Explore The Deadly Dreamlike Labyrinth Of Parasomnia

You would need a lot of chrome polish for this maze

Searching for something unsettling rather than terrifying for the Hallowe’en period, I happened upon Parasomnia by Acatalept. It’s perhaps best described as a futuristic chrome version of the Theseus and the Minotaur legend.

Except you’re not Theseus. Theseus hacked the game by bringing in a ball of string, killing the Minotaur and escaping. You’re (currently) one of the preceding generations of Athenian youth sent in as sustenance for the monstrous Asterion and doomed to die.

The game is unfinished at the moment, serving more as an anxiety taster experience. The developer flavour text tells you, “In the hypnogogic twilight between sleep and waking, something haunts you / hunts you in this maze…”

You’re deposited in the depths of an improbable maze; all chrome surfaces and occasional weird floating sculptures. Pulses of light briefly illuminate your surroundings hindering your navigation as much as they help you. The light pulses change, speeding up to match a beat which you realise is pursuing you through the maze and quickening as whatever it is gets closer to you.

Maybe don't stop to contemplate the art

It’s a simple idea but one which contains a well-executed anxious and uncomfortable experience. I played a couple of times and in one I think I saw the monster itself which did spoil the effect, though.

As I said, it’s not a finished game at the moment, more a proof of concept knocked together as part of October’s Unreal Engine Game Jam. The list of features to-be-added involves some basic sound and performance improvements as well as some interesting maze generations ideas. One is a Cube-like setup where parts of the labyrinth would move around, a second is having procedurally generated labyrinths and another is never being able to turn back…

5 Comments

  1. AndreasBM says:

    Can’t seem to get it running on Win8.

  2. Kodaemon says:

    I love the trend of these undefined, semi-interactive, glitchy dreamscapes. Whether one considers them games or not, there doesn’t need to be a goal in them for me to immensly enjoy them. Just exploration, interpretation and meditation.

    I’m just starting to play around un UDK myself, and this is the sort of thing I’d like to create: a personal, yet inscrutable megastructure. The problem is, how can I breathe the atmosphere of uncertainty and mystery into it, when I’m in full control of the design and experience? I guess I’d need to get myself into a sort of trance-like state first. I’m not one to do drugs, but perhaps sleep deprivation would work? Work while I’m tired enough that I don’t remember the thought behind it the day after… Could be an interesting experience.

  3. AXAXAXAS MLO II: MLO HARDER says:

    You had me at hypnogogic.

  4. Shadowcat says:

    Except you’re not Theseus.

    Whereupon I immediately imagined a game in which you play the Minotaur, facing an increasing horde of Theseus-like string-bearers, and your only chance is to lead them astray through the maze in such a way that they tie one another up, so that you can restrict them to one-on-one combat.

  5. Talesdreamer says:

    Sounds like a videogame version of House of Leaves.