A lot of indie horror games tend to stay to a strict formula even if the devs don't notice it, I like to imagine that all indie horror devs have this list implanted into their brains and while making their project they're subconsciously checking things off it.
A fair example of this is jumpscares, everyone has seen them, we all know how the work, you lose or get caught and a monster shows up in front of your screen, this formula has worked for a few years now due to the popularity of games such as Five Nights At Freddy's and Outlast. Now I'm not saying the games are bad, quite the contrary, these are just examples of the formula working, but these games work on a shock factor to scare the player, FNaF uses jumpscares to make the player jump in shock (albeit becomes predictable when you get familiar with the series.) and Outlast uses gore and jumpscares to achieve more or less the same effect.
A Demon's Game will have no jumpscares whatsoever, because it is my belief that even though jumpscares are effective, they're overdone, and there's so much more a player can experience besides a chair jump here and there. It will focus on atmosphere and making you afraid of absolutely nothing, it will make you feel alone in a bleak world that at times seems like you have no chance of surviving, you're in that situation against your will and you have nothing but your wits and your gut to make it through. A question a lot of people bring up is if the game will "hold the player's hand", and the answer is a big no, I think I gave more than enough mechanics for the player to complete the game without checking a website on how to progress, the game will never give you the answers straight up, it will give you hints and clues, and trust me when I say the clues and hints are mostly never in front of you, look around you, ask yourself questions...what is the purpose of this room? What could I do here that could help me? These are questions that stayed with me during the development of the game, I made sure that the design of the game made sense in it's entirety and to dodge all the horror cliches.
One thing that I always wished horror games had was freedom, freedom in the sense of there's more than one exit to this level, because that would make sense in real life, but it isn't shown in the game because the game suffers from linearity, now A Demon's Game isn't open world or anything, but it has a system that features multiple branching paths, dynamically changing your story depending on where you go, and constantly throwing choices at the player, even small ones like completing a small puzzle can have an impact on your journey. This also ties in the fact that the game will feature multiple different endings, think of Until Dawn, it nailed this perfectly with their Butterfly Effect system and that's similar to what I'm going for, imagine that system but more grounded where you don't have 20 different choices, you have 3-4 and those choices will change your story dramatically instead of just a small change.
Most player have expressed some disappointment when I announced that the game would be episodic, with 4 episodes to boot. Let me explain my thought process for this, imagine a book series, where every book would feature the same main characters but the main story line would change, this is what I'm going for, the game features 4 different enemies to face off against, and they all have their character defined, they all have their reasons and they're going to be characterized in a way enemies in horror games have never been before, I'm honestly grown tired of facing off against an enemy in a game that seemingly had no reason for attacking the player, why would they attack me? What are their motives? There are all answers that will be answered rather quickly with each new episode. I've already stated that every episode will feature a different enemy, but that also means that every episode will feel like a different game, EP1 will be a more standard horror game, EP2 will be extremely psychological, EP3 will be a more surreal experience and EP4 I'm keeping a surprise.
I've done my best to change up the horror indie market, all there is to do is launch the first episode and see the community's reaction, the gaming market is brutal, if you fail, you're done. But, if you nail it on the first try, you might just have a future.
Try the demo here: Indiedb.com
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