Question has released a new video of The Blackout Club, showing off seven minutes of cooperative teen-horror action.
The video, which is narrated by Question’s co-founder Jordan Thomas, demonstrates how the game’s systems aim to produce a dynamic surburban horror, as a group of teenagers band together to solve an “occult conspiracy” plaguing their hometown.
Currently in early closed beta, the developers received “a few more signups than we anticipated” and decided now would be an optimum time to show the world how the game functions.
The video begins with Thomas and Question’s producer “Patches”, sneaking around a house at night. Their objective is to collect evidence of the cult’s actions, which they do by photographing and recording footage of bizzare objects and occurrences with their smartphones. “The kids in the Blackout Club can’t trust their parents, or their teachers, any of them could be a 'sleepwalker'," Thomas says.
As the pair explore, their game is suddenly invaded by one of the game’s testers, who assumes the role of an enemy teen working for the cult. Known as a “Stalker”, the invader’s job is to track down the Blackout Club and alert the cult to their activities. “We weren’t planning on showing off this feature as part of this video. But this is how it’s meant to feel, that they could show up at anytime out of the blue,” Thomas points out.
The Stalker’s actions alert the attention of "the Shape", who Thomas describes as the game’s “Boogeyman”. Entirely invisible, the Shape can only be seen if the player closes their in-game eyes. This provides a rough outline of the Shape, but blinds you to the rest of the environment. Hence to avoid getting caught, players essentially have to wilfully blind themselves, a pretty neat way to generate tension.
In the second half of the video, the team are chased by Sleepwalkers into a strange underground labyrinth, which is very different in design to the town above. Together they ambush a sleepwalker and render him unconscious.
All-told, the game looks to be a fascinating blend of Question's own development canon. The stealth gameplay is reminiscent of Thomas’ work on Thief, while the aesthetic has pretty strong Bioshock vibes about it, unsurprising given how both co-founders are Irrational veterans. The way enemies move reminds me of Bioshock’s splicers, while the lighting and surveillance cameras are all very Rapture-y, particularly when the teens move underground.
In play, however, it appears more like a stealthy Left4Dead, with lots of tense sneaking punctuated by frenetic fights and chases. I noticed a couple of other neat things too. At one point Thomas launches a drone that his character is carrying on his back, and uses it to surveil a nearby room, which offers a hint of the gadget-based abilities the teens will be able to deploy. Players can also hack into the radio frequency the cult uses to communicate, to listen into their dispatch and anticipate their movements.
It all sounds very promising. The Blackout Club will launch early next year.