Psychological horror doesn’t get enough credit. Sure, horror titles where monsters are constantly assaulting you can be terrifying. But, they’ve got nothing on the fear created from mounting hopelessness and dread. Lesser Evil Games wants to toy with this delicate decent into terror in their new psychological horror RPG, The Executioner.
Seeking $19,000 on Kickstarter, The Executioner tells the story of Theodor Grim, the newly appointed royal executioner. Theodor inherited the job from his father whom His Majesty the King ordered beheaded under charges of treason. As his world is changing, competing factions are vying for control. Theodor must determine how far he’s willing to go for the truth.
The project began as an entry into the Lundum Dare 37 Game Jam. Since then the team has completed a prototype. This includes most of the game’s internal logic, mechanics, and plot. They hope Kickstarter will fund the remaining development. The graphics are minimal, with the torture of suspected criminals largely regulated to text descriptions. It’s a bold choice to rely on narrative rather than gore to carry the plot. Even so, The Executioner seems equipped to hand it.
Unleashing The Darkness Within
Players can choose how cruel or merciful they are towards their victims, though they are warned that the crown does not look favorably upon them failing to solicit confessions. With a limited amount of time, players must balance efficiency and sanity to succeed at their task and give the crowd the bloody spectacle they crave.
Underlining the basic choice-driven premise, Lesser Evil has also implemented additional gameplay mechanics to flesh out the world. The protagonist has the ability to discern truth from lies, but his job is to get confessions and carry out the King’s justice, not to question orders.
Rather than punishing or rewarding moral choices, The Executioner seeks to merely present the multiple outcomes of such choices to the player. This makes the horror less about getting the “good” or “bad” ending and more about deciding which decisions you’re willing to live with. No amount of jumpscares will ever feel so dark and foreboding.