Finally, I have another game about being a freaky little nasty guy trapped in an otherworldly hell dimension to look forward to

With how advanced 3D graphics have gotten, I wish we’d use these rendering techniques to get more freaky with it, ya dig? Alan Wake 2’s funky lighting and lightning quick loading really scratched that itch for me last year, but 2022’s Scorn is really what I’m talkin’ about: a sickening fever dream that could only be brought to life in a game. Now it looks like we’re getting our first Scornlike in Necrophosis.

I’m a simple man: I love the work of H.R. Giger, the iconic Swiss artist who designed the Xenomorph, I’m a freak for Zdzisław Beksiński, a Polish painter who specialized in hauntingly beautiful and unnerving dreamscapes, and you better believe I was down for Scorn, a horror game that cribbed its whole look from both. There’s just not much out there like Scorn, and post-launch patches went a long way to addressing my biggest complaints when reviewing the game.

Alpha Beta Gamer first clocked Necrophosis as a game to watch, and also uploaded a full playthrough of the upcoming adventure game’s Steam demo. Right away, Necrophosis impressed me with its look and sound: spooky ambient music plus sickening crunches and squelches make for an excellent accompaniment to the nightmare desert city you’re trapped in, all monolithic skulls and horribly pitted, trypophobia-inducing “buildings.” Developer Dragonis Games went full Beksiński on this one.

The demo’s gameplay consists entirely of exploration and puzzle solving, with one of my favorite touches being the ability to pick up and examine objects. There’s an awful little bug that just starts screaming at you when you lift it up for an examination, wriggling and writhing as you turn it over like a Skyrim smoked salmon in your inventory menu, and that’s just the kind of disturbing, surprising interaction I want out of a game like this.

There is one big bummer here, and it’s a gripe I share with Alpha Beta Gamer: these inhuman entities are way too god damn chatty. First time I step into the world, I’m in awe of this abandoned city, a giant nasty guy with a phallus head lumbers on up to me, I’m making the Onion political cartoon Sickos face, and then this asshole starts talking. It launched into a full rendition of Percy Bysshe Shelly’s “Ozymandias,” and let me tell you this killed the mood harder than a Tinder date’s roommate asking if you all want to join a game of Settlers of Catan.

What is this, a high school literature class? I love Ozymandias as much as the next guy, but it’s a bit played out at this point, like how you can’t really pull off playing Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” over a dramatic scene anymore⁠. Breaking Bad might have just killed this one off for everybody, and even aside from that, it’s a bit too on the nose, hitting players with a poem about the prideful monuments of a lost civilization while they’re wandering among the prideful monuments of a lost civilization⁠—I think I get the gist. 

I’m not necessarily opposed to dialogue and lore in a cosmic horror game, but fellow first person freakshow Divine Frequency really shows you how it’s done: don’t explain anything, use those words sparingly, and overwhelm with Dark Souls-style non sequitur cackling and lore allusion overload when you do.

But writing good horror dialogue is a big gamble—my beloved Scorn managed to tell a fantastic story without using any whatsoever, and that’s probably the move here. Alpha Beta Gamer made a video cut of the demo with all the dialogue excised, and the result shows the true promise of Necrophosis⁠—just let all these haunting megastructures speak for themselves, old man Shelly’s said his piece and then some.

There’s plenty of time to button things up before Necrophosis’ full release, and until then you can try the demo for yourself or wishlist the game on Steam.

PCGamer.com

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