Screenshot of Umi and her family in Rental.
Screenshot by Prima Games

Rental is a Free Playable Animal Crossing Creepypasta

Short and sweet (and scary).

When I was a teenager, I was completely obsessed with Animal Crossing creepypasta, and spent hours diving deep into scary fan theories about Tom Nook. Obviously, Nintendo would never create a dark version of their whimsical, relaxing life simulator, but we may now have the closest thing to it with Rental, a free horror indie game by Lonely House.

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Be Careful When You Move Into a Rental…

As stated in a dev Q&A on Tumblr, Rental’s art style is inspired by Animal Crossing. “I was very influenced by one time I was playing Animal Crossing and found this human model on my friend’s island,” a Lonely House artist wrote. But don’t get confused – its gameplay is vastly different. Rental isn’t a life-sim; it’s a point-and-click horror game. Still, it is hard not to imagine myself in an Animal Crossing creepypasta similar to Welcome To Camp, a well-known and loved 13-part fan story, when playing it.

You play as Umi, a cute female bunny who has just moved to a new rental house with her mother, father, and younger brother. After speaking to your family outside, you enter the house in search of the Rental Man, who was supposed to meet everyone to welcome them to their new home but is nowhere to be found. Upon going inside, the door locks behind you…

Screenshot of the Rental Man in Rental.
Screenshot by Prima Games

As you explore the house, you find the Rental Man, who tells you the house is haunted and the only way to leave is to collect certain items and perform an exorcism. Spooky. He then mysteriously fades away, leaving Umi to find what she needs for the ritual.

Like Playing On an Old TV

Graphically, Rental reminds me of Animal Crossing: Wild World on the Nintendo DS, only if you were to play it on an old CRT television. It fits the horror vibe really well, only adding to the suspense as you go from room to room collecting items to aid you in the exorcism you need to carry out.

According to the Rental Supporter Fanzine, which is offered as paid DLC on Steam, Lonely House (then known as Smarto Club) created Rental during the 32bit Jam in 2022, which ran from October 16 to October 31. They were “guided by the past” and took inspiration from 1999’s Silent Hill, particularly the part where the door appears, letting the player access the television room. This influence comes across heavily when playing Rental, even down to the sound effects, and it’s eerily fantastic.

Screenshot of the exorcism in Rental.
Screenshot by Prima Games

Rental is short and sweet, taking me under 20 minutes to complete and just under 40 minutes to get every Steam achievement by playing it again to clean up what I’d missed. But don’t let the playtime fool you; there’s a lot of lore to unpack here. It’s my favorite indie game since 2023’s Sticky Business and may well end up becoming my indie game of the year for 2024.

While Lonely House has no plans to add more content to Rental, the game has put the developer on my radar, and I can’t wait to see what they conjure up next. You can download Rental for free on Steam right now.

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Meg Bethany Koepp
Meg was Managing Editor at Prima Games until April 2024. She began as a video games journalist in the UK in 2014, and went on to study Games Journalism & PR. In 2018, she moved to the USA, where she eventually joined Prima Games in May 2022. You'll now find her over at our sister site, The Escapist.