His Madness Works: An Interview With Ivan Zanotti

Ivan Zanotti

If you’ve played any freeware horror games released over the last year or so, there’s a good chance they bore the influence of at least one of two titles: the original Slender or Ivan Zanotti’s Imscared – A Pixelated Nightmare.

I was fortunate enough to be able to interview developer Ivan Zanotti for his Developer Spotlight on Game Jolt, and he shed light on a variety of topics, such as his love of Megaman and Terry Cavanagh games, his own released and unfinished games, the new version of Imscared and his upcoming game, Peculiar Life Experience.

If you’re not familiar with Ivan and his work, let me fill you in. Imscared, which was featured as part of Spooky Statik October, can easily be considered an indie horror classic. It broke new ground with the way it embraced lo-res graphics to increase player dread, and with its use of mind games that smashed through the fourth wall. Since its release, it has spawned many descendants, some of them excellent games in their own right (such as I See You).


Since the release of Imscared, Zanotti has steadily crafted a ludography of wonderful, eerie, emotional and utterly playable games. Every one is notable for trying something new and working on multiple levels. Perhaps he’s best known for his horror games, but his range encompasses many other emotions besides fear. Collapse, Collide is a metaphorical and inspirational platformer with secrets. NothingElse is a mix of side-scrolling exploration and first-person puzzle solving wrapped in a tale of family dysfunction.

1ime L0ver is a genuinely cute, but tough-as-nails timed platform-puzzler. His latest release, the collaboration Calm Time, takes horror to new heights by putting you in a killer’s shoes and making the murders you commit genuinely horrible. All of Zanotti’s works combine compelling gameplay with an emotional core.

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