Back in 1995 - An hour of super lo-fi survival-horror footage

Dusk Golem

A 21st Century Rockefeller
Sep 15, 2011
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800
Portland, Oregon
www.twitch.tv
https://youtu.be/2VEcctelZB8?t=1577

Back in 1995 is a retro-styled survival-horror game with fixed camera angles, tank controls, and the like being made by a small Japanese indie studio that aimed to make a retro styled survival horror game from the SEGA Saturn/PSX era. They announced it a couple years ago, and have only selectively shown small bits of it over the years.

They announced last month that the full game will be releasing on Steam this month (April 2016), and before they released it they were going to have an hour-long demo from a slice of the game playable at an indie game show in Tokyo being held between April 4th-5th, and then show off the demo build with a few Japanese game stations and channels before releasing it for everyone later this month.

The first of those videos appeared, showing off the most of the game shown by a large margin, which you can find at the time in the video I linked above. This is oddly one of the first times an indie studio has aimed to make a classic-styled survival-horror game, aesthetics and all, since the indie boom started, so I at least personally am excited.

I'm about to fully sit down and watch it myself, so I may make some notes of things I notice as a genre enthusiast in posts below, but thought I should bring attention to this for those who are interested in this sort of thing and want an idea of what this game is before it launches later this month.

 

Dusk Golem

A 21st Century Rockefeller
Sep 15, 2011
19,008
2
800
Portland, Oregon
www.twitch.tv
So, some notes while watching:

-They really got the music down for old horror games. It is appropriately ominous, but also melodic, and sounds like using the same sort of soundfonts horror from the era used.

-You can definitely see the Silent Hill inspiration. The way the item comes close to the screen and spins around before you pick it up, the health items being health drinks, and the sort of fleshy monsters all definitely call back to it.

-Interestingly, the inventory seems like a mixture of Resident Evil's/Silent Hill's. Here's a screen of it:

You can see the weapon you equip on the table in the background, which is a nice touch. Your character's health you can tell by the color around his portrait at the bottom-right. I wonder if the game has alt costumes since it shows his whole person?

-Combat is also very reminiscent of Silent Hill, can do some side-steps, swing weapon clumsily, and if can get in to an enemy, can get them to be stunned a bit.

-There's some loose stealth mechanics like some older horror games. You can get behind the monster and attack it before it notices you. In SH could turn off flashlight to be less noticeable, and in RE if you didn't run you'd be less noticeable.

-Okay, I LOVE the monster selection. I wasn't to fond of the first monsters you meet and was hoping for variety (the first ones kind of look like fleshy ghosts almost), but later in the demo, they get a lot weirder and more interesting. There's these monsters that look like feet sticking out of the ground that make chirpy noises and flail around, and there's this thing, that's actually pretty creepy and has a cool method of attack and seems threatening:


-Does the old-school horror thing where a picture of files appear in the background with text in-front when reading a note.

-There is some item collecting back-tracking, and puzzles. There's a long on-going puzzle in the area in the demo involving paintings and combination numbers which is a bit interesting.

---

I'm curious to play it shortly, and curious how long it is. I can't understand Japanese, so I don't know the storyline, but I imagine it's about getting to the giant transmission tower that's in the game's logo/seen at the beginning of the demo, so I assume you'll go through a few buildings to reach to it, and the end of the demo shows pressing some button and the world starting to get a bit dark/glitchy, so I wonder what that's about.

To see if it can stand well with some of the Resident Evil clones of yesteryear, a number of them developed into interesting things as they went, so I'm curious for more and did skip segments to not show myself too much, but it does look like an old horror game from 1995, so that's a compliment.
 
Feb 20, 2015
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I'm so down for this.

I'll buy this day 1 and any other game that caters to dormant genres like this. There's obviously still a market for them and they can be successful as long as production values are kept in check and not needing to sell millions of units just to start to make back what was invested.

I also really like the art style. I hope low-poly is the next "retro pixel art" in terms of being a widely adopted art style.
 

Stumpokapow

listen to the mad man
May 21, 2006
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I wonder if you can get rid of that CRT filter (the scanlines, dull colours, and screen curvature). Skimming around the video it looks super cool besides that IMHO!
 

samsirus

Neo Member
Dec 8, 2014
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Looks like a good one, I'll have to check it out.

Reminds me of original Alone in the Dark.

 

georly

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Apr 23, 2013
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So the era of low poly retro is beginning? Neat. Can't wait for the era of "looks like unreal 3."

Either way, this looks pretty cool. Will add to wishlist, hopefully it reviews well.
 

Dusk Golem

A 21st Century Rockefeller
Sep 15, 2011
19,008
2
800
Portland, Oregon
www.twitch.tv
I'm so down for this.

I'll buy this day 1 and any other game that caters to dormant genres like this. There's obviously still a market for them and they can be successful as long as production values are kept in check and not needing to sell millions of units just to start to make back what was invested.

I also really like the art style. I hope low-poly is the next "retro pixel art" in terms of being a widely adopted art style.
I hope so, though some may not be big on it. It should be possible to emulate and use with current styles for those who want to make 3D games but don't have the team/size/budget/time/whatever for trying to make a modernized 3D game.

I wonder if you can get rid of that CRT filter (the scanlines, dull colours, and screen curvature). Skimming around the video it looks super cool besides that IMHO!
I'm curious about this too. There's shots of the game without the effect, so I think you might be able to turn it on/off.

Looks like a good one, I'll have to check it out.

Reminds me of original Alone in the Dark.

That's what I was thinking, too. It does look a lot like the early 3D horror games/SEGA Saturn horror games, specifically.

Tank controls? Some things should stay in 1995.
I've always thought tank controls were needlessly disliked. They're not very hard to get a handle on and makes sense with how the camera shifts and changes. I think it's not hard to wrap your head around them within 5 minutes of fiddling around with them.

So the era of low poly retro is beginning? Neat. Can't wait for the era of "looks like unreal 3."

Either way, this looks pretty cool. Will add to wishlist, hopefully it reviews well.
Hoping it's good too. To see, I've played a lot of Resident Evil clones, so I'll see how it compares to them when I play. It at least looked decent, probably more, but to see how it uses itself. I also find myself curious of how long it might be, I'm personally hoping for the 4-10 hour range.

I am curious how it might review being a game that's obviously aimed at a retro market. A lot of games with retro-stylings get recognized as being such when reviewed, but also I know more publications don't seem to like old-school horror design and many horror games with old-school elements will be criticized for not modernizing its vision, despite there is a niche market that's interested in more games like these. But there hasn't been any that are this legitimately old-school to this point, so be interesting to see how it goes down.

Curious how outlets may perceive it, and how fellow horror enthusiast and myself will perceive it.
 

oatmeal

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Jun 17, 2007
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Interesting.

When indies were using the 8-bit style, I wondered if they would eventually reach 32-bit/64-bit or if tech had gotten better where they'd jump that.

Pretty cool, but I hope it plays well and isn't all botched just to be botched like an old game. Smooth gameplay is crucial, even with tank controls.
 

Kissenkopf

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Feb 2, 2013
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Really nice. It got the look of the early PS1 horror games perfectly emulated. Other than 8Bit games which does not look anything like an original 8Bit game this one looks really like a game from the time they aim to copy.
 

Tain

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Jun 13, 2004
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This looks more like Saturn 3D by inexperienced devs than it does Silent Hill. Regardless, I'm a little curious.

Especially hoping for some solid puzzles.
 

Accoun

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Oct 19, 2011
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I wonder if you can get rid of that CRT filter (the scanlines, dull colours, and screen curvature). Skimming around the video it looks super cool besides that IMHO!
Especially for people that still have actual CRTs they can play it on. :)
 

Blueingreen

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Aug 14, 2014
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I hope games using old school poly graphics becomes a thing. I really like it.

I'm so bored of 8bit-16 bit indie games, bring back the 32bit polygonal jankiness of the 90's.

Which reminds me, I remember there was a recent Postal 2 Dlc that still used UE 2 lool.
 

RedSwirl

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Mar 29, 2009
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It really does look like a 1995 game. As-in, it looks more like a game from the Saturn or very early PSX era as opposed to later PSX games like Silent Hill 1 or Vagrant Story. Art assets definitely don't look as good as SH1. Go back and search screenshots of SH1. The environments in that game are surprisingly detailed for its era.

I like the inclusion of a CRT filter though. I think more low-res games should include it as an option. Graphics like this were never meant to be seen in crisp 1080p. In my opinion re-rendering games like this in HD does little more than bring out flaws the developers never wanted you to see, exceptions being made for exceptionally-detailed games. Overall I really hope faux 32-bit games became a trend though. If it does it'll mostly happen because it's cheaper than making full-blown Unreal Engine 4 graphics. I just hope indies who do this don't get stuck on the Minecraft aesthetic. There need to be more games that look like this, SH1, Vagrant Story, Mega Man Legends, Devil Daggers, and Quake. Oh, and a few games that try to look like Sega Model 1 games wouldn't hurt either.

On tank controls, I actually don't like tank controls or fixed camera angles in games where you have to deal with enemies. If this was a pure adventure game I'd be fine with it, but dealing with enemies becomes unnecessarily janky. Tank controls are partly a product of an era before some designers figured out full 3D controls. I'd much rather prefer a survival horror game with enemies designed to feel dangerous even with a modern camera and control system.

If you're looking for other indie games in this genre, another project is called Song of Horror. It looks like basically the same concept but with much more modern graphics.
 

soultron

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Jul 24, 2007
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Looks pretty neat. I wish the environments had a bit more detail. The geometry of most stuff isn't very complex, and as other posters have mentioned, this leads to things like SH1 looking a lot more advanced. Not sure how many people are working on this though, so I'm not really upset about that.

I'm into it.
 

Bl@de

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Aug 4, 2014
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Already releasing this month? Thanks for the info. Had it on my wishlist but I thought it's still far away.

Lightning seems meh. Silent Hill 1 had better graphics^^
 

OnionPowder

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Jan 4, 2014
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That would definitely be a cool experience :D

Does anyone know if there are any companies that still make CRTs?
I don't think so. Though if you want one you should probably get one sooner rather than later as most second hand shops around me seem to be dumping them. I was able to pick up a 22" with decent quality for $9 2 weeks ago. YMMV obviously.
 

Occam

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Oct 15, 2013
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The CRT effects are way too strong. If you were gaming on a Trinitron with RGB in the mid 1990s, it looked much better.
 

Tain

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One day I'll make a sick character action game with tank controls and prove all these naysayers wrong.

One day.
maybe I'm being extra dense and missing the joke you may be making but one exists already~

The CRT effects are way too strong. If you were gaming on a Trinitron with RGB in the mid 1990s, it looked much better.
Absolutely. I'd prefer no filter if that's the only one provided.
 

Sakujou

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Oct 22, 2012
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nice to see someone going for this.

somehow i get tired of all those 8-16bit indie games...
 

MrLuvvaLuvva

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Sep 7, 2015
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This looks promising! I love the PSOne look of it, I love tank controls and that VHS filter is god tier.

My only reservation is that they really don't seem to get the idea behind fixed perspective - they were used to frame the horror, not the protagonist.Many angles are just unusual (like the one where the character is obscured by a wall) or they are far too close to the character. There are also far too many camera changes and to be honest it gave me a sore head!

I know its early in development, but I really hope they fix this otherwise I'm afraid I'll Duncan Bannatyne it.
 

Bollocks

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Feb 7, 2010
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yeah that scanline filter is fucking awful, my Resident Evil never looked anything like this.
other than that it looks cool, although I think it is a tad too low res for the PSX era
 
D

Deleted member 80556

Unconfirmed Member
Are they playing on a PSX controller? Amazing.

This looks great. I'm glad something like this can exist. Thanks for the in-depth post, Dusk!
 

SolidSnakex

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Jun 7, 2004
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One day I'll make a sick character action game with tank controls and prove all these naysayers wrong.

One day.
Mikami already did that when he made RE4. Some don't realize it has tank controls because the camera is locked behind Leon instead of various fixed angles.
 

Robdraggoo

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Nov 20, 2013
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Psx games looked better than that didnt they?

Oh god! Im that guy

But i wholeheartedly miss that gen of gaming
 

rjc571

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Jun 23, 2012
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As mentioned in the previous thread, this game's graphics are way below PSX/Saturn quality, even when compared with 1995 launch titles.

The actual inspiration for this game's look appears to be a game called Doctor Hauzer which was released exclusively in Japan for the 3DO in 1994. Although that game's framerate is even worse than this game. (Literally talking 5 fps here.)