Watch 12 minutes of Moons of Madness, the Cthulhu-on-Mars horror game

Moons of Madness was introduced in 2017 as a game that "aims to separate real mental illness from Lovecraftian madness." James said in his preview that he was "inclined to believe they're on the right path," as developer Rock Pocket Games aimed for a more realistic portrayal of mental illness than we usually see in videogames: "In parsing a family’s genetic inclinations from genuine cosmic horrors, the main character will ideally come to know their illness better, and become more capable of navigating otherworldly terrors as a result," he wrote.

Two years and one 12-minute gameplay trailer later, I have to wonder if that focus on realism is still a priority. The YouTube description nods at it, saying players will "be forced to explore the real-world fears of isolation and paranoia," but the weight of the thing seems to be on the cosmic horror side of the scale: "Terrifying visions and monstrous apparitions will make you question what is real and what is not as the very fabric of reality threatens to tear at the seams."

Rock Pocket's publishing deal with Funcom has also moved Moons of Madness into The Secret World setting, where Lovecraft-style supernatural horrors are real. That would also seem to take the edge off the "Is it real?" angle.

That said, the video itself looks pretty good, if relatively conventional: Flickering lights, spooky sounds, janky sliding doors that won't open, the little girl from The Ring, and jump scare! But it was all a dream—or was it?

And then there's the usual expositional exchanges with a disembodied voice in the headset, emails to read and photos to look at, spots of simple interactivity, and surprisingly little concern about the small glitches and bits of oddness in this extraordinarily complex and delicate space station we depend on to live.

It's still too soon to tell whether Moons of Madness will live up to its early promise, but even if it falls short of that mark it could still be a decent, if not exactly groundbreaking, Cthulhu-on-Mars horror game. It's currently slated to be out on Halloween, which for those of you who don't celebrate such things is October 31.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.