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Housebond Horror: Abstention

Single location, single enemy, single night

Abstention is a horror game but the trailer looks more like a video interpretation of a glossy real estate brochure. The attractive lake house that the camera pokes around is the game's setting - one exquisitely crafted location that changes as time passes. Or fails to pass. There's a twist, you see. A twist in time. The game doesn't just take place in a single location, it takes place in a single night that loops, resetting and forcing the player to live through the nightmare again, attempting to avoid the same mistakes, to solve the mysteries of the house and to survive.

I'm all for trudging through forty hours of procedurally generated corridors and dungeons, but I'm immediately attracted to games that focus on a single space. Abstention does randomise some elements of the house on each playthrough but it's the location of objects and specific features of rooms rather than the whole building. The appeal of that single space isn't specifically related to my affection for the same in theatre and film (gimme 12 Angry Men, The Caretaker and Endgame) - in a game it's the fine detail and familiarity that appeals rather than any absurd recognition of the medium's limits, or claustrophobia.

As well as the single location and time loop, Absention has a single intelligent enemy. You get a glimpse of it (I'm guessing) in the trailer and, yes, I think it looks a bit naff. Given the work that has gone into the environments, hopefully the creature is going to receive similar attention.

I'd have gone with Gone Home meets Groundwerehog Day but Dream Wave have their own list of inspirations:

Absention is inspired by some of my favorite horror video games and films like Silent Hill, Alien, Resident Evil, Eternal Darkness, and Kubrick's The Shining. I enjoy the challenge of overcoming fear while being mentally challenged and uncovering an interesting narrative.

First conceived in 2012 after I graduated college with a degree in Interactive Entertainment, Absention aims to capture true survival horror in the most immersive and mind-bending ways.

If I have to sum it all up, imagine the Spencer Mansion (Resident Evil) in First Person but with a single, intelligent enemy hunting you. I want to make that.

The game is currently pre-alpha. I'll be keeping an eye on it.

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About the Author

Adam Smith

Former Deputy Editor

Adam wrote for Rock Paper Shotgun between 2011-2018, rising through the ranks to become its Deputy Editor. He now works at Larian Studios on Baldur's Gate 3.