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.