The Deep End Games impressed us with Perception, an innovative take on the horror genres, and while Bill and Amanda Gardner were showing Perception at PAX East this year (including the all too cool prototype of Perception on VR), that’s not what we were excited for.
I, of course, was curious, and made for their booth at the first opportunity my all too crammed schedule would allow. I arrived, and was asked if I wanted to take part in the interactive teaser for _dark_web_. I, of course, said yes.
A curtain behind the display area was pulled aside, and I was motioned in. Beginning to question the emphatic nature of my “yes“, I entered. It was black, lit only by two strings of LED lights. It was as If I was in a small hallway, and at the other end stood a figure, cloaked in black and wearing a mask with a line of white spray paint across it’s eyes.
“Okay,” I thought “this is how I die. Worse ways to go than covering indie games at PAX East“.
Luckily, the figure only beckoned to me and, ignoring everything I’ve ever learned from horror movies, I walked forward. There was a laptop in front of me, asking me to input my email address, which I did. I was then presented with three separate audio files, which played automatically in turn.
The first was titled “Frostbite“, and you could hear a person running through snow, breathing heavily and the sound of wolves.
The second was “The Forsaken“, and was only the sound of someone walking on glass in an empty building or corridor.
Finally, there was “The Harvest“, in which you could hear someone walking through a field, being attached and smothered by something before escaping, and the ringing of their cell phone to static.
After having listened to all three, I was asked to choose one. I made my selection (The Forsaken) then was directed out of the experience by the attendant. Speaking with Amanda Gardener after this interactive preview provided a bit more context:
dark_web is planned (this is still very early in the development process, so could/will change) to be a horror anthology, launched in episodes, which are each self contained, but still relate to the central narrative revolving around a message board on the dark web. Amanda was excited about this format because it allows a larger level of artistic freedom: they’re free to try something new or different on a single chapter/episode without taking the entire project in that direction. Amanda mentioned that Perception didn’t give them that freedom, and it’s something they were really looking forward to.
I too am looking forward to this. Perception was incredibly innovative, not just mechanically, but also narratively, in how it approached the idea of a horror game. Opening that up and letting Amanda and Bill go wild with new ideas can only result in some truly innovative and terrifying finds on the dark web.