Wither Studios have reached out to fans of psychological horror games via Kickstarter in the hope of generating enough financial backing to turn their demo of IMMURE into a full game. The Kickstarter is seeking to raise £57,000 to fund the game creators turning IMMURE from a passion project into a full-time endeavour. With its richly-detailed hand-drawn characters and its gripping mystery, IMMURE has the potential to become a classic in the genre of psychological horror.
The game follows the fortunes, or misfortunes, of Will as he is trapped inside a mansion. It is no regular mansion, with Will travelling through interdimensional doorways to encounter a variety of tormented souls. The narrative thrust of the game is Will deciding whether to save or destroy these haunted beings while uncovering the secret of the mansion in order to escape its clutches.
As you would expect from a psychological horror, there are twists and turns promised during the exploration of the mansion’s disquieting rooms. The only indication that you are in danger is that you have started the game, with enemies constantly tracking Will for sinister purposes. The storyline draws thematic inspirations from the work of many previous psychological horrors, in homage more than in imitation. IMMURE’s creators have cited other games like Resident Evil and Silent Hill, as well as the classic stories of Stephen King, as influences for elements of the game. Where IMMURE truly comes into in its own is through its visuals. Its impressive hand-drawn characters and environments give the game a unique feel.
While its side-scrolling nature inevitably is more restrictive than an open world game, the gameplay is made compelling by the commitment to the game’s eerie mood. This will help IMMURE stand out from the crowd if its Kickstarter proves successful. The release of an hour-long free demo was received with widespread acclaim. Popular YouTuber Markiplier, famous for his gaming videos, gave a ringing endorsement of the game upon having played the demo. That kind of celebrity backing will likely stand the Kickstarter in good stead.
Many horror games devolve into mindless hacking, but IMMURE’s reliance on psychological horror looks set to give it extra dimensions that keep players coming back. Many of the most affecting horror movies are those that are rooted in psychological torment, with these movies another influence on the game. The Shining is the definitive example of this. Jack Nicholson‘s legendary performance as a man dragged into psychological darkness has become the touchstone for acting in horror movies.
While brutal violence and haunting monsters have the capacity to scare, psychological horrors mix the outwardly terrifying with the intangible to create layers of suspense and terror. Psychological horrors also thrive off introducing an unsettling atmosphere to an otherwise familiar environment. Horror loses almost all of its power if it is telegraphed.
This is why From Dusk till Dawn is so effective as a movie. The 1996 film, written by Quentin Tarantino, eases viewers into believing that it is just a run-of-the-mill crime story. It even stars George Clooney, which really lures the audience into a false sense of security. The surprising way in which it devolves into a film full of vampires and violence has helped make From Dusk till Dawn a cult classic.
In terms of games, NetEnt’s Blood Suckers 2 injects fear into an environment that is traditionally more comforting too. While the title is classic in its gameplay, the rich detail in its vampire characters adds an element of horror to the hunt for victory. Grand Theft Auto V likewise brings in aspects of terror into a genre of game that is usually free of scares, with a mission involving the shooting of aliens made eerier because of its unexpected nature.
The reliance on vampire imagery in From Dusk till Dawn and Blood Suckers 2 may be surprising at first, but it is not so subtle once it has emerged. IMMURE will take a very different approach, keeping players on edge with its constantly impending sense of danger. With multiple solutions to problems that arise, the choices of the gamer will feel significant. Giving the player such ownership in a game where the character walks a fine line between life and death greatly increases the fear factor.
The positive response to its demo suggests that there is a hit in the making, so it would be a disappointment if it doesn’t receive sufficient financial backing to become a completed game. For lovers of psychological horror, IMMURE could become an immersive gaming experience that scares and thrills in equal measure.