Who is Pazuzu: The Evil Demon that Haunts Players in 'House of Ashes'

House of Ashes debuted a new cinematic trailer at this year's Summer Game Fest, which culminated in a promotion for a special "Pazuzu" edition of the game.

The horror title is part of Supermassive Games' ongoing Dark Pictures Anthology, alongside 2020's Little Hope and 2019's Man of Medan. Similar to the classic Choose Your Own Adventure books or Netflix's interactive Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, these games are all about putting you in control of a character's decision-making, so that you can influence the narrative.

Given that the anthology is a horror series, these branching paths usually lead to different people surviving or being killed, depending on the choices you have made for them. This means that they have a lot of replayability, as you can try them over and over again to see the various possible outcomes.

After Man of Medan took us aboard a fabled ghost ship, and Little Hope sent us back to the New England witch trials, House of Ashes will be thrusting us into yet another intriguing location. This time players will be guiding the actions of an elite military unit in 2003-era Iraq, who fall into a subterranean world of monsters after a botched raid for chemical weapons.

Entries in The Dark Pictures Anthology games have always featured the likeness of at least one recognizable celebrity and, in this case, House of Ashes is headlined by Ashley Tisdale of High School Musical fame.

Alongside Elden Ring and Back 4 Blood, a new trailer for the game was spotlighted at yesterday's "Summer Game Fest" and it included a reference to a special "Pazuzu" edition. This version of the game ships with a collector's box, an exclusive creature figurine, a themed pin, an exclusive art print and stickers, as well as access to the "Curator's Cut DLC."

When all hell breaks loose, embrace it 💀
Pre-order the Pazuzu Edition of #HouseOfAshes:https://t.co/B4nxPlnmwx pic.twitter.com/KhuCmbEcWA

— The Dark Pictures (@TheDarkPictures) June 10, 2021

If you are wondering why this is called the "Pazuzu" edition, we have prepared a handy guide to clear things up.

Who is Pazuzu?

Pazuzu is a demonic figure from ancient Mesopotamian religion and is the chief antagonist of House of Ashes.

He might be familiar to those who have seen the 1973 horror classic The Exorcist as, contrary to popular belief, it is not actually the Christian devil that possesses Regan MacNeil in that film. Rather, it is Pazuzu masquerading as Satan to strike fear into the heart of the titular priest.

Although Pazuzu is never explicitly referenced by name in the first Exorcist, a statue of the demon is uncovered during the prologue in Iraq and it is heavily implied that this is what sets the rest of the movie's events in motion.

In the critically derided sequel, Exorcist II: The Heretic, Pazuzu is finally confirmed to be the entity that possessed Regan and he exhibits traits far more specific to the Mesopotamian king of demons.

Each of The Dark Pictures Anthology games has paid homage to legendary icons of horror cinema, so it was only a matter of time before they got around to (what many consider to be) the scariest movie of all time. Yet it is worth noting that Pazuzu did not first originate from The Exorcist and has a rich history outside of the film, dating all the way back to the early first millennium B.C.

A Pazuzu Statue in House of Ashes
A screenshot taken for the 'House of Ashes' announcement trailer, showing a statue of Pazuzu. Bandai Namco

Deriving from ancient Babylonian and Assyrian theology, Pazuzu was king of the underworld. A destructive force, he was believed to have dominion over the winds and used this power to inflict famine, drought, and plagues of locust upon humanity.

Paradoxically, he was also seen as the best way to prevent these things from happening, as Pazuzu-worship was said to offer protection against natural disasters. Unlike his depiction in The Exorcist, he was not unwaveringly evil but simply demanded loyal obedience.

In amulets, carvings and monuments (including the one seen in the first reveal trailer for House of Ashes) Pazuzu is often portrayed as a strange combination of animal parts, with the body of a man, the head of a lion, two pairs of wings, and a scorpion's tail.

What role he will play in House of Ashes remains to be seen but the game is set in his subterranean underworld and his name has been plastered all over the marketing. Speaking of which, you can even pre-order a Pazuzu diorama on publisher Bandai Namco's website, so he is clearly going to be integral to the story.

House of Ashes is developed by Supermassive Games and will be released on 22 October 2021.

Ashley Tisdale's Character in House of Ashes
House of Ashes features the likeness of High School Musical's Ashley Tisdale. Bandai Namco