‘Cannibal Abduction’ Console Review: PSX Lo-fi Horror Done Right

Cannibal Abduction_20240203165244

Suppose the spike in the popularity of analog horror has taught us anything. In that case, it’s that AAA polish and achingly realistic gore are far from the only ways to achieve video game greatness. While I and many others could wax lyrical about the chilling, cinematic beauty of fresh releases like Alan Wake 2. That doesn’t discount the appeal of the classics. In fact, many horror lovers like me also actively seek out titles that can emulate the gritty, lo-fi feel of 1990s survival horror. 

Puppet Combo Sets Themselves Apart

Thankfully, Puppet Combo and its publishing subsidiary Torture Star Video have shown themselves capable of curating a catalog that fits this iconic vibe to a tee. The latest addition to this is the console port of Cannibal Abduction. a 2023 survival horror indie developed by one-person developer, Selewi. 

Given the game draws so heavily on the PSX legacy, I decided to keep it in the console family and check out Cannibal Abduction on PlayStation 5. Let’s get to dissecting it! 

A Rough Start To The Weekend

Cannibal Abduction is a multilayered homage. As mentioned, it massively pays tribute to PSX horror. But it also honors 1980s slasher flicks through its VHS-style presentation and its classic, trope-ladden story. 

The story follows Henry, a rebellious young man whose plan for a big weekend getaway comes to a grinding halt once his engine goes kaput in the middle of nowhere. Fortunately enough, a passing farmer named Bob Tucker is keen to provide a helping hand. ‘Uncle Bob’ tows the busted car to his farm and offers to repair it. Although, as you can probably predict, this good old-fashioned Southern hospitality comes with a deadly twist. 

From the outset, Henry is presented as a likable – albeit slightly arrogant – doofus. As he explores around the Tucker’s home, he shoots plenty of cheesy one-liners. But he doesn’t quite capture the himbo charm of the likes of Leon S. Kennedy. Overall though, he’s a well-balanced horror protagonist. Due to him being just incompetent enough to get himself in trouble but capable enough to get himself out. 

Only One Way Out

Faced with armored windows and locked doors. Henry has to think outside of the box to find an alternative means of escaping the Tucker house. Cannibal Abduction’s puzzles aren’t too much of a headscratcher but offer a decent bit of variety. Especially given the game’s mere 2-hour TTB. Parts of the puzzles are even oddly charming. Seeing you fiddle around with the radio and spend quality time with the family’s crusty white dog, Daisy. 

The only real barrier to you solving these puzzles is that you’re simultaneously stuck in a cat-and-mouse game with a masked, cleaver-wielding cannibal. However, your pursuer, Phillip Tucker, doesn’t have exceptionally complex enemy AI. Akin to a scare actor at a haunted house, he’ll appear at unexpected intervals throughout your playtime and jumpscare you into almost dropping your controller. Yet, he also shares a scare actor’s limited range of movement. While he’ll chase you through numerous rooms in the house, he’s quick to give up. And if you take advantage of the numerous hiding spaces around the home? He has no chance of cottoning on. Still, the moments where you see him leering menacingly just outside the wardrobe door are enough to leave you with a hitched breath. 

While I wasn’t quite masochistic enough to enable Hard Mode on my initial playthrough, I made sure to experiment with it thereafter. In this mode, Phillip leaves you bear traps to get caught in, and you have reduced inventory space and stamina. Sure enough, the added difficulty lends a worthwhile twist to the gameplay loop, which helps justify a second or third run. 

Camera Angles Play Into The Retro Influences

True to its retro influences, Cannibal Abduction employs fixed camera angles and tank controls. Depending on your preferences, you might praise this as a faithful reflection of the limitations of 90s hardware or just see it as an awkward hurdle to overcome during your playtime. Personally, my take lies somewhere between the two. While I’m certainly used to the privilege of being able to turn and move simultaneously, having such clunky movement only intensified my panicked state while being chased. It suits the game, really. After all, Henry isn’t a battle-hardened survivor; he’s just some dude. Under my control, he’s just some dude who once accidentally moonwalked toward his killer … oops.

If you, like me, are inept enough to run right into Phillip, the glitch effects on the screen will reach a fever pitch and distort if you sustain a blow from his cleaver. You can use bandages found around the house to restore your vitals, but you may not have them to hand, as the whole time, you’ll be grappling with limited inventory space. In lieu of healing, you’d better hope you used one of the few tapes lying around to save your game because a fourth hit will send you to a glaring blue restart screen. 

Art Style Of Two Minds

To put it bluntly, Cannibal Abduction is an ugly game. Oftentimes, the events on screen are an outright eyesore. Yet, perhaps paradoxically, its art direction is undeniably praiseworthy. Selewi has a crystal clear visual identity for their games, and Cannibal Abduction is their most effective implementation of this to date. The Tucker house looks like something out of a Resident Evil 7 demake: think sharp edges, dreary coloring, and that oh-so-distinct gore-soaked Southern Gothic aesthetic. 

Meanwhile. the low-poly character models have an uncanny, empty feeling to them. Out of context, this sounds like a bad thing. However, it only serves to add to the game’s horror. Each character’s limited expression leaves them stilted in a way that is not only 5th-gen-console-appropriate but also incredibly unnerving. That’s the thing with retro horror games, I think. It’s as much about what isn’t there as what is. From the vacant faces to the pixelated gore, your mind is left to fill in the blanks in a way that’s its own very special kind of terrifying.

Cannibal Abduction’s sound design is similarly terse and reserved. In the absence of any background music, I found myself laser-focused on each creak and groan of the house. There’s a relative peace you experience while wandering around that is intermittently cut by a striking ‘bong’ sound when you find a new item or a startling wall of noise during a chase. The whole game is an exercise in restraint, in building tension that is broken with a bang. That is to say, it’s a well-executed little chunk of horror gaming.

Bundled Together

Alongside the main event, the console release of Cannibal Abduction comes bundled with Selewi’s previous game, Night of the Scissors. This is a thrilling little ~40-minute survival horror following a looter in an abandoned post office. Like Cannibal Abduction, it adheres to a familiar gameplay loop of ‘explore the area, solve the puzzles, escape the killer.’ Returning to Scissors makes it clear just how far Selewi has come in terms of the aesthetics and technical execution of their games. Still, it’s a certainly worthwhile play in its own right and only adds to the value of this port. 

So, if you’re a retro horror fan who hasn’t had the chance to play Cannibal Abduction and Night of the Scissors yet or just fancy owning them both on console, this is a superb little double feature that’s definitely worth adding to your library. To find more gruesome gems, check out our other reviews on Dread Central!



If you’re a retro horror fan who hasn’t had the chance to play Cannibal Abduction yet or just fancy owning them both on console, this is a superb little double feature that’s definitely worth adding to your library.



Sign up for The Harbinger a Dread Central Newsletter