As a fan of Lovecraft, few things make me more excited than when I hear news that a horror game that shows actual potential will be tackling this classic idea. This time, Lunar Cult Studios enters the fray with their title Lust for Darkness. Born around a year ago on Kickstarter, the project was funded, and while bits and pieces of info were tossed out here and there, not a lot of big news came down the pipeline until just recently. A trailer for the game was just released and it looks promising:
My first impressions give me Amnesia vibes, with the rustic style of furniture and standing candles, not to mention that loud noise assaulting your ears during jumpcuts which is reminiscent of the wailing sound of a monster chasing you in Amnesia. While on the other hand, the music reminds me of Bioshock, funny enough. The dancing woman that comprises the focus of the shot is unsettling in her own way. Objects that are supposed to be pleasant instead being frightening is a tried and true method, which can be seen all over, a common example is the fear of clowns, or children. Adding a malicious undertone to a situation that we thought we could trust can be far more effective than throwing us in some dark pit with slimey demons.
Another classic trope that this looks to tackle is the horror-ification (If that was not a word, then it is now.) of sex symbols. Many are tired of that and consider it to be worn out, but I myself think it can be one of the most effective types of horror if done well. As for whether Lust for Darkness is going to do it well or not is up for debate, since all we have is the trailers and synopsis to go by until the game is fully released. Of course, with Lust being in the title, sexual themes were a given. But considering intimacy is when humans are most vulnerable, it can be a touchy subject that can be exploited for some great scares and wincing moments (I am looking at you, Outcast: Whistleblower, you little rascal, you.) The few shots the trailer shows encompass one emotion that can be very effective when used well: A feeling of being uncomfortable, which goes hand in hand with a feeling of disgust. It will be exciting to see how the studio makes use of these tactics to create a compelling world. Too many horror games fall into the trap of a haunted house design philosophy, where the only purpose of the world is to lead the player from one scare to the next. The fact the game seems to be choosing to explore some heavier themes hints that it may be taking a more human approach to the idea of horror, something that is always welcome in a frequently stale lineup of releases from year to year.
Another important thing to note is that yes, Lust for Darkness is a Kickstarter game. I can hear your eyes rolling into the back of your skull, but this one seems to actually have come to fruition, as the full game is set to launch on June 12th on Steam, so be sure to stay on the lookout for it. I for one have high hopes for this game based on content that has been shown already, but how a game looks and how it plays are two different beasts entirely, and with some disappointing releases in the genre recently I remain cautiously optimistic that Lust for Darkness can surprise and shock me in all the right ways. An irregular heartbeat always beats an irregular framerate.
One thing that Lust for Darkness has going for it that I find to be relatively unique is that the trailers have focused a lot more on the themes than on any idea of what the story may be. The only reason the plot is known is due to the synopsis given during the Kickstarter. This could be a stylistic choice, or perhaps the game will have a story emphasis that makes it a spoiler-heavy title. A focus on storytelling has been a major trend in 2018 so far, not just in the horror genre but universally.
We will keep a close eye on what the future holds for Lust for Darkness.