While some would dismiss the concept of the ‘walking simulator’ as a modern development and a sign of the medium losing its edge, the roots of the genre go almost as far back as 3D environments themselves. One of the most memorable of the old trailblazers was LSD: Dream Emulator for the original PlayStation. Years before its time, it used procedural generation to construct strange, unique and occasionally unsettling little worlds to explore.
The currently-crowdfunding horror exploration game Bvoid is more than a little heavily inspired by LSD (no snickering over there in the back), and is the latest project from Toni Kortelahti, better known for his work under the 98Demake banner; deconstructions of modern games, reimagining them as they would have been in the early 32-bit console era.
Bvoid definitely has a harder edge to it than LSD, which tended to fill its worlds with mundanity, making the truly otherworldly stuff stick out that more more vividly. Bvoid, then, starts at the deep end and plunges into the depths from there, creating warped worlds full of flickering images, disquieting sounds, staring eyes (SO MANY STARING EYES) and a palpable sense of menace. Not bad considering that it’s built as closely to real PlayStation hardware limits as possible.
While random elements are definitely part of Bvoid’s bag of tricks, it promises to be a more coherent experience, with a distinct narrative conveyed through FMV clips, hopefully without losing too much of the dream-like atmosphere. Environments are hand-crafted, although designed as if to look like they were assembled by a strange machine intelligence. While some aspects remain random, at the end of the day there’s a man lurking behind the curtain.
As for 98Demake’s other work, most recently he’s gone and produced a low-fi reprise of Konami’s now-increasingly-emphemeral PT, the interactive teaser for the Silent Hill successor that would never be. Beyond that, his Youtube channel is always worth a look, with the recent PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds demake video truly capturing the spirit of 1998 videogames advertising, right down to the lousy aiming and awkward character movement.
Bvoid is seeking funding via Indiegogo, and is already over halfway to its meagre target of $6,900 with over a month to go.