Indie horror games, perhaps more than any other genre, seem to suffer a lack of originality. How many haunted asylums can you reasonably traverse before you feel like you’ve seen it all before? So, when developers experiment with a new mechanic, gamers take notice. This brings us to Gattai Games’ new echolocation horror title, Stifled.
If you’ve been online lately you may already be familiar with another echolocation horror title just released by Deep End Games called, Perception. Advertised as a “blind” horror game, the visually impaired protagonist uses high-fidelity echolocation to navigate a haunted mansion. Perception was one of the first high-profile games to incorporate the new mechanic, but critics have lamented that the game wasn’t as scary as they’d hoped. This has given Gattai Games the perfect opportunity to try their hand at creating terror from the unseen.
Part of the IndieCade E3 Showcase, Stifled is a spiritual successor of sorts to a Digipen Institute student game, Lurking. Both projects feature a minimalist graphic style activated by in-game sound waves. Lurking originally took the echolocation concept further by incorporating microphone input as an additional means of noise generation. Now Stifled aims to blend these mechanics with a more fleshed out mystery for players to explore.
Making (Sound) Waves
Sound makes the world visible, but also attracts the horrors lurking in the darkness. This means not only do players have to be wary of how much noise their character is making as they explore the darkness, but also of any startled gasps or yelps of surprise they may create on their side of the monitor.
Gattai Games is hoping the additional input will contribute to the games’ unnerving atmosphere and player immersion. Streamers and content creators should have plenty of fun with this as they typically talk to their audience throughout gameplay.
Some fans might see echolocation mechanics as the latest gimmick attempting to revitalize the genre. However, it would be shortsighted to undermine the potential it presents. Horror fans are encouraged to keep an eye on Stifled when it releases later this year on PC and consoles.