Moons of Madness [official site] wants to be a lot of things: a Lovecraftian horror game set on Mars, a mature exploration of mental health issues and a hard sci-fi space simulator. Gulp. Its trailer certainly looks scary to me, although I’m the kind of person that can only play horror games in 15 minute bursts (I’ve been on Alien: Isolation for the last two months and still haven’t finished).
You’re astronaut Shane Newart, who is battling hallucinations to try and solve the supernatural goings-on on research station Trailblazer Alpha. From the looks of it, the gameplay will be a mixture of environmental puzzles (some of which will be very “technical”, apparently) and exploration/spooky segments.
It’s due out early next year, by the end of March. Here’s the trailer:
Most of the focus on mental health will happen through hallucinations that combine Shane’s memories with events that will happen in the future. Here’s developer Rock Pocket Games (of Olive and Spike):
“These events bend the player’s perception of reality by making them question what was a hallucination and what was real. Players can explore Shane’s subconscious and discover background details of the characters and game world. These events serve both as foreshadowing and to display the condition of Shane’s faltering mental state.”
The developers say they want to make a “scary game that does not antagonise any mental illness sufferers”, and the team have written a blog post about how they’ll do that (they’re particularly keen to avoid video game tropes).
The thing that most caught my eye about the trailer is, oddly enough, the HUD. I love minimal HUDs, and Moons of Madness has a belter: all the information you need is projected onto the bottom of your helmet. If you’re standing straight looking dead ahead you can’t see it, so you have to look down slightly to view your oxygen levels, inventory slots and space suit pressure. Now, I’ve no idea if you stay in that helmet for the duration of the game, but it’s a promising start.