Come relive your old MMO nostalgia in that early aughts MMO you definitely remember—HitFlesh! What, you never played HitFlesh? Ah, well lucky you that fans have propped up a classic game server that's totally free to play on. That's the setup, at least, for this story-driven adventure game about spelunking through a classic MMO by the same name. Something's gone spooky in these fan servers though. You can catch the new trailer for HitFlesh down here while you wait for its upcoming free demo.
HitFlesh is "a single-player narrative game about a weird and old MMORPG which was put back online," say developers Virtual Archaeologist. "Explore and discover the uncanny legend that this game has inside."
It certainly smells of MMO nostalgia down here in the first half of its trailer—that vaguely fantasy soundtrack tune and font. Characters standing around with neon names all wearing the same blue starter tunic. Even if you never played old RuneScape, this is probably what it looks like in your mind.
Things appear to get a bit spooky after that though. Player characters appear sealed in Matrix-like walls of pods. There are bugs and guts and giant eyeballs and I have no idea what it all means. There looks to be some kind of dark ritual going on led by some powerful glitched-out character
Beyond all that, HitFlesh has some MMO horrors of the less supernatural kind. They say that it's "a history about violent broken masculinities in online communities", including a content warning for mentions of harassment, bullying, and sexual violence. One of their recent screenshots paints a pretty familiar picture in the fictional game's global chat box. It seems that HitFlesh's haunted present may be tied up in some of its less savory past.
That's not for nothing, or for shock-value, I don't get the impression. "We believe videogames and other forms of fiction are necessary to explore cultural and political imaginaries and can participate in the dismantling of naturalized toxic behaviors and structures," the developers say. I'm genuinely interested in how and what they have to say about the online spaces I remember from my teen years.
You can find HitFlesh over on Itch, where the developers say there will be a demo coming soon.
HitFlesh was one of many excellent, interesting-looking games shown off during the indie horror game EEK3 showcase last Friday. By the by, I also thought that co-op horror game Eronoctosis (which has launched today) looks pretty swell.