Prop Hunt With Murderclowns: SoulHunt’s Public Alpha

I can see you! Maybe. Are you a potted aloe vera? That seems like the sort of thing you'd be.

Beyond the age where one can hide inside a cardboard box or under a sofa, hide-and-seek becomes a dangerous game. Rounds are won by people willing to risk terrible damage to property, perhaps climbing up onto the kitchen cabinets, or to their life, hiding inside an airtight fridge.

Video game hide-and-seek is dangerous in the other way: if they find you, you will die. Often one’s hiding in plain sight, pretending to be an NPC or an inanimate object. SoulHunt [official site] is the second sort. One player’s a murderous clown, and the rest are spirits who hide by possessing cups, magazines, brooms, frying pans etc., as you can see for yourself in a free alpha out now.

Inspired by the ‘Prop Hunt’ modes and mods you may have seen in games like Garry’s Mod and TF2, SoulHunt lets players hide inside the props that clutter levels. As cups, flasks, pans, chairs, fire extinguishers, and so much more, they’re trying to hide from the clown, who can track them by hearing their hearbeats. Hiders can move around to find good spots, or flee when their cover is blown, but I suspect a broom is no match for a murderclown. If the clown gits ya, murder.

Developers Wintercell Studios say on its Greenlight page that SoulHunt being standalone rather than a mod gives them “more freedom to take this gameplay to a next level”, and that they’re planning new maps, modes, hunters, and whatnot.

I think my favourite hide-and-seek game is still 1998’s CrateDM mod for Quake 2. As its creator explains, “CrateDM pits opponents against each other in a room full of crates, and the players are crates.” Possibly my favourite readme file, that one.

10 Comments

  1. Loyal_Viggo says:

    The prop of choice to inhabit: always go for the Garfield phone.

    It’s majesty and all-consuming novelty will surely keep you safe…

    For reference please see Richard Harrison in Ninja Terminator use his Garfield phone, and weep in awe.

  2. misterT0AST says:

    They could AT LEAST have changed the setting.

    So freaking scared of innovation.

    I hope there will be medieval maps, or space maps, or ancient egyptian maps too.
    AN OFFICE WITH OFFICE PROPS AGAIN?!?

    They could have given it a fantasy vibe with swords and armors, a hellish vibe with torture devices and lava pits and possession, a horros vibe with skulls, candles and bats, an explaination for the powers like a Poltergeist and ghost busters hunting, or having living animated animals be used as props, or alien mind control/telekinesis and Men in Black sent to defeat the dopplegangers, ANYTHING.

    But no, we are in a generic Garry’s mod office with a clowny clown chasing PLACEHOLDERS (Kleiner in GM, a generic ball in this) for the same exact reason (that is to say none, no purpose at all).

    What a missed opportunity, they could have given their game some character and they went the “no let’s just use the very same aesthetics” approach.

    Maybe they want people to scream “ripoff”, it’s a business strategy I never understood, but seems to be pretty popular. Not even TRYING to at look different and have a personality.
    I hope they enjoy the mass of insults they will be getting.

    • Dilapinated says:

      “the mass of insults they’ll be getting” Mostly from you, it seems.

      Alpha doesn’t mean “a tonne of different maps and assets, layed out and completed for your perusal”. Alpha means Alpha. Only time will tell if this level is indicative of the eventual, overall aesthetic.

      • Pantalaimon says:

        Wouldn’t call those insults. I think those are legitimate criticisms – or concerns, since as you point out, it’s alpha and it’s freely available for testing. If the gameplay is strong enough right now, nobody will care that it’s an office and a clown, but if it isn’t, people will focus on those things, and that’s appropriate. Offices are the most generic location possible in this era, clowns are cheesy beyond belief and a not remotely scary player avatar. The combination of the two is bizarre and questionable.

        If they keep those two elements in their release game I will never play it, no matter how thrilling the gameplay is meant to be. Why spoil myself on their incarnation of this game when someone could do it better with some original style, and I would have much more fun? Hopefully, they use their development period to put some original aesthetics into the game.

        Style concerns aside, I’m not sure I’m thrilled by the mechanics, anyway. Part of TF Prophunt’s appeal is that it allows creativity on the part of the players to arrange themselves in a way to avoid detection. They can even work together to create ‘stacks’ or scenes involving multiple player props. Done right, you can fool even the most dedicated opposing players. It’s a huge part of the game. Removing this ability is already a step back. The most interesting potential actually lies in the level generation – generate random levels for a lobby of players per playthrough, gradually add props, allow players to vote to add or remove default props, etc etc. Let’s see a developer implement these type of things.

    • cothientai says:

      You are right about certain points. The thing is, this started out as a student project so we knew we had short time span to make this. That’s why a hospital map was a perfect idea at the time as the level could made be very straight forward, added to the “creepy vibe” and was also indoors (we had Oculus support in the very early stages). We only have one artist who does all the 3D modeling and one programmer (me) who does the game logic so we did cut some corners where we could.

      About the aesthetic, being junior developers, time and experience are a factor.
      Experience is one of the things we acquired making this alpha, but time will never wait.
      We are finding our way to get a cohesive art style in place. As you mentioned about the setting of the maps, it gives me a feeling you have been looking at our artist’s livestream! ;) He is working on a graveyard map.

  3. Eiv says:

    Was an enjoyable game. Ambient sound needs fixed but the game itself has solid mechanics. The devs are super nice too which is always good and had a few rounds with us.

    Looking forward to seeing how this one develops.

  4. klops says:

    “Exclusive alpha bugs” is a good line.

  5. MrUnimport says:

    A little bit confused as to why I might be interested in paying money for exactly the same thing I’ve played before for free.

    • Malarious says:

      Developers Wintercell Studios say on its Greenlight page that SoulHunt being standalone rather than a mod gives them “more freedom to take this gameplay to a next level”, and that they’re planning new maps, modes, hunters, and whatnot.

      Besides that, it’s free right now anyway.