Campy horror games with cheap jump scares and cartoonish monsters can be fun in their own way, the kind of game you enjoy watching a friend or a YouTuber play. But for true horror—those games where you turn off all the lights, set up surround sound and get scared to hell and back—you look for games that take themselves seriously.
SOMA. Alien: Isolation. Amnesia. Outlast. These modern classics mix terrifying, outlandish monsters with disturbingly plausible stories that make the horror and isolation feel real, and continue to haunt you even when you turn the lights back on.
That’s the kind of experience that game developer Rock Pocket Games aimed to recreate with their new horror PC game, Moons of Madness, which is now available on Steam and consoles in January.
Playing as astronaut Shane Newehart, your job maintaining an uninhabited Martian outpost takes a sudden, dark turn: strange phantom signals trigger the arrival of terrifying, tentacled monsters. Perhaps they’re just hallucinations, but unfortunately for Newehart, that doesn’t mean they’re not real.
Moons of Madness, a play on H.P. Lovecraft’s famous story In the Mountains of Madness, fully embraces the author’s love of eldritch horrors and psychological scares, but brought into a unique sci-fi setting that amps up the isolation and inescapability for the player. In space, it’s impossible to run and there’s nowhere to hide.
It’s The Martian meets Cthulhu, where you can’t let your dislike of terrifying demons get in the way of your job. You’ll need to be quick with your gadgets and your wit to keep the station running, even while you can’t trust what your eyes see. Otherwise, space can kill you just as quickly as a monster.
Beyond that, there are mysteries to solve and lore to unpack while exploring the station. You’ll have to decide how much of the information you find, the characters you meet, and even what you see can be believed or trusted.
But beyond the science and easter eggs, the core of Moons of Madness comes down to the monsters. And without spoiling too much, that freakish thing in the picture above isn’t the only unstoppable horror that will tear you limb from limb, unless you can keep out of sight.
Tentacled, cosmic terror is a beloved horror subgenre for gamers, with other classic horror games like Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem and acclaimed MMO The Secret World having been inspired by the same world of mystery and insanity.
In fact, developer Rock Pocket Games signed a deal with Funcom to bring Moons of Madness directly into The Secret World MMO’s world. Moons of Madness stands alone and doesn’t require you to have played The Secret World first, but this deal clearly shows that Funcom trusted Rock Pocket Games with their IP, and that Moons will likely share Secret World’s fascination with creepy conspiracies and dark mythology.