You might have heard of the “horseshoe theory” in political science, which holds that far-left and far-right groups are actually closer to one another in terms of values and objectives than the political centre, coming together like the prongs of a horseshoe. I would like to propose an analogous theory for horror games and cute games whereby past a certain point of cuteness, the videogame in question teeters over dramatically into dread and nausea. We could call it the “horseshuwu effect”.
As evidence of this, please witness the unholy magnificence of Saccharinity of Starfield, a Starfield mod from lucyprrrr and the Sakura Candy Society, which treats Starfield‘s items, spaceships, buildings, vegetation, planet models and, worst of all, people to a barbie-doll makeover reminiscent of a seriously overclocked shoujo anime. Do you like pink? No you don’t. Not this much.
I can just about tolerate the spectacle of the mod’s pastel-coloured, lower-resolution interior props. I actually think the toy figurine sheen of the redesigned outfits is fitting, given that all Bethesda Softworks games can be summarised as vast jumbles of memorabilia – merchandiseable object worlds with an RPG trapped somewhere inside, screaming for an inventory upgrade.
But then you get to the planets, which just look… wrong, like colossal bath bombs poised to disintegrate and flood whole star systems with violently-scented foam.
And then there are the game’s poor, innocent character models. Lucyprrrr has written “uwu” on their eyeballs. I do not much rate Starfield’s companions, but what have they done to deserve this?
I posted the mod on the RPS Slack. Katharine immediately sent me a screen of her Starfield Dad with uwu eyes, which I have dutifully used for this article’s header image. Away, fiend, away!
It’s an excuse, at least, to recommend some deliberate “cute horror” games, like Amanita Design’s so-called Happy Game, or Tattletail. They don’t appear on our best horror games list, but Little Nightmares 2 does, which I guess you could class as “cute” in places.