Horror is one of the more popular genres out there, having a strong presence in books films and video games. One of the main appeals of horror is the excitement it offers by tapping into one of the most basic and strongest of human emotions – fear. It offers its viewers a thrilling experience of going through a fictional event without the need for bodily harm and in a way, may provide a brief respite from a boring life. The genre has long been apart of human history. Tales and stories told by ancestral nomadic tribes around the campfire to explain the unknown creates the superstition and fear that still has influence today. Though the context has evolved over the years, fear never changes and creators of horror craft stories that exploit cultural fears and elicit strong emotional responses.
The appearance and subsequent popularity of video games took the horror genre to new heights. Rather than just being a mere observer, video games allow for a more immersive experience through interaction with the world itself. One of the more innovative approaches to this is the creation of cinematic storytelling games where immersive stories are told in a movie-like fashion but players are given the power to make decisions for the characters that will affect the outcome. Through cinematic storytelling games with horror elements are few and far in between, a collaboration between UK video game developer Supermassive Games and Bandai Namco might change that.
Developed by Supermassive and published by Bandai, the Dark Pictures Anthology is a series of 8 standalone cinematic horror games titles set to be released every 6 months. Supermassive was the studio who created the widely successful horror game Until Dawn released in 2015 which uses a cinematic interactive gameplay and butterfly effect system where choices made can drastically alter the story. The first game in the Dark Pictures series titled Man of Medan was released on 30th August 2019 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. Taking inspiration from the legend of the Ourang Medan, the game follows a group of friends on a diving expedition that goes horribly wrong when a series of events traps them on a ghost ship. Apart from making choices that will determine the characters’ fates, the game is unique in that it also allows for online and offline multiplayer play through two modes, “Shared Story” and “Movie Night.”
Future entries in the series are currently being developed with the studio aiming for the release of two games a year. While it seems ambitious on their part, it was assured that the studio had already had plans for future stories. The second game in the series, Little Hope is set for a 2020 release and moves away from the open ocean to a small town. The teaser can be viewed below.