Albino Lullaby [official site] could be 2015's smartest horror game. In the trailer below, developers Ape Law set out their stall with three statements that I can't help but read as a reaction against popular notions as to what horror is, or can be.
No blood. No gore. No Jump Scares.
This is fear that skitters across the nerves, plucking away like a delirious harpist rather than chopping down hard with a chainsaw. I've played the backer demo - read John's thoughts about it - and found it utterly compelling. Deeply macabre, oddly funny and strikingly original.
My favourite thing about the demo was the tonal uncertainty. Rather than being pure terror, or adrenaline-pumping tension, Albino Lullaby is packed with odd little jokes alongside unnerving suggestions and grotesque realisations. The world is confusing - having elements of Victorian gothic and steampunk alongside its abattoir parlours - but there's a thread of internal logic running through.
I felt as if I was feeling around the edge of understanding and was almost certain that making sense of events would be devastating. I want to know how the story ends because it's fascinating, but there are horrors hiding between the lines.
There are stealth sections, although they're presented and played in an unusual fashion, but the demo is mostly about exploring. $9.99 gets you the first episode (of three) when it's released this spring, and instant access to the demo. There's a Season Bundle, with all three episodes for $24.99.