This is Stifled. It's a brand new horror game where making as much noise as possible may be the only thing keeping you from dying. This first-person adventure will be hitting Steam on December 13 and I couldn't be more excited. I know you have a lot of questions about this one, so let's crib this.
Wait, what's this about making noise?
Yeah, I thought that would get your attention. Stifled has an interesting gimmick that involves making noise. It starts out like a lot of other horror games, where our hero is stranded in the woods after a car accident and forced to explore the surroundings. In this case, we're sent deep underground into a convoluted sewer system, which is never the first thing you want to do after flipping your car off the road.
If this were pretty much any other horror game, the developers would have you stumbling into flashlight or collecting candles. But Stifled goes in a whole other direction; one I certainly didn't see coming. I'm not sure how it works, but our hero can see the outlines of his surroundings whenever a noise is made. That means that every time you walk or throw a stone, the sound waves will ripple out and make the screen look like an old Vectrex game.
So you throw rocks around to make noise?
Sure, that's one way of doing it, but Stifled has another trick up its sleeve. It wants you to hook up your microphone and quite literally talk to the game. When everything is pitch black and you don't know where to go, a loud yell into the mic will light the way. This is a lot better than throwing a rock or tapping on the walls, and it got me into the game in a way I wasn't expecting. Best of all, the whole thing was incredibly easy to set-up and fine-tune, even with my non-standard equipment.
Wait, didn't Manhunt already do the same thing?
Well, I suppose that's true. One of the best things about Rockstar's 2004 stealth action game was how it put you into the action by having the player wear headphones. This meant that you couldn't say anything without alerting the guards, which helped ratchet up both the tension and the immersion. Stifled expands this idea in some truly clever ways. This game is more than just talking to reveal the surroundings, because you'll also need to keep quiet when enemies are around. This is presented with cool red outlines, sort of like the Virtual Boy. Knowing when to yell, when to whisper and when to shut up is a big part of this game, and the concept has a lot of potential.
Coming in at around 15 minutes, the demo I played was frustratingly short. It set up the mechanics and gave me a taste of the tone, but I have no idea where it goes from there. Hopefully they don't just repeat the same types of scenarios and the developers come up with new ways of milking that gimmick. I can't wait to play through the finished game on December 13.