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Should I be excited about… Monstrum (PC)

Wow, this ships sure is dark and creaky and creepy. I wonder if I’m safe here. I wonder if the deck is busy. I wonder if the captain will let me steer the ship. I wonder if the mess hall is still open. I wonder if there’s any mashed potatoes left. I wonder what that noise is. I wonder what the glowing orange light at the end of the corridor is. I wonder if….. AAAUUUUUUUGHGGHHHHH!!!!

Monstrum is early in development. Early early. According to the text in the bottom right of the screen, it’s in alpha 0.1. Now that’s early.

2014-05-06_00001It’s very encouraging then to see a game that looks and sounds great, albeit a little rough, at this early stage. Team Junkfish clearly know how to create an Alpha that captures the tense atmosphere of a finished product, and while there’s still a lot of work for them to do to make Monstrum a full game, they have already nailed the feeling of isolation and vulnerability that you need to make a horror game work.

You explore the interior of a rusted, run down ship, looking for clues as to who you are and why you are there. It will feel familiar to anyone who has played Outlast or the recent spate of Slender games, and just as with those titles it won’t take long for you to realise that you are being haunted and stalked by a creature of some sort. I won’t spoil exactly what it is that’s after you, but I will tell you that at this point while Monstrum is an effectively terrifying experience when you’re running from the monster, when you do see it you’re likely to be a little disappointed. Still, there’s plenty of time for them to make it more frightening, and it’s clear that when the game is completed there will be far more to the experience than just this single antagonist.

2014-05-06_00006In many ways an abandoned ship is the perfect setting for a horror game. It’s dark. It’s makes creepy noises. It’s full of places to hide, for both you and the monsters, and no matter where you go, there’s no escape. And of course when you start a game on an abandoned ship you have a lot of questions. What happened on the ship? Why is there no one else here? What is that thing that’s trying to eat my face?

Monstrum nails the sound and environment design. This is a terrifying place to be trapped, and every bump and creak makes you stop in your tracks, terrified that you might be moving towards the source of the sound. It looks good too, and although some prefab art assets reappear too often, it’s likely that the developers will build up more layers of detail into the environments as they go.

2014-05-06_00003At the moment, Monstrum is a genuinely spooky experience. It works; the scares and the atmosphere are already there. From here, all the developer has to do is build on more gameplay and more story, and we could have the best horror game of the year.

You can check out more about Monstrum and Team Junkfish here.

Published inShould I be excited about...