By – Mike Bezek

Huntsman: The Orphanage Steam Greenlight

I remember the good old days of gaming horror. You know, those sepia-toned halcyon days where the ambiance of every horror title wasn’t spoiled by being ruthlessly spammed on YouTube as a Let’s Play/Pretend to be scared shill. Honestly, if I see one more Amnesia or Nightmare House video with aggrandized reactions, I may get very violent; stabby, even. The surging popularity of scary titles in recent years had resulted in homogenized experiences where jump scares and gameplay-focus has diluted the most important factor: Writing.

Utilizing live-action story sequences that stitch the games twisted tale together, Huntsman: The Orphanage has a unique twist to a genre obsessed with the dark tinge of red. Rather than forcing needless gore on the player, Huntsman is devoid of blood, or violence for that matter. Shadowshifters has risen above the standard trope of blood, guts and physical violence in their title and placed psychological terror in its place. Unless you suffer from hemophobia, seeing gallons of blood slosh along the floor, or spout from a severed digital artery wouldn’t make you look up from your morning Apple Dapples. Mainly because Apple Dapples are delicious, but also because these previously shocking scenarios are now antiquated.

Huntsman looks to be picking up the reigns of Amnesias legacy by providing the player with context instead of raw stimuli. A horror game should not simply about jump scares and scratches upon a rickety violin, but rather crafting an atmosphere so plausible that once it enters your psyche, you are inconsolable. While the obvious focus on the avian plague doctor’s mask in the art for the game may mean the title centers on a “sickness”, there are so many good things going for The Orphange that it becomes a non-issue.

You can check out all of the details on Steam Greenlight, where Huntsman is enjoying much acclaim. Give it a little push, but not too harsh, OK?

http://www.youtube.com/watch/embed/ahtAsiAYlOA

 

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  • http://www.facebook.com/dene.waring.9 Dene Waring

    Dene here, dev of Huntsman – thank you for picking up on the aspects we feel the most passionate about!

    • Mike Bezek

      Not a problem Dene.I have been playing Survival horror titles for years, and being a huge fan of Silent Hill 2, I immediately identify with a game that wants to tell an actual story. I am looking forward to having a go with the demo.

      • Adam Ames

        Yeah, I mean, who wants a story? Just make a game with cussing, explosions and cussing. Instant sell.

        • Steven S

          Don’t forget the impossibly proportioned heroine whose costume defys the very laws of physics.

  • David Queener

    I hope it doesn’t fully pick up Amnesia’s legacy, I ran smack dab in to the game mechanics with that, and it turned the horror into imposition. The monsters stopped being villains and threats, and started being limits and constraints. Its mechanics clashed with the art as well, as you could carry only a lantern, and not that small candelabra – the one that is perfect for carrying and designed as such – that you lit with the tinderbox. You were also defenseless against monsters because of the game design logic – despite carrying around a device made of explosives and shrapnel.
    -
    I hope this is not the case with Huntsman, and it may not be. I love the look of the mechanic of using the phone’s screen to depict a separate reality, though it does immediately bring my mind to a more naturalistic angle of “I wonder what frequency they communicate on? What other devices could this be picked up by? Can I record this?” Which reminds me of the not uncommon mechanic of photographing ghosts to make them disappear, and that always comes across as more of an epistemological dilemma regarding belief, and evidence.
    -
    Regarding the atmosphere being plausible, I must say I love (hate) that. Whether direct similarities or merely consistencies, this is what takes a game into the realm of horror for me. I know many people do not enjoy the Paranormal Activity films, but they do something for me simply out of their setting – the scenes I am watching unfold, are unfolding in the same sort of places I am watching it in (at home, not in theaters). Okay now this is just turning into rambling.
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    I look forward to trying this Dene, I hope a demo, or at least a nice sample will be provided when it is ready. :)

    • Steven S

      I agree 100% with that assesment on Amnesia. I never even finished that game because of it. I know what they were going for, the idea that you need to be vulnerable to be scared, but it didn’t work for me. I didn’t feel vulnerable so much as annoyed. I think the right balance was found in games like Alone in the Dark and Silent Hill and even to an extent in Alan Wake. These titles give you the tools and weapons to confront any, but not every, threat in the game. If you set out to destroy all monsters you would run out of ammo well before you ran out of monsters, this gave you the choice to fight or run. The other way would be to go the 7th Guest route, nothing can actually hurt you but you do have to subject yourself to all the creepy element as you seek out the next puzzle. This is what I was thinking when I saw the Huntsman trailer and the ghost girl asked to help find her ribbon. If throughout the orphanage you have items or clues that must be found or used to get past certain areas then you will have enough linearity to tell the story with out the distraction of someone using speed, reflexes and firepower to take shortcuts.

      I love the idea ofusing the phone in this game It takes something very normal and useful (I never go anywhere with out my phone and I hardly ever make calls) and transforms it into something menacing. I shouldn’t be afraid of a phone, but in a situation like in the game you are stuck with either being afraid to look at it or afraid not to.