Blink And You’ll Miss It: Late Night Shop

Doctor Who’s Weeping Angels could have been designed with first-person horror gaming in mind. They’re the murderous bad-things that only move when you’re not looking at them, which not only creates nerve-shredding tension but allows for playful map design around line of sight and enemy placement. Late Night Shop [official site] scraps the angelic form and goes straight to clothing store mannequins. There’s a pre-alpha build available now, with optional VR support. The SCP-y enforced blinking is an excellent touch.

Pleasingly, developers Total Monkery understand that the concept isn’t just about jumpscares. The mannequins move slightly more slowly than the player character, so even if you turn your back on them and flee, you’ll be able to make your way through an area as long as you know which way to turn. Throw in some reality-shifting weirdness and planning your route ahead of time becomes slightly trickier, however, so you’ll probably want to resort to a sneaky approach, eyes fully peeled.

Rather than a one-tone shocker, Late Night Shop could become a first-person horror stealth-puzzler. That’s if development continues and that seems likely:

“Frederic [one of the creators] started the design for LNS as a very short, punchy game. Since then, we’ve discussed everything from that to a AAA masterpiece (anyone got a couple million?) and we’ve got some pretty solid ideas for scaling this and not making the mechanic too boring (or exhausting!). Also worth mentioning: LNS is going to get WEIRD. Think Primark as rendered by Dali. We’ve left a lot of the trippiest stuff out of the demo, but it is GOOD, especially in VR. We’re having fun trying to balance spatial weirdness with not being sick.

“But release date, and scope, is dependent upon funding. We’re looking at options at the moment – we’ll know where we are within a month.”

With this game being set in an alternate universe Primark and yesterday’s Allison Road being set in a quiet Manchester suburb, I fear that all possible horror scenarios are converging on my head. Primark is where I buy my socks.


  1. Kefren says:

    The mechanic of blinking ruined SCP for me. Why not just close one eye at a time? I tried it, walking round the house, and it worked fine. I didn’t trip up, get dry eyes, or get squished. It’s as if you’re forced to play someone who can’t think logically.

    • ribby says:

      Does that really work for you? I tried it just now and it made me blink way more after a little bit.

      Also one of my sisters can only really squint with one eye

      • Kefren says:

        Ideally I’d find a saline solution powerup. Which is probably why I’m not allowed to design games (or use sharp implements).

    • Zuolin says:

      We actually had the suggestion to add individual eyelid control and are strongly considering it. It makes sense and shouldn’t be too difficult to implement. Also our game never forces you to blink, it’s just there as a gameplay tool. You can use it to lure enemies towards you so you can run past, or to check whether a mannequin is animated etc.

      • Kefren says:

        Ah, if it isn’t forced then it can be quite a good tool – since in real life you’d be able to close your eyes on purpose, for the reason you suggest. I think in SCP there was a meter running down all the time to the next blink. It made me feel like I was a Sim.

        • Zuolin says:

          We toyed with the idea of a forced auto-blink but I really don’t like it. If you died at the end of a 10 minute gameplay section because of an auto blink I think it’d feel cheep. We’re trying to make the whole gameplay experience as organic as possible and make every death be the player’s fault to a certain extent.

          We’re also thinking about ideas to do with rendering certain effects only when the player’s eyes are closed. Think there’s a lot of potential for shenanigans :)

    • Legion23 says:

      I do see your point but consider that doing anything gets so much harder in a life threatening situation.

      • Kefren says:

        True. It’s like when people complain that their game character “runs like an old man”. I sometimes run up a steep hill near my house for exercise, and am pretty fit (cycled over a number of Welsh hills/mountains this week), but I am knackered once I start running up a hill, and if I had three guns and 400 rounds of ammunition and armour on then I’d be running and panting like a game character too. It’s funny that people criticise it but if they were in the game then they’d probably run worse than the game character, and it can often still be more lenient than realistic. If I made a game where a PC gameplaying nerd (or Gordon Freeman) were thrown into a full-on cascade scenario then I’d have them hobbling around by the time they picked up their fifth gun and climbed their hundredth ladder (without hydrating properly).

        • Harlander says:

          I always thought Arma 3’s “pained gasping for each hard-earned breath” was a pretty accurate reflection on me doing the amount of running in that game, though I thought a trained soldier might have a bit better endurance.

          That being said, you can run forever even while your breath sounds like you’re about to vomit, so I guess it evens out.

        • Zekiel says:

          It’s a good point. However I don’t think there’s any excuse for Adam Jensen’s cyber-legs (in DX: Human Revolution) being able to sprint for about 4 seconds before getting tired :-)

        • Zuolin says:

          Running speed in games is a weird thing. For standard displays, you have to make people run ridiculously fast (compared with real life) for it to feel “right”. However, when you’re making a game for VR, if the speed is even slightly wrong then it feels horrible. We had to be super careful with this in VR version of Late Night Shop. The VR and non-VR versions actually have very different running speeds. Nobody seems to have complained about this so far!