The idea behind the cellar found in "the next level"
This post was originally posted in the Enola IndieDB page, here.
When Enola was taking shape, we had this idea of "no monsters" in the game, because we thought using the environment was a good idea to make players feel uneasy. It turns out that idea was right and wrong at the same time.
The good part is the use of the environment can be really disturbing. Games like Silent Hill throw enemies at you, but the parts that stick are those related to something you saw in the environment (like the big mirror in the hospital storage room in Silent Hill 3). Besides, it creates this sense of anxiety that makes the player think something can happen at any minute.
The bad part is this can get old and we may end up with an exploration game rather than a horror game (like Dear Esther). It also removes all the sense of danger, which is something that has to be present in horror games. This issue has caused some people to wonder if you can actually die in the game, because there are no enemies (and also we don’t have a "health bar" or something like that).
Right now, you can die in the game, but only when you fail a death trap.
I like to think nothing in a game is written on stone, meaning that we can change anything we want as long as it produces a better result, and fits the nature of the game. When designing the next level (the one we’re working on right now), we thought it would be cool to make players run into the killer, and if you got close enough, you’d get killed.
The basic idea was there, and while I’d thought of certain events that can trigger this, and how it could work. I also knew I didn’t want the Amnesia-like chases because the killer is not the kind of person that would mindlessly chase you through the entire level.
Then, Slender came out.
The slender man in that game is closer to what the killer in Enola would be: some sort of hunter. Then there’s the fact that, since we’re talking about a killer, you will actually get killed if you get too close (or if the killer gets too close).
Slender gave me the inspiration to think how the enemy could work in the cellar environment. The cellar is going to be a near-pitch-black area and you will need a flashlight to navigate the place without getting lost (or killing yourself). In the cellar you will need to solve a couple of puzzles so you can advance, but the killer will be there hunting you. Again, this will not be the "run after you" thing, but rather an actual "hunting" while every step counts.
Adding the visible killer doesn’t mean we’re adding combat to Enola, because combat is not something that "fits" into the game. I haven’t posted anything about the player character yet, but if there’s something I can say is that the player character is not a fighter (pretty much like Heather in Silent Hill 3 or any character from Fatal Frame). This person is not any better at using weapons or firearms than me (and I can’t use firearms). Besides, when you add combat to a horror game it starts its path down the "action horror" genre, and Enola is not an "action horror" game.
What happens if the killer gets you? Same that happens if you fail a death trap: you die.
There are not hundreds of things that kill you in Enola, so I was thiking deaths should be something to remember. There’s still a lot of work to be done before the first "memento mori" kind of death can be shown, but that will happen as we work more on this level and iterate on the previous levels. While I could simply tell you what I mean by "deaths should be something to remember," I figure I’ll leave that for the next post 🙂