Late Night Shop is a first person ‘mannequin evader’ built by Plymouth, England based studio Total Monkery. The game, which is currently in pre-alpha, is excruciatingly close to a personal nightmare of store mannequins come to life.
Much like the ‘Weeping Angels’ of the new Doctor Who (2005) series, the mannequins in Late Night Shop only move when you aren’t looking directly at them. But you can always hear the pitter-patter of their evil little feet as you whip around corners, run down corridors and frantically try to open doors with the possessed creatures never far behind.
Set in an imaginary recreation of British super-saver chain store Primark, the creators the game say Late Night Shop “is going to get WEIRD. Think Primark as rendered by Dali.” Although admittedly the team has left out some mind-bending mechanics for the sake of VR comfortablity, they say they’re “trying to balance spatial weirdness with not being sick.”
In an interview with Gamestyle, Total Monkery artist Fred Fitzpatrick says that inspiration for the game comes from the Mario series ghost-enemy, the Boos, and that “they basically sprint at you the entire time you’re not looking at them, covering space in seconds. And they really pounce on you, so you’re on a knife edge the whole time.”
Fitzpatrick elucidates on the choice for VR support:
We got VR involved pretty much as soon as we started working on LNS here at Total Monkery. I applied it to the playable demo we’d made to pitch the game and everybody that playtested it really loved it. They all seemed really psyched and at that point we realised how important it was.
I found the pre-alpha build of Late Night Shop to be good mix of careful strategy and creeping terror—but not the type that usually accompanies random jump scares that invariably make you want to toss the VR headset clear across the room. Jump scares do happen, but not as you’d imagine.
It’s more of an unsuspecting madness that haunts you as you enter into dimly lit sections of the space, fully aware that your survival depends upon your ability to track several enemies at a time and find the quickest way to escape.
One of the most unsettling mechanics in the game is a ‘click to blink’ function, which allows you to check if the mannequin is possessed or not by closing your eyes for a brief second. An outstretched hand is enough to tell that you better keep an eye on it, otherwise you’ll end up having to run through the game again… or just noping the hell out of there entirely.
We’ll be waiting to see what Total Monkery has up their sleeves next for a longer version of the game, and what other areas we’ll be forced to trudge through. For now, the game flashes hints like “Nothing interesting here. Try back again later” to usher you one way or another, which can be unnecessarily limiting at times.
A multiplayer version is also in development, but it’s hard to imagine how it would work with multiple sets of eyes keeping mannequins in their places. Whatever the case may be, it all sounds downright terrifying.
Gamestyle is reporting that Late Night Shop is slated for a Q1 2016 release.