Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is a first-person, story-based art game developed by The Chinese Room, who also did my beloved favorites Dear Esther and Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs. Considered a “spiritual successor” to Dear Esther, it takes place in a small town in Shropshire, England in the 1980s. As the unknown protagonist, you follow a mysterious, otherworldly, seemingly sentient orb of light, which guides you through the village and surrounding countryside to piece together what happened to the residents, who have all vanished. At specific points, the orb produces/triggers reenactments of conversations and encounters between villagers which took place there. In addition to these resurrected conversations, you also access telephones and radios throughout the village to hear recordings of dialogue.
“There is a spoon of medicine, I says, and it’s a silver spoon what you did get born holding, ever so painful for mummy dear but grasped so hard it was in a little screaming red fist. Later you used your spoon to dig a hole in the garden to get all the way to Mexico, and then you did eat worms with your spoon on the way to stay fat.
This spoon was the same you gave your twins, then you used it to dig a hole to their clockwork souls and you ate up their hearts like soup on the way to keep you fat.
Fat little mole, where will you dig next, I asks, you and your little silver spoon made from the silver spine of your children, and wrapped in the hair of your dearly departed?”
Although Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs has had a somewhat mixed reception since its release last September, it haunted and affected me as games rarely do. I think I even consider it to be stronger than its acclaimed predecessor, Amnesia: The Dark Descent – not from the perspective of gameplay mechanics or anything of the sort; and Descent is much scarier and more horrific in terms of actual terror. But I found Pigs to be much more moving, and darker in its far-reaching implications.
SOMA is an upcoming sci-fi survival horror video game from Frictional, the developer of the Penumbra series and Amnesia: The Dark Descent. This seems to have the intense atmosphere, deep horror, and lush graphics of the studio’s other titles, but in the new context of a science fiction setting within which it will explore existential themes. It’s set to be released in early 2015.
Neverending Nightmares is an upcoming PC game, in development by Infinitap, which promises to be eerie, atmospheric, and horrifically surreal. Inspired by the creator’s struggle with OCD and depression, the art style was influenced by Edward Gorey, and game influences include Silent Hill and Amnesia: The Dark Descent. Some of the imagery in the game comes from “intrusive thoughts” that have recurred to the developer, Matt Gilgenbach. In an interview with Penny Arcade, he describes how his personal experience with mental illness influenced the project.
The game focuses on exploration and has an interactive narrative structure, in which your actions cause the story to branch off and determine what the ultimate reality you awaken to will be. The gameplay and controls are simple and minimalistic. I love psychological horror games which involve little “action” (such as Tale of Tales’ The Path), and feel that they allow you to be more fully immersed in the experience, so I’m looking forward to this intriguing title.
An upcoming game that I’m excited for is Deus Ex: Human Revolution, the third installment in the Deus Ex series. Categorized as a “cyberpunk action RPG,” Human Revolution takes place in a dystopian world in the year 2027, where there are great advancements in the field of biomechanical augmentations, as well as the sociopolitical upheaval and corruption attendant on the availability of that technology. The trailer opens with a dream sequence/metaphor for the protagonist’s bionic enhancement, related to the Icarus myth, which I love.
A longer/more elaborated version of the trailer can be seen here.