House Of Shards: Kraven Manor

By Adam Smith on June 12th, 2013 at 2:00 pm.

Kraven Manor is full of creepy statues, dusty corridors and locked doors, but rather than searching for keys, the player can only make progress by reconfiguring the layout of the building. It’s a shifting prison-nightmare, a mechanical puzzle mansion with horrifying contents that bring back memories of Amnesia, particularly in the audio department, some of which is distractingly familiar. It’s a remarkable thing though – a student game, free to download and as attractive as a professional release. The ability to change the mansion’s layout, collecting and moving rooms on a scale model, is a superb idea and ties back to the story rather than simply being a playful mechanic. A work of distinction.

The trailer doesn’t quite communicate the slow-burn nature of the game’s atmosphere. While it’s short and therefore gets to the point rather more quickly than I reckon the designers would ideally like it to, there are texts to read and history to uncover. There’s the occasional ‘BOO’ moment but I felt they were earned and effectively telegraphed. Not too obvious and not too cheap.

Kraven Manor is the work of a team at The Guildhall at Southern Methodist University in Texas. I have no idea what the rest of their classmates are producing but this but this seems like the sort of assignment that probably stands out from the crowd. It’s as effective a short-form frightener as I’ve seen in a good while and the construction and deconstruction of the manor is the sort of thing that I’d love to see revisited.

Download here.

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18 Comments »

  1. Suction Testicle Man says:

    Why won’t cheapskate students develop for cheapskate operating systems?! I don’t know what a Windows is, but it sounds expensive.

    • BTAxis says:

      Maybe they actually wanted someone to play their game.

      • GallonOfAlan says:

        Zing!

        Their college presumably avail of Microsoft educational pricing for operating systems and development tools. The tools, if Microsoft, are generally excellent.

      • Suction Testicle Man says:

        2% of total Steam users and rising. Hold on to your wannabe-toybox seat!

        • Christian Dannie Storgaard says:

          Well.. 1.5% – 2% and about stable for the past month or two, if you want to be precise.

          I don’t have any Windows systems myself and run exclusively Linux, so I would have liked a penguin flavoured version myself. It should be quite possible to achieve, seeing as the game is programmed in .NET and I hear that Mono and MonoGame run that sort of thing exceedingly well these days (according to two of the porters working on the last few Humble Bundles).

          I’ll see if either Mono or Wine can get it to run – I don’t expect it to be much trouble.

  2. Ricc says:

    Also, a lot of (Computer Science) students get Microsoft products for free, which is good.

    (edit: meant as a reply above :/ )

  3. phlebas says:

    Amnesia meets Rooms? Sounds worth a try.

  4. noom says:

    “… bring back memories of Amnesia.”

    It is impossible to remember that game unironically.

  5. stele says:

    How many clicks does it take to get to the center of the download? 7. 7 clicks!

  6. Viroso says:

    I’m okay with boo moments I don’t know why people feel like they’re such a sin. Actually I know, people say they’re cheap, but I don’t know why have, uh principles? when it comes to this. Are you not playing it to get scared, I mean, if you got scared you got scared. It isn’t like using boo moments automatically ruins everything else. Amnesia had boo moments.

    • AaronLee says:

      It’s mostly an issue because a lot of games are just BOO moments (Seven Days, Jeff the killer etc.) Ideally games have a good mindf*** in there too. Jump scares, when well done, are good. But usually they’re jsut bog standard, dime a dozen.

    • The Random One says:

      A booooo moment doesn’t scare. It startles.

  7. Wedge says:

    When the bronze stalking mannequin leaves bloody messages telling me to leave, that is what I do. You don’t ignore it and walk in to the next room with it sitting there staring at you, why would you do that? This is why I can’t play scary games.

  8. njolnin says:

    This was simply outstanding, easily besting almost all of the Amnesia imitation games that I’ve seen for its short time (not that they are at all bad). The color and lighting drew me in, and the game knows how to slowly build its tension and use its mechanics to create some great scares. Let’s just say I won’t look at department store mannequins the same way. There are a few setpieces which are thrilling but wisely not at all frustrating. Scattered documents tell a creepy story very much in the vein of Amnesia, giving you just enough to know what has happened.

    I was surprised at how many people worked on this. Their hard work really paid off-it’s one heck of a resume.

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