We got our hands on an advance build of Hysteria Project, the new first-person survival horror game from French developer Bulkypix–and it kind of scared the crap out of us! Mission accomplished, guys. We’ve got gameplay details and impressions within… go ahead and click, it won’t hurt a bit…
Hysteria Project is a kind of “Choose Your Own Adventure” game built entirely out of spliced bits of footage, taken in shaky Cinema Verite style with a hand-held camcorder. The shots are all from the hero’s perspective, complete with hallucinations, flashbacks, slow blinks, and blackouts (he’s badly wounded). This weirdness is combined with a seriously spooky soundtrack that involves lots of labored breathing, deep groans and grumbles, punctuated by sudden shrieking. Bulkypix knows how to produce an effective horror atmosphere, that is for sure.
The story-telling is simple and completely non-verbal (more to ease the localization process than for dramatic effect, we think). You wake up in a cabin bound hand and foot with duct tape, half dead, scared out of your mind, and apparently dosed with some kind of drug. Your captor is a sinister, hatchet-wielding, hooded figure. You get your chance to escape when he leaves you alone in the cabin for a moment.
Once you exit the cabin, you find that you’re lost in the middle of nowhere, out in the woods. The hatchet man is tracking you down–he’s there stalking towards you practically every time you glance over your shoulder–and if he catches you, he’ll kill you.
After every ten seconds of footage or so, you’re taken to a menu to make a quick decision: should you go left or right at this fork in the path? Will you try to hide, or just run as fast as you can? Most of these choices are timed, and if you don’t make a selection in time, or pick the wrong action, it’s curtains. Luckily, you can restart from the same sequence without penalty.
There are also some neat interactive sequences that force you to pay careful attention to your surroundings at all times. For instance, you encounter a booby trap at one point, and if you don’t touch the screen in the right spots fast enough, you’ll get blown to smithereens. In addition, the game has many light puzzle elements, such as subtle visual cues that tell you which way to go.
Hysteria Project isn’t a long game. It only took us about half an hour to make it through. But it was definitely a very cool 30 minutes, and it got us primed for the next chapter in the series; this is really just the introduction. Bulkpix’s mode of interactive storytelling is very unique, and very effective. Now that they’ve proven it’s possible, we expect it to be heavily emulated in the future.
We will be posting our own Hysteria Project video later tonight or tomorrow. For the time being, have a look at Bulkypix’s trailer.
Editor’s Note: In the spirit of full disclosure, the author used to work at Vivendi Games Mobile. So did the principals of Bulkypix.