Highrising Fear: Tower22

By Alec Meer on September 30th, 2011 at 11:06 am.

SPOOKY DESK

Zombies, girls with long, dark haircuts, things that vanish when you try to approach them, flickering lights, mutants: horror games seem less and less interested in doing anything else. The tropes of the genre are wearing desperately thin – which is why Amnesia was so warmly-received. Despite indulging itself in a fair few horror staples, it worked hard on the overall unsettling feel, and less on fairground ride jumps. Another indie project, Tower22, appears to exploring similarly ways of roundly convincing us that everything is terribly, terribly wrong – take a look at the 10 month old but extremely impressive and increasingly terrifying trailer below, and then cross your gnarled fingers that its creator will finish and release this tale of dread and monstrosity inside a Russian towerblock (as designed by a German dev). But what starts looking a lot like City 17 ends up as something else entirely…

The final shoot is incredibly creepy, even though the image itself wouldn’t be so if it were in a different context. Tower22 appears to be playing with unconventional imagery alongside the more familiar likes of sudden darkness and being chased by monstrous things. There’s a Gigerian element to it, certainly, but it’s a long way off Resident Evil or FEAR. Looks marvelously underwear-threatening, I must say.

Who knows when it’ll finally be released, given its lead dev is a plumber by day, but its development is still ongoing and being documented at genuinely fascinating and frank length on its own blog.

Via Indiegames.

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55 Comments »

  1. N says:

    I lol’d at the end myself.

    • Agricola says:

      Im usually a pussy when it comes to these games, but I though that was about as scary as Sunday dinner at my mother’s house.

    • Buckermann says:

      YOUR MOM is more scary than Tower22.

    • lurkalisk says:

      Looks like it has potential, but that… Last image was the last nail in this trailer’s coffin, for me. I just laughed.

  2. JiminyJickers says:

    I will avoid this to keep my undies clean I think, haha.

  3. Quine says:

    Nice sound design. Very Lynchian.

    As someone of a nervous disposition I may have to stay away from this.

    • MiniMatt says:

      Indeed, the sound design is excellent and a huge part of the creepy factor, ever increasing heartbeat evolving into metallic clanking and scraping with that background hum.

      Though why (oh why – puts on Points Of View voice) do horror characters / protaganists in creepy games always think “I’m pant wettingly terrified, I know what I’ll do – I’ll turn my torch off”

    • Kaira- says:

      Lynch wasn’t the first thing to pop to my mind (Silent Hill was, but then again, SH has taken a lot of influence from Lynch), but yes, very nice sound design.

  4. Theory says:

    He’s ripped an enormous amount of content from HL2. Textures, footstep sounds, even the apartment block models seen outside. I actually thought it was a Source mod with crazy post-processing until I went to the site and saw that he’s coding his own engine.

    Also, the bit at the end is silly, not scary. Perhaps if it was less obviously a 2D sprite that doesn’t do anything…

    • Icarus. says:

      Oh, well it can’t be all his own then, because those footsteps are definitely Source Engine yep. I thought it was a Source Engine mod after watching the video.

      (You know you’ve played too many Source Engine games when you can recognize the footstep sounds in an instant)

    • Davie says:

      I thought it was a source mod as well, although it was the boards, and the Nova Prospekt tiles, that made me notice.

      The thing looks promising, but original assets would definitely be a plus.

  5. GallonOfAlan says:

    Amnesia didn’t do anything new surely – it just did what it did particularly well.

    • Ricc says:

      I wouldn’t say that. Without going into mechanical spoilers too much, Amnesia avoids the trial-and-error trap of so many horror games and mostly relies on the powerful scares of the player’s imagination instead of making you jump. Also, the first person physics-based puzzles are quite novel, actually.

    • Pathetic Phallacy says:

      Nonsense, just taking away the player’s sense of power and sometimes even agency is entirely unique.

    • sassy says:

      No it wasn’t unique, ignoring the fact Penumbra did the same things we can still find many other games that did the same thing. One of the earliest games that I can think of was Hell Night for the playstation 1. That was rather primitive compared to Amnesia but really is quite a similar game.

    • Jahkaivah says:

      As far as horror games or heck horror anything goes, “run and hide from the monsters” is not exactly outside the box thinking. People accentuated that element in Amnesia largely to differentiate it from the horror action games that the AAA games industry makes. But really loads of horror games have done that sort of thing before now.

      Amnesia is rather generic really, I mean it’s a lovecraftian inspired game where you explore a darkly lit mansion and then the dungeon underneath it with a lantern, complete with monsters of course, very Alone in the Dark. The things you use to set it apart from other horror games (using spooky atmosphere, and making the player feel paranoid and vulnerable) are really just the staples of a good horror game.

  6. fenriz says:

    oh yes. Pick up or leave. Alone in the dark, right there.

    That aside, i see a lot of walking, lot of creeping, but no tinkering with stuff around which is what i love.

  7. diebroken says:

    That’s not how I imagined the Elephant of the Tower…

    I’m still Undying to play this though.

    • Nim says:

      Undying had me in absolutely tatters throughout the whole monastery.

    • Uglycat says:

      Still have Undying on my list of things to finish. Never got past the invisible monks.

    • Nim says:

      In the chapel? Scrye and run out of there.

    • Towercap says:

      Aw, Undying! One of the embarrassingly few horror games that I’ve actually managed to finish! S:

      The bit where the spooky lady was singing a lullaby to the zombie of her dead-in-childbirth mom made me pucker up.

      The end boss was balls though.

  8. c-Row says:

    Turning around just to be creeped out by a creature that wasn’t there two seconds ago doesn’t fall into the “fairground ride jump” category?

    • Aninhumer says:

      Yeah I was expecting something imaginative and new, but it’s just a generic monster out of nowhere. And it’s made even less effective by the player deciding to shine a torch right in its face for a while, before deciding it might be worth running away, or at least jogging away.

    • Arutha says:

      Agreed, sadly. Was also hoping for something a little different.

      To be honest, though, has any horror game ever really strayed too far from the mold? 99.99% of them seem to be entirely based around ugly things popping their head at you from somewhere dark that you were lead to believe was safe, accompanied by uncomfortably loud music and screeching sound effects. Apart from either giving you a weapon to hit it with or denying you the means to defend yourself, or maybe throwing in a few puzzles, there doesn’t appear to be all that much deviation, to me.

      Is there anything else a game can really do while still being “scary”? I honestly cannot think of anything.

    • sassy says:

      Most horror games don’t understand the subtleties of the genre. We’ve seen a few that have tried to grasp the concepts but none have truly gotten it. Amnesia was far from perfect but it really worked hard to gain it’s atmosphere and tried to implement the idea of monsters only being scary until you see them (a large part of amnesia is spent with only the briefest of glimpses of what is after you, sure you could stop and look at it if you wanted but the game tried to stop that). The project zero (fatal frame) series also tried many different horror ideas … and I was going to rant for a while but I just fell asleep while typing.

  9. The Sombrero Kid says:

    Backlit spinning fans are awesome. Looks a lot like the game I’m making, although mines is going to be puzzley & talky rather than scary, there’s not enough games like this.

    • diebroken says:

      DOOM, now with HDR!

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BpDWGJX4xH4

      It’s been a long time, Total Chaos mod for DOOM:

    • mcnostril says:

      Whoa. Now that was freaky in an awesome way
      The screaming hallway thing was pretty well done. You can slowly hear it coming so it’s not a cheap jump scare, but everything about it makes you not want to be there.

      I find I have this odd conflict when it comes to this type of game. It can be described somewhat as “show me more things I will desperately try not to see.”

  10. LennyLeonardo says:

    Yeah, this does look scary, but there’s not much game in the trailer.
    Plus, QTEs aren’t scary. Amnesia put you in MORE control (i.e having to yank a door open when running away etc.) and that’s where the horror was. Take control away and the fear goes too.

  11. Kaira- says:

    Reminded me of Silent Hill in more than one way. If it were a first person game with adventure-gameish system and without weapons, of course.

    • KenTWOu says:

      Silent Hill 4 The Room also has a giant face.

    • Kaira- says:

      I did link it, but it’s always a pleasure to see some 4PP-videos. :D

    • KenTWOu says:

      Wow, I didn’t notice that ‘one way’ contains two links! : )

    • Jake says:

      Yep, totally reminded me of Silent Hill as well – which is a good thing really. The bit it reminded me most of was the part of SH2 where you go into a room and the TV is off, and you come back and the TV is on flickering white noise.

      I think the problem with this video was that it was played in quite an unrealistic way – I don’t know about anyone else but I would not have taken my eyes off the thing under the blanket while I backed away, nor would I have just stood and taken a good look at the monster in the hallway. Half the terror comes from what you expect to happen, or blindly running away.

  12. Teronfel says:

    Holy shit that fat lady was scary!

  13. Vexing Vision says:

    I enjoyed the trailer when I saw it earlier today – up to the point where that creature showed up. That kind of killed the atmosphere, it looked silly and not scary.

    I’d have whacked it with my torchlight instead of running.

    • Askeladd says:

      Thats what I did with the bump at the bed in my imagination.

      ‘Whats that? Hm, let hit it and see if it feels pain’ *whack* ‘What you don’t like that?’ *whack, whack, whack*

      something like that.

  14. Askeladd says:

    He’s a plumber? Now it doesn’t suprise me that at the destroyed apartment the only thing that didn’t collapse was the pipe.

    I thought: ‘That’s a really good installation’

  15. Bullfrog says:

    Looks interesting, unfortunately far too terrifying for me to go anywhere near. Not entirely sure about the …thing that’s doing the chasing, not terribly frightening in itself. Also not sure what’s so bad about a picture of a fat woman (other than she’s all naked). Tone and style was very creepy though, if I bought this I’d never get through more than 1 or 2 corridors before turning it off.

  16. staberas says:

    QTE? no thank you

  17. El_Emmental says:

    I just read in the comments a few negatives remarks (like the HL2 content being used – I think it’s just placeholders), so I thought it would be useful to put that in context :

    The guy is a dutch plumber, doing that project with 1 or 2 other friends (who happen to have skills in making stuff like a sink model), when he’s not travelling abroad or being a busy father.

    So this project is not something he planned as the “ultimate project” that’s going to change gaming forever, earn him indie-fame or money, it’s really just a hobby, programming stuff along the way, learning something about programming every day.

    • buzzmong says:

      He’s not a plumber. His latest blog update clears it up. He’s an OS programmer by day.

    • Sif says:

      I know. People are tearing into a video from 10 months ago made by a small but dedicated team of amateurs a little harshly.

      I’ll be interested to try it out. It looks like it has a ton of potential. I just hope it actually gets made instead of disappearing quietly like so many, many other indie projects.

  18. BloatedGuppy says:

    Was pretty atmospheric and nifty right up until the goofy creature appeared. After that it got flat out ridiculous.

  19. Echo Black says:

    A wild BBW appears!

  20. ZIGS says:

    Needs more post-processing effects, I could still make out some details in the graphics

  21. Shooop says:

    I like the sound and some of the set design (I’m a fan of the old Silent Hill games), but the monster encounter and very last bit were more than a little ridiculous.

  22. Jake says:

    Oh it’s worth reading his blog – he isn’t a plumber, the motion blur will be fixed, the woman at the end was a joke, it temporarily uses some HL2 sound effects, etc.

  23. JackShandy says:

    Thanks, but I only play horror games that are elaborate symbolic allegories for sex and things. Helps me feel like everything isn’t just put around the place randomly in the position that will inflict the most scares. (Why are there faces on the walls? Because the dev decided that was scary.)

  24. bromelain says:

    Silent Hill vibes are great and all but what really excites me is how much it reminded me of the RE 4 prototypes made before Capcom decided Spanish farmers were scary.

  25. Gabbo says:

    I thought that was well put together, except the joke ending. It had sound and lighting working in its favour. flashing ‘press shift’ pulls you out of the situation, but hopefully that’s only there for movie purposes. Would have been a little more suspenseful if it didn’t seem like whoever was playing was manipulating the flashlight more for dramatic effect than in-game usefulness/showing off the engine.

  26. LTK says:

    I thought the thing-under-the-sheet bit was pretty frightening. Although I wonder what would become of a horror game if it had a choice-driven branching ‘storyline’. Like, do you simply run away, of do you pull the sheet off?