As I’m sure I’ve made abundently clear in the past, horror games are not my thing. I don’t like jump scares and I quite like not needing to have several pairs of clean underwear at the ready when I go into a new game. I can, however, see the appeal this genre has to many other people and therefore have no issues telling you lovely lot when something new and creepy is due to hit our screens. In this case we’re talking about Song of Horror, and we’ll be seeing its first two episodes this Halloween.
Song of Horror is a game that’s been five years in the making. The project came to life when the game’s creators left college and were trying to figure out what to do next. Five years is a long time and the concept first fathomed back then has evolved into something truly terrifying.
The first thing to note is the characters, each of whom has a unique set of attributes to make them stand out from each other. You won’t find any copy/paste PCs in this game. Equally if not more importantly The Presence, the game’s antagonist, has not only grown more frightening over time but also smarter. It learns and adapts to each player’s behavior, scaring and threatening them through various unique events.
Fear is something that’s been lovingly nurtured and crafted in Song of Horror. There are various ways this has been executed. One of the more simple sounding of these (though certainly not simple to execute) comes down to the camera. Camera angles have been very carefully thought out with cameras being set across the five scenarios players will face to maximize atmosphere and therefore breed terror.
This game plays with two very important factors. As I’ve mentioned, you have a smart AI which recognizes the pace and rhythm of the player’s movements. This isn’t a game of pre-loaded scares or well crafted cut-scenes. Something unpleasant could happen to you anywhere on the map at any time. With events being real-time, the fear they cause will be real-time, too.
The other thing Song of Horror plays with is permadeath. This isn’t a game of lives. You can’t just die, jump back to the nearest save point, and try not to get eaten again. Dead is dead. With this being said, if you lose your character, you lose them for good, making your actions all the more important.
I think it best to let some of this come from the horse’s mouth. “We wanted the player to feel defenceless and we wanted to play with permadeath,” says Protocol Games. Players won’t have weapons in Song of Horror and will have to defend themselves from The Presence using nothing but their wits. As for the permadeath, the idea was to “tell a story with a main character and a bunch of supporting characters that could shape that story. We love the idea of having characters instead of lives so, when a character dies you lose him or her forever.“
Interestingly, when you die you won’t go back to the start. Your next character will pick up from where their fallen comrade left off. This means that the world is being shaped not only by your actions on your current play but also those of your previous ones.
We haven’t mentioned anything really about the game itself. You’ll take the role of one of thirteen unique characters. You’ll then explore uniquely frightening locations in an attempt to find clues and solve fiendish puzzles as you investigate a series of unexplained disappearances.
This looks like really compelling stuff. If you want to find new ways of experiencing horror this might well be a brilliant way to go. Nothing here is canned and the fear will be real. The question is can you survive? You can find out on Halloween when episodes 1 and 2 hit Steam. If you’re enjoying yourselves enough to see all five planned episodes, the other three will appear in December, January, and March, respectively.
Hailing from Southport England, Alex started his gaming career in the late 80s on a Commodore 64. Since that time he's either owned or played on virtually every console released. Alex happens to...