Low-ranking technician Shane Newehart has a simple job: Watch over a secret research station on Mars to ensure that nothing goes too terribly wrong before the replacement crew arrives. But things are going wrong. Systems are breaking down, there's a weird mist floating around, and the rest of the team is taking an awfully long time on that EVA mission. Is he going insane? Or is some insidious, malevolent force piercing the gossamer veil that separates our blinkered reality from the multi-dimensional horrors of... the Great Old Ones?
That's the setup for Moons of Madness, a sci-fi horror game set on the distant world of Mars, which as Newehart discovers to his great consternation is not nearly distant enough to escape the clutches of various Lovecraft-esque horrors. If all this rings a bell, that's likely because James covered an early demo for the game a couple of years ago.
A lot has changed since then, including a partnership between developer Rock Pocket Games and Funcom, which has signed on as publisher. That has enabled an expansion of "gameplay and scope," and also a subtle shift in the underlying fiction. Instead of a generic "Lovecraftian horror story," as Moons of Madness initially appeared to be, it now "draws upon the rich lore and mythology of Funcom's Secret World Legends," the Funcom fantasy MMO built around three secret societies—the Templars, the Illuminati, and the Dragon—contesting for control of a very Lovecraft-like world.
A Funcom rep said the Secret World connection leaves the basics intact while enabling Rock Pocket to more fully flesh out the Moons of Madness setting and story. "The great thing is that the Secret World universe fuses perfectly with the Moons of Madness setting," the rep said. "Both are set in our own, real world and both are very much in the realm of Lovecraftian horror, so it adds to the game’s story and backdrop."
And if you're not familiar with Secret World Legends, that's no problem—Moons of Madness still functions perfectly well as a standalone Cthulhu-style horror game.
Moons of Madness is expected to be out during the "Halloween season" of this year. Find out more at moonsofmadness.com.