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Life Eater is an unnerving horror game about ritualistic sacrifice

Key art for Life Eater.
Frosty Pop

In 2023, Strange Scaffold released El Paso, Elsewhere, a horror-tinged throwback to the likes of Max Payne that also told a deeply personal and unsettling story about a toxic relationship. Its next game, Life Eater, puts players in the shoes of a serial killer seeking out new targets to kill and sacrifice to a god he’s starting to question the existence of. This isn’t a Manhunt- or Hitman-style stalk-and-kill game; it offers a feeling of detachment by having players parse through timelines to learn everything they need to abduct and properly sacrifice a target.

Life Eater is a brisk, yet unnerving experience. Even if it doesn’t quite reach the heights of El Paso, Elsewhere, it affirms that Strange Scaffold is one of the best studios working in the horror gaming space right now.


Life Eater follows a man who emerges once a year to sacrifice innocent people to a god called Zimforth. He does this by scouring the weekly schedules of several people to uncover information that affirms that a potential target falls within the parameters Zimforth set forth. Each piece of information uncovered on a timeline comes at the cost of time and a bit of notoriety, so the challenge of Life Eater is ensuring that you gather all the correct information without getting caught and within a time limit.

It doesn’t stop there, though, as Life Eater checks if the player was paying attention during the actual sacrificial process. The sacrifice requires the removal of certain body parts depending on the person’s schedule. For example, you might have to remove someone’s pancreas if they have a commute or their large intestine if they don’t. Mess this up, and Zimforth won’t accept the sacrifice, so you’ll have to restart the search from square one.

The sacrifice menu in Life Eater.
Frosty Pop

The timeline=parsing gameplay and memorization that Life Eater demands aren’t nearly as entertaining as El Paso, Elsewhere‘s slick shooting, but this minimalist gameplay cleverly reinforces the narrative themes. To gain enough information to find a target to abduct and properly sacrifice them, the main character has to get intimately familiar with these people’s lives without actually forging a real connection with them.

He learns about family members caring for a dying parent, a drummer joining a band where the other two members are in a relationship, or a waste management worker who has to work two jobs to make ends meet. Yet the killer doesn’t form any actual relationships with these people; the minutiae of their lives are simply facts obtained to make an informed decision. This makes the brief conversations between kills with Johnny, a prisoner held for almost a decade by the killer, even more unnerving.

It’s clear that this killer is desperate for connection, yet his “work” is preventing him from doing so. The best horror stories are personal, and I’m sure most of the people who play Life Eater have felt desperate for connection or overwhelmed by their job responsibilities. By tapping into those feelings, Life Eater is a scary game despite most of its playtime being speny staring at woefully plain timelines. Strange Scaffold’s Xalavier Nelson Jr. is a master at crafting enthralling interpersonal dram,a and he once again flaunts that storytelling skill here. As such, fans of very personal-feeling horror need to check out Life Eater — and whatever Strange Scaffold does next.

Timeline gameplay from Life Eater.
Frosty Pop

While its next game is a revenge thriller called I Am Your Beast, Strange Scaffold isn’t done in the horror gaming space yet. When announcing Life Eater with publisher Frosty Pop, the studio confirmed it is also working on an “after-hours library horror game.” Hopefully, that game — as well as the other non-horror titles Strange Scaffold is working on — retains the same deeply personal narrative tinge that made El Paso, Elsewhere and Life Eater memorable.

Life Eater is available now on PC.

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Tomas Franzese
Tomas Franzese is a Staff Writer at Digital Trends, where he reports on and reviews the latest releases and exciting…
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