About THREE-HEADED SANTA: The Awakening
THREE-HEADED SANTA: The Awakening - A Tribute To Bad Indie Horror Games
A Self-Aware Christmas Horror Mess
THREE-HEADED SANTA: The Awakening is a first-person indie horror game. Developed by user germfood in two days as “a tribute to bad indie horror games”, the Christmas-themed game launched on itch.io in December 2021 as a free-to-play game on Windows PC.
Evil Santa x THREE
It’s Christmas time, Gregory!!! Time to decorate the tree while fully naked, as per tradition. Wait, why is your gift in the toilet? And how did you manage to summon an evil, three-headed Santa? Oh boy. Time to run.
THREE-HEADED SANTA: The Awakening knows it's bad, but the key is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. As long as you don’t either, you’re in for some fun.
Concept Rating: 3/5
THREE-HEADED SANTA is quite low-poly, exemplified by Gregory’s swollen face and bulbous calves. Moving around the world in first person, you’ll see Gregory’s doll-like arms on the screen at all times, and many objects in the house straight up don’t have shadows. Still, the amount of detail that is present for two days’ work is pretty dang impressive.
This game uses text-to-speech for Gregory’s dialogue, and a few deliberate typos and well-placed swears make for some great moments. The developer also uses plenty of presumably free-to-use, generic sounds. Gregory will whoop in delight when you find each bauble for the Christmas tree in a way that’s endearing rather than annoying, and the chaotic, demonic screeching sound Santa makes when he arrives should be very familiar to players of bad indie horror games.
Graphics and Audio rating: 2/5
Surprisingly Solid Scares
As an indie horror game, THREE-HEADED SANTA will surprise players with some solid scares during its short play time. The final act is tense, with evil snowmen and elves with chainsaws chasing you through the environment. Throughout, there are even cutscenes, with humour aplenty.
There are a few pitfalls to the game, however. One major one is that it doesn’t window lock your mouse, which can bring gamers out of the experience in the middle of a tense chase. There are also some bugs hanging around - the most notable leaving players stuck on the second floor of Gregory’s house in the opening act. If you’re lucky, you can get around this by jumping over the handrail, which honestly isn’t entirely out of character for what the game asks of you.
Two of the most confusing moments occur in the last act. The first comes in a tense chase scene that places players in a confusing set of corridors, with no clear indicator as to where they should go. The other questionable moment is when a white health bar appears across the bottom of the screen. Is it your health? Your opponent’s? It doesn’t seem to change either way, so what are we supposed to do with it?
It’s hard to say whether the game’s shortfalls are on purpose. It is, after all, a tribute to bad indie horror games, and was made in only two days. Three Headed Santa knows it’s bad. It’s bad on purpose. It’s bad blatantly, and without apology.
Gameplay rating: 3/5
So Bad It’s Good
For plenty of folks, THREE-HEADED SANTA: The Awakening will be so bad it’s good. For a one-person project completed in such a short timeframe, it’s a testament to what a game can be, and achieves its goal as a tribute to bad indie horror games. You’d be hard-pressed to squeeze any more than half an hour out of it, but it has the potential to be a cult classic for some, replayed every year when it’s time to decorate that Christmas tree.
Replayability rating: 1/5
- Doesn’t take itself too seriously
- Pretty dang good for only two days of work
- Doesn’t window lock your mouse
THREE-HEADED SANTA: The Awakening is a great way to spend 20 minutes of your time, as long as you don’t take it too seriously.