Memories Of A Fisherman Is Open-World Horror

By Nathan Grayson on October 1st, 2013 at 8:00 am.

Horror - good horror – is really, really hard. It’s the setup equivalent of juggling countless chainsaws (or chainsaw rooms, as it were) while cradling an equal number of squalling infants. Everything must be perfectly orchestrated, or else the end result will most certainly not be pretty. That, then, is why most horror games are largely linear – elaborate haunted houses that ooze creeping dread and digitized plasma, so long as they stay on rails. But what happens if there are no rails to begin with? That’s the question Memories of a Fisherman is asking, and I’m quite interested in discovering the answer. The open-world horror tale is littered with flecks of Amnesia, Skyrim, and Dear Esther, and – though it’s still quite early – I like the sound of where it’s headed.

As with all except the most nihilistic of games, Memories of a Fisherman is about things. Specifically, these ones:

“You are simple fisherman, not a hero, not even a warrior, just a plain and simple fisherman. After returning from a long fishing trip, the island surprises you with a deadly silence, no one seems to be around. In fact everyone is missing, your family, friends, even the animals seem to be gone. You find a dead body, it’s Billy the farmer, he seems to have written a letter before dying. He describes a thing… a horror he went through before his final moments. It’s your duty as a father to find your family, you decide to explore the island in the search for an answer.”

Because as we know, all farmers are named Billy. Also, calling it now: the monster is actually Old Man Jenkins in a costume. Also, Old Man Jenkins is a 40,000-year-old primeval force who lustily makes love to all suffering, moaning pleasure in tone with our pain.

If my reading of the plot somehow turns out to not be true, Memories of a Fisherman’s world is yours to explore. You get to pick which trails to follow, which mysteries you attempt to dissect – all those sorts of things. There will also be survival mechanics and side stories to uncover, so you definitely won’t be at a lack for things to do.

So then, what about the, you know, horror in this horror game? Well, all developer Indie Brotherhood is divulging at this point is that you’ll be stalked by some nefarious force. “The threat lurking in the shadows is smart and evil, he even seems to be playing around with your mind. In order to defeat him and find your family you will need to put attention to the smallest details.” Hopefully he won’t overplay his hand and become predictable/annoying. At this point, though, it’s tough to say.

Memories of a Fisherman is on Indiegogo and Steam Greenlight right now. The concept is certainly interesting, but I’m not entirely sold on what I’ve seen so far. How about you?

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25 Comments »

  1. TheIronSky says:

    Reminds me of that Crysis mod I saw a couple of years back… What was that called? Worry of Newport or something. Looks promising, I’ll bite. Obviously not as good looking or atmospheric as a Crysis horror mod, but solid nonetheless. And with a trailer like this, well, you could say they’ve reeled me in – hook, line, and sinker.

    Could we use an open-world horror title? You boat-er believe it. I can hardly anchors aweigh-t its arrival. Who says the horror genre is full of ship? Not even going to wait for a discount – day one sail. I’m going to have a hull of a good time.

  2. Spacewalk says:

    I hope at some point you get a fisherman’s friend.

  3. Jalan says:

    Has the framework of something interesting, even if it is reminding me of Miasmata, without the linear trappings that game fell into (and the whole “Okay potential buyers, we’ll play our hand early and show you what you’re going to fear” bit, of course). Sadly a lot less pretty than Miasmata is as well, though I can only assume that the look of the game is in a state of progress since they’ve got an Indiegogo campaign running for it currently.

    • Hauskamies says:

      I don’t think Miasmata was ever supposed to be scary. And I feel that the linear aspects of Miasmata is what made it good because the game had direction. Open exploration without direction will just become a wild-goose chase of running around the place pointlessly in hopes of finding some secrets. It destroy’s the pacing.

      • jrodman says:

        Possibly there are ways of forcing pacing without forcing linearity? I’m doubtful but I’m interested to see someone try.

      • Stuart Walton says:

        On my playthrough of Miasmata I got lost on my 2nd or 3rd night. Scrabbling through a swamp with only a fading torch for light. Amazingly I survived the night and found a coastline, the edge of a narrow bay with a hut on the other side.

        This was actually an important location that I would not have reached until much later had I followed the clues, but it did not break the game and it did not break the narrative at all for me to be there and to use the information gathered within that hut. I was able to make may way back to where I came off the path and find all the things I had ‘skipped’.

        I believe that an open world mystery game can manage pacing but it’s very difficult to achieve if the world fails to react to how the player progresses. Miasmata gets away with simply being just vague enough so that up until the very end you can’t be sure of the whole story, but if you missed a lot of clues along the way then it’s not as powerful. You need to set up some dynamic systems that change the world depending on what the player has learned and how quickly they learn. Much like Left 4 Dead has an AI Director, your adventure can have a pacing director. Opening and closing the multiple criss-crossing clue trails, injecting NPC encounters, and stressing and relieving the stresses in any gameplay mechanics.

        The best mysteries maintain 2 or more competing narratives. Managing this dissonance is a great way of tasking and rewarding the player. The greater the conflict, the greater the drive to resolve it. Solve the differences and the player is rewarded with a ‘truth’ the release of this stress is a bigger payoff than any in-game item or cutscene. If your Narrative Director can juggle all these things, then yes, you can have an open world mystery with good pacing.

      • Jalan says:

        I didn’t say it was supposed to be scary, which in or out of context would imply that it was a horror game and it wasn’t. It was a survival game with a monster in it and if the developers had opted not to spoil the existence of the monster to such a degree then it would have kept some element of mystery to it when potential players begin to assume that the biggest threat to their continued survival is that they’re a special kind of human who needs no food (in a setting flush with various food sources) but drinks plenty of water and hates even the smallest of slopes.

        I also said nothing of the linearity in Miasmata being a bad thing, just that it is indeed linear and Memories of a Fisherman seems the opposite but upon a re-viewing of the video for the latter it seems harder to tell if the aspect of non-linearity is just being clouded by a bunch of side questing meant to artificially distract the player from actually advancing the story. Side questing, to me, has never been representative of non-linear gameplay. It’s like the tourist spots on a road trip from point A to B – you can stop and waste some time, but you’re still eventually going to end up at point B.

  4. Avish says:

    I counted five horror tropes in that picture.
    Can someone beat that?

    But seriously. I’d like to see someone creating a horror game that’s not taking place in a 19th century environment on a cloudy day.

  5. bills6693 says:

    Even that trailer made me jump a little. I am not one to be interested in horror games, but this one actually looks good. I feel the open-world direction is better than most horror games which seem to be focused on a one-way haunted building and one or two main gimmicks.

    I actually feel even with poor graphics (who even cares??) that the open world nature of it will draw you in a lot more, and thus, make it much easier to be frightened when something does happen.

  6. kobadow says:

    What was that Amiga game consisting of lots of islands and you could pretty much do what you liked? There was a plot of sorts, but it was the first openworld FPS type thing that I remember.

  7. Yah-Nkha says:

    All I need is decent font choice and I’m ready to throw some money at them. The overall atmosphere is immersive but then you have a letter written in gothic by a dying man. Yeah!

  8. Gilead says:

    Am I the only person who keeps misreading the title as Memories of a Fishman?

    Because I would play that game.

  9. Tiax says:

    Isn’t Miasmata considered to be open-world horror ? I actually found to be quite good.

  10. TheBlackBandit says:

    I love the concept, and the game itself sounds interesting, but the writing seems SO heavy-handed.

    “You are simple fisherman, not a hero, not even a warrior, just a plain and simple fisherman” feels so much like they’re ladling on the fact that their story doesn’t follow classic RPG conventions. (But it does follow many, many horror ones).

    “The island surprises you with a deadly silence”… A what?

  11. FacundoJose says:

    just try to play this alone..headsets on…lights off.. and you are all set ahaha..be sure to watch “Cute Animals” on youtube jus to get you back on track on life! ahahah…

    OT: BF4 is set to be released this month. so save up some extra cash guys and get a chance to buy battlefield 4 and check the latest deals on this game!

  12. Kein says:

    >mysterious force that stalking you

    Amnesia: A Machine for Fisherman

    Yet another Shadow we are going to run from. This time not scripted which most likely gonna suck or won’t be as near atmospheric.

  13. bongosabbath says:

    But can you go fishing? *cries over lack of open-world fishing games*

  14. hamburger_cheesedoodle says:

    Open world horror? Why not S.T.A.L.K.E.R.?

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