Spooky co-op stealth 'em up The Blackout Club leaves early access on July 30th, after a short but busy run of updates. For those fashionably late (or just on time, really) to the party, it's a four-player (or five, with invasions) immersive sim about a band of teens investigating a very haunted town. Here, sleeping townsfolk rise with eyes still closed, don masks and perform strange rituals in the streets and the tunnels below the town. It's developed by Question (The Magic Circle) with a team including talent from Thief, Bioshock 2 and Eldritch - these folks know their sneaking.
The Blackout Club is mostly non-violent. These are kids trying to deal with the townsfolk, and can be overpowered by adults. You can knock out foes with a stun gun or tranquilliser darts, but mostly you'll just want to evade. Players are also being stalked The Shape, an invisible monster which can only be seen when you press a button to close your eyes and tap into the town's spooky powers. Players can even get involved in rituals themselves, making sacrifices to and aligning themselves with one of a pantheon of 'voices' that whisper to the kids as they sleep between missions.
The Blackout Club has grown a lot over the course of early access. Probably the biggest single addition was an invasion PvP mode, casting one more player as a renegade teen working for the bad guys. Rather than attacking, the invader has to hide and record footage of the players, which lures other enemies closer to the group. The troublemaker can be tackled and tied up if they're caught, too, making it an even more stealthy game within a stealth game.
Other notable additions include expanded hideout customisation, where you get to trade snacks for goodies as kids do. There's a swarm of new mission types too. Missions were already procedurally generated, but now there's a lot more things to do around town. The maze of tunnels under the town has also been expanded, with strange new chambers that serve some purpose in the sleeper's rituals. Some of these areas aren't accessible until you've got a good few missions under your belt, and I'm curious to see if there's a grand finale planned for the launch version.
I've had The Blackout Club sitting around in my Steam account for a while now, but never had the opportunity to assemble a group and hit the spooky streets. Perhaps now's the time - get a little experience under my belt to impress the newbies come launch day. Opinions on how spooky the game is are all over the place. I've seen some folks say it's terrifying, while Matt Cox and pals got swept up in giggling grappling hook antics. I'd hazard a guess that how scary it is depends largely on your group's predilection for horror movies, and ability to enjoy them without overmuch sass.
The Blackout Club leaves early access on July 30th, but if you're feeling daring, you can pick it up cheap in the Steam Summer Sale. It's currently £12.39/€13.43/$15.99.