Wake Into Dreams: Grave’s Surrealist Horror

By Adam Smith on April 16th, 2014 at 4:00 pm.

I’ve watched three videos of Grave. The first convinced me that the psychological horror game was precisely my cup of tea, with its shifting scenery and creepy sculptures. That’s the first video I’ve placed below and if you’re anything like me, you’ll probably see some promise in the potential trickery of the narrative voice. I’m reminded of Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, one of the great relatively unsung horror games. All three videos are below.

First up, here are the videos. Number one is described above, video number two is the Kickstarter pitch and it explains the workings of the game a little more. The final video is a GDC trailer, which gives the clearest impression of how the game might play in between the atmospheric narrative portions. It looks like a first-person Alan Wake, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but there’s more to Grave than that.

If I hadn’t seen the top one first, I would have assumed Grave had fallen from the same mould as 7 Days To Die and the like but I guess I would have been wrong. Stranger things have happened. Here’s what the Kickstarter page has to say about what the game actually involves:

Reinventing survival horror – The player can take action when frightening moments occur, but has to use strategy to find the right tool for the right job. This isn’t just about stockpiling or storing inventory items.

Light fights the darkness – Instead of guns or knives, your weapons are entirely light-based. Many of the creatures in Grave react to light, each in unique ways. Whether tossing a flashbang or igniting a puddle of gasoline, Grave presents many options for dealing with encounters.

Ever-changing world inspired by surrealist art – Not just a visual, the world changes and rearranges itself during play. Each passing night offers a change to the experience.

Full story progression – Not just a rogue-like or survival experience, Grave features a full story with multiple acts, strange characters and many unique elements taking advantage of the surreal setting

Colour me intrigued, which is a sort of turquoise with electric blue highlights. The Kickstarter has just under two weeks left to run and $19,000 to raise. The team have decent credentials and a detailed breakdown of their expected costs and expenditure should the Kickstarter succeed. The section on creature designs is also well worth a read, tapping into all manner of unpleasantness.

Oh, and there’s a demo!

, , , .

13 Comments »

  1. GameCat says:

    Grave seems to be somewhat fresh breeze in the stale old dusty air of Tomb of Horror.

    I’m reminded of Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, one of the great relatively unsung horror games.
    The Greatest.

  2. Philomelle says:

    What will always sadden me about Shattered Memories is that it would have been very sung if not for the misguided marketing campaign. The game itself feels like a grand finale to the original Silent Hill trilogy, an attempt to provide both the players and the trilogy’s heroine with emotional closure by bringing us full circle. Instead the game was consistently advertised as a gimmicky remake of original Silent Hill despite having a completely different emotional tone.

    It’s a real shame. I wish it would be possible to get people to play Shattered Memories without looking them in a room with a console, a copy of the game and three days’ worth of food.

    As for Grave, I reacted to their Kickstarter with cautious interest back when it popped up. Unfortunately, the pitch doesn’t say a single word about the game’s story and instead quickly devolves into advertising itself as yet another “run away from badly animated zombies while trying to outshriek PewDiePie” deal. Hell, they even have a video by him in the reception section.

  3. stele says:

    Looks like Alan a fun. Can’t Wake to try it!

    • Darth Gangrel says:

      But can it hold a candle/flashlight to that game or are we in for a rude A.Wake-ning.

      • Orageon says:

        I really dig this idea. Best played at night with a overdose of coffee-n.

  4. Nate says:

    The narration in that first video is perfect. That’s just a technique for the trailer, right?

    Would love to play a horror game narrated, Bastion-style, like that.

  5. InternetBatman says:

    I saw this pitch earlier, but now that I hear it again, it seems inspired by what Alan Wake was supposed to be, not what it became.

  6. Darth Gangrel says:

    I prefer survival horror when you can actually fight back or even just stall your enemies, so that you can escape if you happen to encounter them. A feeling that a bit of resourcefulness can actually get you somewhere and that it’s not all just “if that thing spots me I’m dead”-kind of survival horror. Clive Barker’s Undying is the one game I judge all other survival horror games by, unless that game isn’t actually survival horror but more of a horror themed FPS. If so, then simply replace survival horror with horror themed FPS in my first sentence. Either way, I like this games approach to survival horror, something that doesn’t imitate Amnesia.

  7. CookPassBabtridge says:

    Looks interesting, but triggers a pet peeve of mine: The voice over sounds like they are going for the annoying psychotherapists are the enemy / useless / evil trope, in what sounds like a really impatient moron doing PTSD imagery therapy.

    Will be interesting how the procedural part plays out.

  8. Shooop says:

    Ah, I remember seeing this on Greenlight. The “stranger” monster caught my eye because of how much it looked like a claymation figure.

    Sounds interesting, but I’ve learned my lesson about Kickstarter.

  9. HiFiHair says:

    I posted a comment to this effect on Eurogamer, so I apologise for the duplication if you’re reading this twice. But I’d be interested to know what others think.

    https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2129301589/grave-open-world-survival-horror

    The funding goal for the project is $30,000.

    $30,000 is roughly £18,000 in Royal British Queens Money. They say only 64% is going on living expenses. So £11,500. Divide that by 5 employees that’s £2,300 each. That’s not a heap of money if any of them have to pay rent or bills or feed themselves or anything like that. How long do they expect this project to run for?

    I commend them for factoring Amazon fees and other business expenses into the cost breakdown. But their minimum funding goal just doesn’t seem credible for anything more than a few months development.

    All that said there could be special circumstances. Perhaps they have other funding coming in. Or they’re all living with their parents. Or something. But it’s a concern that right now hubris seems to be trumping pragmatism.

  10. beema says:

    After all the piles of crap that have been churning out of kickstarter/greenlight lately, I come to this very skeptically. So far it doesn’t look like much more than your standard indie horror game tropes. Hopefully it’s something fresh and new and well-made, but this recent crop of indie madness that has been going on, it’s hard to become too invested in anything.