Monstrum, the latest release from Dundee’s Team Junkfish, has just been released as an ‘alpha’ or work-in-progress-don’t-be-surprised-if-it-changes-quite-a-bit for those of you outside the games sector.
This is a system that worked really rather well for Minecraft and allows players to experience the game, provide feedback and builds an audience prior to the game’s ‘official’ release. Monstrum was recently Greenlit by users on Steam, making it available to a mere 65 million players on release.
Monstrum is something new and really quite different…
[The game] is a first person survival horror game which finds players stranded aboard a vast, derelict ship filled with traps, environmental hazards, and another passenger in the shape of a terrifying and deadly beast.
With no means to take their pursuer down the player must search the ship to discover a possible means of escape, using their wits and guile to evade the monster hunting them, running, hiding and luring it away with distractions to avoid getting killed.
Combining permadeath, a variety of different hunters and a procedurally generated ship that changes its layout every time, Monstrum is a challenging and punishing game that aims to be a truly replayable horror experience.
What this means is that, fiendishly, the game changes every single time you play it. The code will change the structure of the ship you’re trapped on, the location’s of the monster(s) and the items you can find. Team Junkfish may well have solved one of the biggest problems with horror-themed games – familiarity, leading to loss of scariness.
Monstrum has already started to impress the games media, with Eurogamer stating:
It all looks great, too, with neat procedural variation, atmospheric locations, and a terrifying beast that stalks you through darkened corridors and dripping engine rooms.
On paper it sounds like the most demonic game of Pac-Man ever conceived, as your survivor attempts to flee a stranded 1970s sea freighter while being hounded across its maze-like corridors by an unrelenting monster. The beast will never stop searching for you as you try to piece together whatever supplies you need to make good your escape, and to make matters worse, each playthrough sees the ship’s interior completely randomised using procedural tech in Unity.
The game is being developed for PC, with Windows as the lead platform, with Mac’s OSX and Linux to follow. Even more drool-worthy, Team Junkfish is building in Oculus Rift support – the virtual reality headset, beloved of game developers and recently acquired by Facebook.
All in all, it looks like Monstrum may be one of the most pants-shittingly terrifying games for years. A whole generation of gamers may be put off ocean travel, monsters and extemporising weapons from everyday objects for the rest of their shortened, tragic and tear-stained trembling lives.
Monstrum’s Alpha has reduced functionality compared to that proposed for the final game. Feature list for the current build is:
- 1 Monster
- 1 Escape route
- Ship Castle Tower ‘Crew Deck’ environment only (no engine room & container hold)
- Procedural Environment and Item placement
- Non-lethal Environmental traps
The Alpha build includes some known issues that are not yet ironed out completely:
- Frame-rate drops when loading Monster
- Frame-rate drops when outside.
- Light/Geometry culling issues including flickering (again mostly when outside).
- Monster can get caught in doorways for 2-3 seconds.
- Monster path-finding occasionally rotates on spot.
- Monster door destruction may cause door to fall through geometry.
- Items clip through geometry.
- Spamming ‘f’ to interact with light switches can cause you to get lodged in walls.
- Some journal entries may render incorrectly (example: ‘side’ becomes ‘sid’ in one entry).
- <TAB> does not take you to the latest journal entry.
- Some items do not sit in hand correctly.
- Leaning can cause player to clip through geometry.
- Some animations intermittently lose sync.
- No controller support in game over / game win menu’s.
- Oculus is not yet optimised
OS: Windows 7/Vista/XP – 32/64 bit
CPU: Intel core2 due / AMD Athlon 64 x2 @ 2.4GHz
Graphics: Any Nvidia / AMD ATI 1GB Graphics card
Hard Drive: 1.3GB
Sound: Any directx 10.0 compliant sound card.
Monstrum is available to the media only right now, but TJ are promising a more general release at some point soon.
(and a big thumbs up on an excellent press release and press kit to the Junkfishes too)