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It's a fact that narrative gaming has taken over a portion of the video gaming industry. Just take a minute to see the kinds of games being released onto the market, games that are reliant on player choice, games that are episodic and heavy on narrative, and games that are all about the story with no combat.
It was recently learned that the upcoming movie,The Woods, is actually going to be a sequel to the ground-breaking horror film, The Blair Witch Project. The Blair Witch Project spurred a movement in horror film, creating the "Found Footage" genre and giving us a whirlwind of found-footage horror films dealing with poltergeists, demons, Bigfoot, aliens and other creatures of the night. So with all the talk about The Woods, I started to think about the series as a video game. And with the string of narrative horror games that have been revealed recently, I feel like a story based on The Blair Witch Project would be a fantastic addition to the horror gaming genre.
1. The Story
The most important reason behind turning The Blair Witch Project series into a next-gen video game is the intense emphasis on its story. It's not entirely proven that The Blair Witch Project is based on any fact or real legend at all, but when the movie was released, so many people thought it was real, that it became a cultural phenomenon. There have actually been a number of developments of a Blair Witch Project video game, which all seemed to fall subpar or below standards. But with how many games are using new story elements to bring the narrative alive, I think a worthy studio taking on the project could really do it justice. One of the most popular elements of story today is making the game dependant on the player's choice where you get different endings with different choices. I could see this game playing a lot like Outlast where you are not armed and have to rely on being stealthy and knowing how to hide while experiencing the story, but I could also see decision-based gameplay playing a part.
2. The Setting
In the movie, the three film students who went missing in the woods in a small town in Burkittsville, Maryland creates an eerie and unsettling atmosphere. Just as other games have done so for similar situations (like Kholat with the mystery of Dyatlov's Pass), I could see this being a situation where the player has to figure out what happened, getting into a pickle of their own. Of course, the perfect setting for a horror game like this would be the woods, and I would hope that the developer puts an emphasis on atmospheric horror. In The Blair Witch Project, the movie is all about the atmosphere and the sounds, so hopefully the game would match that. With a setting as haunted and as ghastly and as perfect as that, it's hard to not want to make a game out of something so original.
3. The Villain
We've seen a number of different villains in the horror gaming genre, from Pyramid Head to the Licker from Resident Evil, to the paranormal in games like Fatal Frame. But what makes The Blair Witch Project unique is I've never played a narrative-heavy game where I'm hiding from a supernatural witch. And when I say narrative-heavy game, I mean something as well done as Life Is Strange or Outlast, with high-end game design and gameplay that is strongly based on the story. The idea almost reminds me of Slenderman---wandering around the woods trying to find your way out and you keep seeing something hunting you when you least expect it. I mean, could you imagine a game like this in VR? The atmospheric horror of being in the haunted woods combined with that unsettling feeling that someone's watching you could make for a horrifyingly immersive VR horror gaming experience. I would love to see what a developer would do with a supernatural witch villain.
So with The Woods on the way to theaters this year, it'll be interesting to see which direction the movie takes the story, and if it will still be an entire found-footage film, because the trailer I saw was just a teaser and hardly showed anything. But hopefully, someone decides that making a game based on the movie for next-gen systems might actually be a good idea. But for now, I think we'll be content with a long-awaited sequel. You can check out the teaser that I saw in theaters below.