Under The Radar is a weekly look at games that have ended up hidden through lack of coverage, but shouldn’t have. If you have a game that you think should be featured here, leave it in the comments and I’ll be sure to check it out.
It’s amazing how terrified a horror game can make you feel. Even badly designed horror games can create a strong sense of tension if the sound design and space between combat encounters are paid attention to. Amnesia, Silent Hill 2, and Fatal Frame are all excellent, well known experiences that plunge you into strange worlds where the stillness of the drab, dark environments help add to the sensation of fear they create. But what of a world that’s composed of happy, bright 2D sprites? Can horror exist there? This week’s game proves that it can.
I recently wrote about Ludum Dare, a competition in which designers make a game in a short amount of time based on a theme. TIGSource does a very similar competition amongst their users, though they don’t have such a short time-window, allowing games to come out a little more polished. A few years ago, they held the “Commonplace Book Competition” where designers picked out a piece of writing from H.P. Lovecraft’s notebook of unfinished ideas and designed a game around their choice. As you can imagine, taking inspiration from one of the masters of horror fantasy provides fertile ground for dark games, and is in fact where much of Amnesia takes its aesthetic cues.
Based upon the quote
“sounds – possibly musical – heard in the night from other worlds or realms of being,”
Eversion takes place in a 2D world reminiscent of NES games, and has the platforming mechanics common to that era. You control what looks like the top of a sunflower with legs as it jumps on top of creatures to eliminate them, and collects gems that are either free-floating in the environment, or hiding in blocks easily identifiable due to their happy facades.
What makes the game different is the ability to evert. While traversing across the happy land, you will cross small areas that will change the environment ever so slightly. The world will become a little off-color, and the bouncy musical track will clash with echoes of darker music. By everting in these spots, you can change the world around you, and it’s something that you’ll end up having to do to continue on in game. You’ll go deeper and deeper into these location until the platforms, enemies, clouds and trees seem from a different game entirely. While this in itself is surprising, the real horror comes when you’re deep inside these other worlds. Without spoiling too much, I’ll just say that the game changes your goals so drastically, that it ends up causing both shock and dread.