty bar from PC game Drowned God

The relaunched version also includes artbooks, concept and pitch documents, and other materials related to the development of the original. Dark, extraordinary, and completely original, if you want to explore this extremely storied part of gaming history, you will be able to get Drowned God on the Epic Games Store from Monday June 17, head right here to check it out for yourself.

Alternatively, return to the ’90s with some of the best old games you can still run today, or maybe look ahead with the best upcoming PC games on their way to you.

You can also follow us on Google News for daily PC games news, reviews, and guides, or grab our PCGN deals tracker to net yourself some bargains.