Phantasmal: Roguelike Horror Game Channels H.P. Lovecraft

A new first-person horror game is on the way that aims to mix up the experience a bit by combining roguelike elements with classic Silent Hill-style exploration, but with today's emergent and unpredictable gameplay progression.

Head of the development team, Joe Chang, commented about what the goal of the game was and how the team planned to achieve it, stating...

“One problem with many of our favorite horror games was that we would only experience peak fear the first time we played through. Subsequent playthroughs would inevitably be far less scary (sometimes not at all) because we would know where the scares would be coming from. Even during the first playthrough, with many horror games the player would figure out patterns of where the jump-scares would come from, which would also lessen the fear factor.”

This is pretty slick, actually.

The concept revolves around continuous dread, tension and horror as opposed to simply relying on scripted jump-scares. This reminds me a lot of the emergent horror themes that cropped up from indie studios dabbling in non-conformist game progression, where you're randomly wandering around environments or locations that may change or randomize on each playthrough or have a random enemy A.I., that doesn't follow a very specific path. For instance, we've seen the dynamic A.I., in games like Slender: The Arrival that keeps players on their toes because when and where he appears is never for certain.

With Phantasmal, players are put in a similar position as Slender, where enemies and horror-encounters are not limited to strict, linear pop-out moments or location-based scares. This is one of the things that I think really takes away from Resident Evil and like-minded games, given that every time you play it you're going to get the exact same experience every time around. The difficulty isn't in the horror but in the restrictions of the game set around the supposed elements of horror (usually, preset ammo limitations or health supplies, something players can overcome by stocking up on supplies before getting to that point.)

Phantasmal will focus on randomizing levels both horizontally and vertically; so no two playthroughs will be the same.

Joe mentions that enemy encounters will be distinctly unique as well, but we don't have a clear cut idea of just how many monsters will be in the game. I'm sure there's something that can be left for player-discovery if the game completes its Kickstarter campaign.

We also get to see that the game will focus a lot on item-scavenging and survival aspects. While the typical melee and projectile weapons are included in the game, one of the things that I thought was pretty neat was that light will work for and against – as the illumination can attract monsters your way.

I'm also really digging the Cthulhu monster designs and Lovecraftian aesthetic -- it really looks like it engages in the Silent Hill visual themes with a splash of today's technology.

If you like what was on display in the video above, feel free to pay a visit to the game's official Kickstarter web page.

Will Usher

Staff Writer at CinemaBlend.