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Forget Me Not: Lethe Is Physics Plus Horror

Lethe is Psi Ops meets Amnesia, as I have already established. A new dollop of alpha footage confirms my previous thinking, showing a first-person horror game in which the protagonist mostly runs away from monsters, but occasionally gestures toward them in the hope that they’ll fall down. He emit gusts, you see, which is apparently some type of superpower if your hands are involved, but is simply considered ‘bad form’ if orifices are the origin of the blast.

Along with the gusting, there’s a bit of hiding, a bit of barrel-bashing and a bit of running away.

I’m not sure that dark, splashy tunnels are the most exciting part of a game to show off, but I suppose the entirety of Lethe might take place in dark, splashy tunnels. Hopefully there’ll be some variety so that lead character Robert Dawn doesn’t nod off in a puddle. Perhaps some environments like the one in the screenshot at the top of this post would keep him engaged.

He’s having a bad enough day with all of the grumbling monster-meanies so it seems unfair to make him spend all of his time in what may or may not be a sewer level. Lead developer and superbly named individual John Koukourakis has taken to the official website to explain Bob Dawn’s reduced powers:

…originally, besides telekinesis, in Lethe you could master a bunch of different “magic powers” like fireballs, bolts etc. Later though we realized that we had given the player too much power. Most testers were approaching the game as a classic shooter. Getting rid of everything but telekinesis made things way more interesting. Testers would no longer stand and shoot whatever was moving, instead for the first time they were using stealth and the environment to survive. The downside of those changes was that we had to throw away 4 game levels. But you know how it is, “if you’re going to do something do it right or don’t do it at all”.

I appreciate the desire to make a game that’s almost entirely about physics but the video doesn’t quite convince. Everything that Mr Dawn does seems like something he could have done with his hands if he’d taken another couple of steps toward the object in question. I’m not suggesting he should be threading a needle six miles away, but I’d like to see him being a bit more adventurous. At the minute he seems like the kind of chap who might use his telekinetic powers to change channels on the telly instead of getting up to find the remote, or to turn the kettle on before he gets out of bed in the morning.

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Adam Smith

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