Grave wants to be the Eraserhead of indie games, has free demo
Forget trying to make the Citizen Kane of games, that's been done. Indie dev Broken Window Studios has its sights set on a far weirder goal. They want their horror game, Grave, to deliver the same discombobulating sense of strange as David Lynch's weirdo classic Eraserhead.
The new trailer for the game gives an interesting sense of how the game's shifting, procedurally generated world, will present a series of strange challenges for the player. It's also worth noting that the transition between day and night is a key part of the gameplay. Take a look…
I have some concern that the using-light-to-defeat-enemies mechanic is a little too familiar from Alan Wake. When I ask designer Tristan Moore whether he considered going without enemies, he tells me: "We always intended for there to be [enemy] encounters in Grave. One of my major influences for starting on the project was the Salvador Dali-inspired short film Destino, where at one point it becomes dark and a statue frighteningly comes to life. We really liked the idea of splitting emotional levels between a safe, (but strange), day experience and a more threatening night time."
What's particularly interesting to me is the disorientating atmosphere—what is that spinning monolith?—and the fact Grave will support Oculus Rift, for a truly immersive freakout. Perhaps I'm just missing home, but the deadpan UK accent gives proceedings a deliciously chilling vibe. Actually, I'm pretty sure that the voice on the trailer is that of Aby Moore, who's the artist on the game, and is also married to Tristan.
I note this as a reminder of how indie development is a labour of love, and in this case a family affair—and also as a way of segueing into the fact that Grave is currently a third of the way to reaching its Kickstarter goal, with two weeks left to run. So, perhaps appropriately for a game with survival horror elements, they're cutting it fine.
So what happens if they don't hit that goal? "We can pursue alternate funding, attempt another Kickstarter campaign in the future, or continue to work on the game in our spare time," says Tristan. "We didn't have any experience running a Kickstarter project prior to this and because we're a small indie team without many prior credits, it has been difficult to get media access." Well, we can help there.
If you're thinking of backing Grave, why not check out the demo first? It's entirely free, and you can grab it here. The full version of Grave is due out in 2015, and you can currently also find it on Steam Greenlight. I'm going to check the demo out. I hope it lives up to the Lynchian comparison, because if so that means the studio might eventually go on to make its Blue Velvet. "Right click to use laughing gas."