Stifled is an upcoming first-person horror game from Singapore-based studio Gattai Games. Heavily featured at this year’s Gamescom, in no small part thanks to their partnership with Sony Interactive Entertainment that’s seeing a number of Asian-born titles coming West, we got a chance to pop in and see just what the five-person developer team have accomplished.
Experiencing an early level of the game, I found myself standing beside an overturned car somewhere in a forest. The darkness surrounded me, the only light was the small interior light bulb of the now useless vehicle. Without much context to go on, I made my way into the foreboding forest, issuing a few ‘hello’s along the way to send out multiple shock waves of radar pings, something the game allows by way of the PSVR’s integrated microphone. A perpetually babbling brook ‘lit up’ my way to some sort of water processing plant, the scene of my first encounter with one of the game’s shrieking monsters.
Winding my down to the guts of the facility, my footfalls on the metal steps awoke a two foot-tall monster. A wild shriek accompanied its own radar pings, its blood-red lines eclipsing my white ones. Even a slight clearing of my throat seemed to tip it off to my location as I went further through the level, trying to distance myself as much as possible in the dark and trying my best to navigate with only minimal echolocative pings.
Admittedly, using my voice to activate the echolocation ping eventually started to grate on my nerves a bit, but thankfully there’s a button that lets you send out a ping with a randomly generated “woah!” or “hello?” from your character. This saves you from saying “hello” every 5 seconds, but also makes you less aware of the times when you genuinely open your mouth for a cursory (and genuine) “oh fuck.” In a game where the wrong noise can get you killed, I’d imagine you’d learn pretty quickly not to do this, but it’s hard not to be startled by the little red monster guy when he’s screaming for your blood and coming your way.
While the bulk of the game takes place in a wire mesh monochrome world, a portion will invariably unfold within the safety of lit areas, as only genuine light sources let you see in technicolor. Speaking to developer Justin Ng, he admitted the game was cheap in terms of graphical resources required to run it, but it was clear the game is anything but cheaply made. While it could be accused of being visually sparse, I found the black and white (sometimes red) color scheme an interesting twist to what could have just as easily been a run-of-the-mill stealth game.
Originally slated to release on Steam for Vive and Rift in December last year, the game was indefinitely postponed for polishing. Presumably it was shortly thereafter that Sony contacted Gattai with the proposition of a deal to publish Stifled on PSVR. While a Steam page still exists, Ng tells me the game is set to launch on PSVR ‘pretty soon’. There’s no word yet on when Oculus Rift and HTC Vive will get support after its initial launch on PSVR.