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Blessed Burden offers first-person horror for the Quake crowd - here's a demo

I do love a good deathtrap

A greenish-black stone corridor with a stairway leading down and strange slanting structures above in first-person horror game Blessed Burden
Image credit: Podoba Interactive

WASD to move, mouse cursor to look, space to jump, C to crouch and slide. There, now you know everything you need to play the demo for Blessed Burden, a new first-person "horror adventure" from Podoba Interactive, in which you are "the last surviving priest in a religious apocalypse". I don't know many people in the clergy, but I'm pretty sure the job isn't supposed to involve quite this many swinging blade traps. Here's a trailer.

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In the developer's previous Museum of Monoliths, released in February, you'd stroll around nasty, abstract places and rearrange monoliths to alter the soundscape. Blessed Burden brings back the ominous, otherworldly architecture and fills it with spikes, crushing boulders and pitfalls, for an experience that is sort of Quake or Hexen without the shooting. I enjoyed the demo - available on Steam and Itch - which has just been expanded with a new level and key-door mechanic.

Podoba are a Ukrainian developer, as are publisher Marevo Collective, and it's perhaps too tempting to read the game's oppressive atmosphere as a commentary on Russia's on-going invasion of Ukraine. Be warned that it contains some pretty unsettling material: in the demo, there is a fleeting depiction of suicide.

While I'd say Blessed Burden has a ways to go before it can outrun the likes of Lorn's Lure or Babddi, there's a lot to like. One of the early chambers has a floor that looks like it's just patterned with red cracks from afar but actually has some big lava-filled gaps, catching you out if you hurry. This might sound irritating, but it speaks to a certain fiendishness of design I'm thoroughly in favour of. I dig the audio, too, be it the heavy swoosh of a blade narrowly missing your ear, or the gentle hum of a hidden collectible you're almost certainly going to die trying to find. Just as well there are plenty of checkpoints.

Podoba's other game-in-progress, the "meditative exploration" sim Back to Hearth, can be read as a different kind of war commentary, exchanging despair for a measure of hope. It sees you rebuilding a devastated village, house by house, so as to entice the residents into returning home. "Fire is a symbol of home comfort, warmth, and life," reads the blurb. "After the house is repaired and put in order, you need to kindle a fire. After that, you just have to wait a little while."

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