A downloadable game for Windows, macOS, and Linux

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This is the free demo to our episodic horror visual novel. There are 7 Episodes planned, of which the first three are currently released. This demo contains the entirety of Episode 1, which takes between an hour and an hour and a half for a single playthrough. Saves from this demo should automatically carry over to the full game.

If you'd like to check out or purchase the rest of the game, it's hosted on a separate itch page: https://abbyhoward.itch.io/scarlet-hollow

Trapped in the dying Appalachian mining town of Scarlet Hollow for the funeral of your estranged aunt, you quickly find yourself at the center of a dark mystery that threatens your life.

From award-winning graphic novelist Abby Howard, Scarlet Hollow is a horror visual novel and adventure game where your choices deeply matter. Hand-drawn backgrounds and sprites work together with a complex relationship system to bring to life an immersive world of charming (and terrifying) characters. Who lives, who dies, and the fate of an entire town rests on your shoulders.


  • A heavily branching narrative where your choices matter. The relationships you forge and the decisions you make will dramatically alter your journey.
  • A complex relationship system that changes how characters act around you. Characters don't just like or dislike you. Become friendly rivals, bitter adversaries, best friends, or mild acquaintances based on how you approach the story.

  • Trait-based dialogue and role-playing. Scarlet Hollow's dialogue system is driven by role-playing elements that let you choose who you want to be. Are you quiet and observant? Hot and clueless? Over a dozen different character builds change how you interact with the world and how your story unfolds.

  • Original monster designs. Every monster and supernatural being in the game is an original Abby Howard design-- you won't find any predictable vampires or zombies here.
  • Five romance options. Whether you're into goths, dads, plant-lovers, Youtubers, or skeletal boys, we've got all your bases covered.

  • Dozens of meticulously hand-drawn and traditionally inked backgrounds. Every background in the game is meticulously drawn by hand and inked on massive 19x24 inch paper.

  • Hundreds of hand-drawn, immersive sprites. Each major character has dozens of hand-drawn sprites that interact with backgrounds and capture a full range of lighting and emotion.


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Click download now to get access to the following files:

ScarletHollow-Episode1-market.zip 1 GB

Development log

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As soon as Gretchen's loose harness was mentioned I got anxious of when it was gonna come back into play. I immediately snatched her up when the option came up. I do not regret my choices. The potato must be protected at all costs. I would kill for the potato dog.

An incredible gem. Great story and fantastic artwork. What are you waiting for? Go play it now!

I really want to try out this first chapter but it won't launch on my Mac for some reason! I have enabled it from the privacy settings. Is there anything I could be doing wrong?

Have you tried right-click opening? This started to be an issue at some point and I'm not sure how or why! You could also try grabbing episode 1 on steam which shouldn't have issues with that.

I really appreciate the response! I never got it to work with the itch dl but I grabbed it from Steam and it's my new favorite game! Thank you so much!

Absolutely loved this first episode and the art in this game is stunning!


Android please


I just really want a zine or an artbook of this game or something like that. I want a printout of some of the stills to pin on my wall next to my other posters so I could look at it. I LOVE the art style so much!!!

this game deserves a special comicbook collectors edition! ♥️


I can't wait to buy full game O^O


I picked Hot and Talking to Animals, which are my irl superpowers. Made for a really fun interaction and I loved to see how those two traits changed the others' reactions to me

So wonderfully creepy and spooky, just so so so wonderful


We're so happy to hear you had a good time!

Absolutely! It's really lovely and unsettling, I've been trying to get my scaredy-cat friends to play and geek out with me!

Lots of great art and music. Interesting story!


It’s a nice enough game with beautiful background art and animated cutscenes, but it feels like a demo, not the first episode of a series, and it is ultimately a tad underwhelming. At first I was super hyped, but the more I played the more my enthusiasm went down. A shame, because I love horror games that acknowledge LGBT people exist.

Issue #1 I had with this game—and this isn’t a flaw of just this game, mind you—is that I wish the gender neutral/non-binary option had pronouns other than they/them. With all due respect to people who use these pronouns, I am non-binary and they/them are not my pronouns; I feel it can sometimes get unnecessarily confusing in certain contexts, too, if the narration uses they/them. Ze/hir would be a better option. Just something for developers in general to consider when they want to be inclusive to us. FYI, not every non-binary person uses neopronouns, those that use he/him and she/her are still non-binary.

Issue #2: A specific warning of animal abuse would’ve been nice, by the way. The game warns about “disturbing imagery” and “gore” but those are warnings so unspecific they could mean anything from a graphically mutilated arm to aesthetically pleasing bleeding eyes. It’s really unclear and I would’ve liked a warning before having to see the entire woods section.

Well, enough about that. The random nitpicks I have with the game are as follows: some of the dialogue choices are a bit juvenile and glib and sort of clash with the mood, to be honest.; the different traits and unlockable dialogue options don’t seem to do or add much to the game at all; most choices feel inconsequential, like padding.

All that said, I love Frou-Frou the cat and Dustin the Opossum, by the way. The Talks to Animals perk was the best, and the Gretchen dialogue options were surprisingly insightful; I was expecting just funny dialogue options. My favourite human characters were Kaneeka and her mum Sybil.


An interesting game. It looks beautiful and the story is good.



I hope you don't mind that I made a first impressions video. Beautiful Work!


thanks for resolving that crash, i finished the first chapter tonight! that was just the right amount of creepy and felt really tight all the way through.

one thing i noticed was i never really used any of my trait options, just because both of the traits i chose (spiritual and street smart) were more action-y traits- but all of the gameplay in this chapter was highly social. like whenever one of the choices was trait-specific it felt like very antisocial behavior so i never used it, but since this was kind of a passive episode i never got to do anything cool with the active side of my traits, if that makes sense. i'm sure once the plot gets more involved those traits will become more useful, but for now it always felt like i was waiting to use them.

all the art and music for this is excellent, obviously. and the writing and character design all felt really cohesive and on-theme. i'm curious to see how you do sequels for such a variable game, like do you plan on always resolving to similar plot states or are you gonna try to integrate systems that are able to see your old save files and maintain continuity between episodes? i'm excited to see where this series is going~


This is soooo good. I can't wait for the rest.


Honestly, amazing

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Awesome game. Looking forward to seeing more.  I love the story and music, and the character customization is a nice touch and gives you a reason to replay  it several times.


This is the both the most technically accomplished Ren'Py VN, and the best horror (both in the Lovecraftian and 'general' horror sense) OELVN I have ever read.

There are first episodes of multi-million-dollar TV-produced horror series (most I'd say). That don't get you as interested in a setting and story as this VN sample does.

The video at the end, besides its great 3D effects, made me feel like Scarlet Hollow is not just a setting, or one story, but is going to be either a succession of stories, or a several narratives told simultaneously.

I also appreciated the lack of political correctness in the dialogue. From the first conversation in the bus I knew this was an adult VN (not in the XXX sense), and a story that would be taking itself seriously..

The setting is very well accomplished, this makes a good addition to 'Lovecraftian Country' and feels like what he or one of his authors friends might have created had they been born and lived in a later time.

The sheer amount of graphical assets used is insane, and some are used only for scenes that last about one second. It's superior to many Japanese VN produced by professional studios that take up multiple gigabytes of space on your hard drive.

The only 'flaw' I have to point out, which really isn't because it's a matter of personal preference, is the dissolves between changing character sprites being automatic. Personally I like sprite changes to take about 0.5 seconds (unless the situation deems it otherwise) like I used in my amateur VN. I find instant changes in pose to be a bit 'weird'. But this seems to be the staple of VNs made using the Ren'Py engine so it can hardly be considered criticism.

As someone who is trying to be the amateur one-person-team creator of an episodic, modern, Lovecraftian-inspired, Ren'Py VN I found this work *very* inspiring, even if the setting and theme are completely different.

This really is a breath of fresh air from the overwhelming number of BxB,BxG,GxG, etc, Ren'Py VNs you get when you check the 'completed games' thread at the Lemma Forums.


This game is a Dimond in the dust! It's an absolute treasure!! I love how comedic, weird, and overall awesome vibe this game has. It's amazing the work that was put into this, and i can't wait to play more of it!

Thank you, for making this game, i love it : )

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Nice story

I have no idea how I'm going to make it through the wait between episodes, but Jesus please us, this game is  P E R F E C T.  The art!  The writing!  The music!  The animation!  The Gretchen!!  Thank you especially for including

  • foods both delicious and terrifying,
  • animals both adorable and terrifying,
  • hot flirt-able people,
  • & the ability to choose neat character traits that affect the story

Seriously, it's--


--like 2:50 in the morning, and I might be too excited to sleep.  Gonna back the Kickstarter in AM.  Thank you so much, Abby & team!


I just downloaded it and already played it today. The graphics are incredible, including the story and plot. I cannot wait to play episode two when it comes out/ I especially loved the animation at the end! Please keep up the hard work, and stay safe!

I cannot express how much I loved episode one. I cannot wait to explore more of the town including each interaction.


What an incredible start!

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I like it

It says error everytime I try to dowload it :d

I'm sorry to hear you're having some trouble. Is your error on itch's end? It might be worth reaching out to their support. If they're not able to help you, let me know and I can send you private download link, or you could also pick it up for free on Steam :) https://store.steampowered.com/app/1406040/Scarlet_Hollow/

Thank you. I ended up getting it on steam, I'm looking forward to playing it ^-^

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Hi, what a nice game! It is like playing a book, it took me 1.5 hours to finish episode 1. The story is super well written and reminds me of old school text adventures, very atmospheric. The music is amazing to listen too and the artwork is brillant. I want to see how this story will unfold, I'am not that much curious about the creatures but more about the people and secrets of the small town. I would love the background to be more "active" like with tiny animations, not just when you click on something. Else great work, no bugs, no issues !

One of the stretch goals for our Kickstarter will be animation related, both for more in-game cutscenes and more animated backgrounds :)

I'm glad you had a good time!


Okay, didn't expect it to be that good. I'm loving it, feel that cryptic vibe at the start of the game and it seems I was right. Some suggestions for improvement, I think the sounds effect can be improved to make the horror/creepy/nasty scene more horrifying. I suggest playing/watching/reading this other visual novel, The Lost Delinquent of Rolling High, because the dev played so well on the character expression and the sound to make horror scene really terrifying. But of course, it's just my suggestion, there's no need to impose.

Okay now I've explored the town. Pretty interesting.

Oh by the way, you two should probably tag your Twitter in the Itch Io account! At first I thought you two didn't have any, but a tweet that AlphaBetaGamer likes has you two accounts in it! Keep it up!

Okay I've reached the scary part and it is indeed creepy. Love the sounds of the Ditchling a lot.


Hello! I caught this crash and just wanted to report it:

While running game code:
  File "game/script.rpy", line 2988, in script
    if tabitha_relationship["open"] - tabitha_relationship["closed"] >=2 or (tabitha_relationship["agreeable"] - tabitha_relationship["adversarial"] >=1 and tabitha_relationship["agreeable"] - tabitha_relationship["adversarial"] <=2):
  File "game/script.rpy", line 3012, in <module>
    elif tabitha_relationship["adversarial"] - tabitha_relationsihp["agreeable"] >= 3:
NameError: name 'tabitha_relationsihp' is not defined

It happened while we were talking to Tabitha in the foyer at the beginning of the game.

Thank you! We just fixed this and will release a hotfix tomorrow. Until then, if you hit "ignore" you should be able to progress with this save without any issues :)


Glad to help, me and my girlfriend are playing this by candlelight and loving it!!

Hello AbbyHoward! 

Episode 1 was a great experience. The characters were enjoyable, music was great, and the art style was cool!  I think episode 1 did a great job giving you enough to want more, especially with the options to explore with the dialogue options! Great job! Hope to see more! 

well this is delightful so far, excited to have a seasonal game! it did just crash and apparently does not auto save so that's a bummer but i wasn't very far in

oh no! the exact same crash happened! it was a weird half-crash that didn't crash the app but just put me back on the main menu

i'm running on mac and it happens when you talk to stella in town  and say you're worried about your cousin. it goes through the whole dialogue but crashes before a new option prompt appears

Hey! Sorry you're running into some issues! Do you have a bug report or does it just crash to your desktop? What version of Mac OS are you running? The game does autosave, by the way! They're kept under the "A" tab in the saved games menu.

it actually just quits out to the main menu, no crash report. i'm running catalina 10.15.6

i have a save right before the crash happens, you just have to choose the 'worry' option. i can probably extract the save file if that's helpful but i'm not sure where to find it

Fixed it! We'll put out a patch soon.

cool thanks!