With several new games being revealed based on the short stories written by H.P. Lovecraft, including Call of Cthulhu from Focus Home Interactive, and now Moons of Madness by critically acclaimed indie developer Rock Pocket Games; it would seem that Lovecraftian horror has returned.
For those not familiar with this genre of horror, these games take inspiration from the esoteric author who penned several short stories in the early 20th century. These were based on rather strange narratives; focusing heavily on Cthulhu, a sea-god that rewards his followers with gold while demanding blood sacrifice. Earlier games such as Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth which launched on the original Xbox and PC, brought to life some of the terrifying experiences penned by Lovecraft while digging deep into the lore of the Cthulhu Mythos.
The latest project by Rock Pocket Games takes inspiration from the writer and introduces the narrative to a new setting, Mars. You play as Shane Newehart, who is stationed on the red planet. Strange events start testing the limits of the Astronaut's mental health; as he slowly loses his mind being isolated on the desolate lifeless rock. Since the original stories are mainly based in coastal towns, it remains to be seen how well it translates to a place where there are no oceans.
The game focuses on key mechanics according to the press release:
- Combining hard science, based on meticulous analysis of NASA and Space X research, with Lovecraftian horror.
- An innovative feature called “Zone Outs” that simulates Lovecraftian madness. Players are exposed to hallucinations and visions they play through as part of the game. They have to understand what the visions are expressing as they foreshadow certain events mapping out the character’s history.
- Exploring mental illness through various game modes without antagonizing the medical condition itself.
These have been a staple of games based in the lore; most notably the 'insanity system' that was introduced in CoC:DcoE, which saw your character lose his mind, causing your keyboard and mouse cursor to behave erratically, increasing the difficulty during specific events. CEO of Rock Pocket Games Ivan Moen commented on how the game will keep to the unique character of the genre:
"Moons of Madness is more than just a sci-fi psychological horror game, it's a project that the team has been brewing for a long time and aspires to redefine the genre by immersing the player into the character’s psychology and its mental illness, as fans of H.P. Lovecraft, it was easy for us to anchor the game with solid references from his visceral story telling material. At the same time we have invested a lot of time and energy mastering Unreal Engine 4 to create a realistic Martian world, which is perfectly illustrated in the high production value and stunning visuals found in the launch trailer.”
The game is scheduled to launch in 2018 on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC. Rock Pocket Games is known for building popular mobile games, and this will be the first fully fledged console release by the developer.
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