Each week our resident Indie Gamer Nicholas takes a look at a different Indie Game that you may or may not have heard about. Join him on his adventures as he sifts through the rubbish to find The Indie Game of the Week.
One area where survival horror often tends to fail is making the player feel hunted. They’re missing that general-purpose feeling of dread; that all-encompassing anxiety that comes with having to constantly look over one’s shoulder.They fall somewhat short, relying more on jump scares and scripted sequences.
I’m happy to report that the developers of this week’s indie game – SCP: Containment Breach – did no such thing.
There’s a website tucked away in a dark corner of the web known as the SCP Foundation. Essentially, it’s a collaborative collection of creepy, disturbing, and downright terrifying stories pertaining to the supernatural. As with many elements of Internet subculture, it originated on 4Chan. It tells the story of a secret organization founded to contain and research anomalous artifacts and lifeforms.
Containment Breach is set in the world established by this site, and puts you in the shoes of a rather unfortunate Subject D-9341. Not much is known about this subject, save that they may have been a criminal before making their way to the facility. It’s also somewhat heavily implied that they’re an unwilling participant in the facility’s research: willing subjects generally don’t need to be escorted by armed guards.
9341 is assigned for testing with SCP 173: a murderous, somewhat goofy-looking statue. Naturally, everything goes pear shaped shortly thereafter. Most of the critical systems in the facility are shut down, and several dangerous creatures break free to begin slaughtering the inhabitants. Your goal from here is simple: survive, and escape.
Not so much. See, although 173 can’t move if you maintain direct line of sight with it, your character needs to blink every few seconds. When you blink, it can move closer. If it reaches you, you’re dead. Worse, it’s not the only thing that’s hunting you. As you make your way through the facility, you’ll encounter other, equally distressing creatures, all of whom seem to have a vested interest in making sure you don’t get out alive. Most are completely silent save for a few subtle audio cues.
To call it a harrowing experience would be a gross understatement. It’s positively terrifying: at one point, I actually ended up having to step back from my computer for a moment to regain my wits. No horror game has done that to me before: not even Amnesia.
Only when one considers how dated Containment Breach’s graphics are does it become clear just why this is such an accomplishment. Somehow, with graphics that look like they hail from 1999, it still manages to be more frightening than at least 90% of modern horror titles. The key lies in how it manipulates light and darkness, how it toys with your mind using sound, and how it forces you to mind something so seemingly-insignificant as blinking.
You can pick up Containment Breach here. It’s completely free, and the developers are still adding content to it on a regular basis. As for me? I’ll finish Containment Breach eventually. But for now, I think I’ll find something relaxing with which to occupy myself. I don’t think I’ll be sleeping tonight.