Building Retro style Horror game that stand out using GameBoy Effects in Unity 🎨

Thomas Simonini
5 min readMar 13, 2021
We transformed our simple horror game in a stylized retro game using GameBoy Effects

Horror Games is one of the most important genres in the video game industry. Each year, thousands of horror games are published but only a few succeed financially.

The problem is that most of them suffer from a lack of originality. Games to be successful must stand out from the competition. This can be only possible by working on two things:

  • Original gameplay.
  • Original aesthetic.

We’re going to work on the second today part today. If you look at a lot of Indie Game success, the majority took a very original aesthetic tone: for instance, the dithering effect of Return of the Obra Dinn. This is because players are attracted by originality and new experiences.

Return of the Obra Dinn

Therefore, in this article, we’re going to see how easy it to transform your classic horror game into a standout retro game using GameBoy Effects 🎨 for Unity.

Some experiments with the effect

Indeed, GameBoy Effects 🎨 allows you to add a GameBoy Filter Effect to your 3D game in a second. Just add our script to your camera, choose between 8 color palette or create your own and you’re done.

The effect is $2,99 and you can get here 👇

At the end of the article you’ll transform this zombie game, or your own game to this (color will depend on the palette you choose):

If you don’t have yet an horror game, don’t worry, we’re going to use this template from Penny de Byl’s amazing AI Course, which is a zombie in a warehouse that chases you. But feel free to use your own game instead.

We’re going to see how easy and fast it is to setup a GameBoy effect style for your horror game.

Step 1: Import the Project 📦

  • First, we create a Unity Project (3D Pipeline only)
  • Then, we import the Horror Chasing Package file to your Unity Project. To do that, we just need to drag and drop the package to Unity like this:
  • Then, we need to change the color space, in Edit>Project Settings>Player: Change Color Space to Gamma.
  • We now open the scene, as you can see it’s a simple warehouse, were you need to flee a chasing zombie.

The game is relatively simple, and the style does not stand out, we’re going to add the GameBoy Effect to add a gloomy/dark retro atmosphere.

Step 2: Add the GameBoy Effect 🎨

  • Now, that we have our game, we need to add the game boy effect, you need to import the GameBoy Effect Package to Unity.
  • When it’s done, in your Scene, select the Camera that is the child of FPSController: FirstPersonCharacter.
  • Add component “GameBoy Effect” script.
  • Now, we need to select the color palette we’re going to use: the original GameBoy used 4 different colors. We provide 8 different color palettes 🎨 but you can also create/modify your own.
  • Select the palette you want to use and drag and drop to Palette, I’m going to test with GameBoyShader_Lighter (the GameBoy green original).
  • Finally, you need to select the level of pixelization you want by tuning Downsample Size (2 by default). The higher Downsample Size → the more pixelated.

Step 3: Add the lights and your game is ready 🥳

  • GameBoy Effects games need more luminosity than a normal game since we use only 4 colors. What I’ve done for this scene is to add 2 directional lights that pointing towards the floor in the two extreme parts of the warehouse. But feel free to experiment to find what suits you best.
  • So now, we’re ready to see the results, you just need to click play:
  • I’ve also used the _ShadesOfRed palette and it’s very cool:

Bonus, another scene I’ve made 🎁

Since GameBoy Effect is really easy, I wanted to experiment with another scene. I created it using Flooded grounds assets, an amazing free asset pack that you can find on Unity Store.

So that’s all for today, with this effect, we’ve just transformed in a minute, a standard horror game into a standout one.

Remember that players have the choice between thousands of games, and the original aesthetics can really help to grasps attention towards your game.

So have fun, create and experiment!

I would love to see what type of games you’ve made using GameBoy Effects, feel free to reach me @ThomasSimonini with your screenshots 🖼️.

And if you liked this article, don’t forget to clap as much as you liked it 👏 and follow me.

Keep making games, stay awesome!



Thomas Simonini

Developer Advocate 🥑 at Hugging Face 🤗| Founder Deep Reinforcement Learning class 📚 |