First reported on by Gaming on Linux (opens in new tab), Enter the Hibernaculum (opens in new tab) strikes me as one of those videogame "two great tastes that taste great together" that really should have been acted on by now: combine the inherent claustrophobia and challenging navigation of old first person dungeon crawlers like Eye of the Beholder with an industrial sci-fi atmosphere and gruesome biological horror sensibility.
The result is absolutely captivating. Hibernaculum has one of those mondo-chunky ancient UIs that take up half your screen real estate. No abstract white lines or tasteful transparency in sight, it's rendered like some tactile, metal piece of technology—think the Fallout series' various takes on Pip Boys, or the way Baldur's Gate's menus all look like they were hewn from stone. Your gameplay screen is squeezed into the top left, and I feel like this enhances the claustrophobia already inherent to Hibernaculum's rusted hallways and other, more esoteric-looking environments.
Hibernaculum's Kickstarter trailer shows off some of its old-school, stiffer, seemingly grid-based gameplay, but the real highlight for me is all the pixel art horrors on display. These things are nasty, and they remind me of the works of Zdzisław Beksiński (opens in new tab), a maestro of surreal horror painting and one of the major influences behind last year's underappreciated gem, Scorn (opens in new tab).
It's hard to pick favorites out of Hibernaculum's gnarly lineup, but the simple, mute horror of an empty spacesuit, its visor just a black void really hit me. I'm also quite fond of the disgusting red flatworm with a primary attack that looks like it's ejaculating, the feel-bad favorite of 2023!
I'm not huge on jump scares, but ever since falling in love with Scorn last year I've realized I crave a game that just traps me in a thoroughly unpleasant, surreal dreamscape for anywhere from five to 30 hours, and Hibernaculum definitely looks like it fits the bill. The game is quickly approaching its initial Kickstarter (opens in new tab) funding goal of $48,000 with 25 days to go, and its initial stretch goals include a robotic companion, commitment to a simultaneous Nintendo Switch release, and a "mystery goal," one that I hope is suitably nasty!