Ready or not, here I come.
A horror game created by Ice-Pick Lodge
, the same folks behind Pathologic
, and Cargo! The Quest for Gravity
. The game was successfully funded through Kickstarter, and can now be purchased on Steam.
, you play as The Lodger, a disturbed young loner, as he's caught in a nightmarish loop of suddenly waking up in an unfamiliar house again and again, without the security of knowing what's real and what's just a part of his dream. But with those visitors after him, who cares? Whether it's all real or not, the only reassurance he'll get comes with the dawn.
The basic gameplay is simple, but the game doesn't hold your hand through even the basic mechanics. You wander through a randomized house avoiding horrific monsters, as you run the clock out until dawn. Hiding rewinds the clock, and you can only hide behind furniture, so sometimes it's better to outright run.
This game provides examples of:
- 2½D: The rooms are 3D with interacting shadows and objects, but you can only move in two dimensions when not moving between levels.
- Adult Fear: Having the government kidnap your children to conduct experiments or who knows what to them. The only thing you know is that you are unlikely to ever see the child again.
- Anime Hair: Just look at that 'do!
- Somehow justified - Every level starts with the Lodger getting up in the middle of the night (probably), so it's an extreme case of bed-hair.
- Another Dimension: The real world and the dream world. Unlike other examples, it is impossible to tell which one, if either, is real. Weird stuff happens in both.
- Arc Words: "You thought about it."
- Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Reaching the monster symbol on the 'map' brings a giant entity that looms over your house for the remaining length of the game. Whether this is the monster shown in the trailers or the local ghost girl is determined by your willingness to do some side-tasks and has an impact on the ending.
- Big Bad: The Bogeyman. Sort of.
- Bizarrchitecture: The house becomes this in later stages, as it grows in size but retains the same random generator. So you'll see basements going five stories deep or towers that connect each other in bizarre ways.
- Body Horror: Most of the ghosts you encounter, some more than others◊.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: Whenever the Lodger speaks, he turns his head to the camera. It's never really stated whether he's talking to himself or actually talking to the player. There are instances, however, when he seems to talk to someone, like pleading for help.
- Creepy Shadowed Under Eyes: Doubling as Exhausted Eye Bags for The Lodger.
- Dark and Troubled Past: The Lodger and his family have one. Each of the Lodger's ancestors added a room to their ancestral home, but the Lodger claims not all legacy is good and rarely goes into some of the rooms. As for the Lodger himself, his son and two children he was asked to protect were taken by the government and, soon afterwards, a little girl(?) appeared in his house. Her body was seemingly invisible and she was wearing white clothing. It also appeared that she didn't need to eat. He wonders if she was a product of government-run experiments. One day she brought him brown leaves and he has as much of an idea as to what that means as the audience does.
- Difficulty Spike: After reaching the 'monster' symbol on the map, the game gets a lot harder. Not only do you get a lifebar of sorts, but the game throws in enemies that are faster and can follow you down and up the stairs. On top of that, the forest gets populated with (unmoving) monsters and throws a time limit at you.
- Eerie Pale-Skinned Redhead: The Lodger, again.
- Evil Laugh: Happens every time you walk into a ghost.
- Gainax Ending: Both endings are 30-second clips that will only make things even more confusing if you haven't riddled out the game's symbolism and found (and memorized) all the diary entries. They revolve around the house as a representation of the Lodger's mind, and the monsters, the Bogeyman in particular, as his repressed memories of what happened to the orphan girl during the mass abductions.
- Pagurian: Obtained if the Lodger avoids seeking out diary pages and Fragments of Reality in favor of staying safe and avoiding hostiles. As the Bogeyman draws closer, the Lodger decides to shut himself inside his house.
- Break the Cycle: Obtained if the Lodger collects Fragments of Reality, looks for diary pages, and seeks out the weeping child Guest who appears in the later stages. The Bogeyman turns into the the girl, the Lodger decided to leave for some reason, leaving his house and the rotting forest behind.
- Go Mad from the Isolation: What happened to the Lodger, probably. Even with all the Mind Screw going on, it's hard to find his monologues sane.
- Hearing Voices: The Lodger is plagued by some invisible speaker. A young girl or a raspy man tells him things. Most of it just encourages paranoia.
- Ice-Cream Koan: Sometimes the Lodger is profound and concise. Other times his words are indecipherable to anyone besides himself.
- The Insomniac: The Lodger has Exhausted Eye Bags as a result.
- Literal-Minded: The Lodger's father liked to speak in metaphors. The Lodger said he was the last member of the family to do so. As a child, his father gave him a diary and told him to write in it. When the diary is full, the Lodger's life would be over. The Lodger took him literally and decided to infrequently write in the diary and write as small and concise as possible.
- Mad Scientist: Subverted. He is mad and he is a "world-ologist", but his madness is (mostly) unrelated to his work. As a scientist, his job is to watch the forest, take observations, and record the conditions (air, soil, water, etc.) of the forest just like his ancestors. The forest has been in decline for years and the animals have fled. Since he is isolated to better conduct his studies and experiments, he has been slowly losing his mind.
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The Girl. While the Lodger created the "Guests", the girl could be a product of the government's experiments or she could be another construct of his mind. Either way, it's hinted at that she is the girl from his diary.
- Mind Screw: Good luck trying to figure out what's going on. The only clues you get are The Lodger's monologues and some diary pages, and even those rarely give you any information whatsoever, unless you look for specific ones. Unlike many games, though, this also can be said for the game-play. Was the girl another construct of his mind or a product of government experimentation? Was there government-sanctioned child kidnappings or was it in his head? Did the Lodger actually have a son or was it another fiction? Is he actually a "world-ologist" who is paid to watch the forest or is he just a madman in the woods? To quote Markiplier, the game is a bunch of loose threads that don't connect or are fully explained. Several ideas are thrown out there and many of them contradict others.
- Missing Mom: According to the Lodger's diary, he was a father, but his wife is never mentioned. His child, as well as others, was taken by the government before the story's start.
- Non Standard Game Over: It's virtually impossible to get a game over in the levels that require you to avoid ghosts, as they simply restart the level. Later in the game, however, wandering the forest without care can get you a game over screen with the Lodger apparently gone mad.
- Pajama Clad Hero: The Lodger is always "waking up". He is never shown doing his work during the day. He wakes up in the real world and waits for dawn. After he checks the house and woods, the game makes a Jump Cut to him waking up in his "dream" world.
- Perpetual Frowner: You see the expression on the Lodger up there in the page image? He wears it for 90% of the game.
- Sanity Meter: One appears after the arrival of the Bogeyman. It drains slowly whenever the Lodger isn't in his home, and it's persistent for the rest of the game — if it runs out before the very end, the Lodger loses his mind the next time he tries to go outside, forcing the player to start the game over.
- Sanity Slippage: The Lodger is a bit off-kilter at the best of times, but after the Bogeyman appears, his brief voice clips become more and more deranged. You get a Non Standard Game Over if he slips all the way, since he's too exhausted and terrified to leave his own house.
- Sleepwalking: The Lodger blames the first few oddities on this.
- Speaking Gibberish: The Lodger's speech is always a series of garbled high-pitched mumbles. Other characters speak normally, however.
- It should be noted that the Dopplegängers that appear from time to time seem to have the same voice actor but speak coherently.
- Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl: The Lodger can encounter her while wandering around the woods. Walking into her allows you 'catch a glimpse of the other world'. She can also appear over your house to indicate which ending you'll probably get.
- Trailers Always Spoil: The game trailers pretty much give away most of the designs for enemies - something vital in most horror games. Averted when it comes to any sort of plot though.
- Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: It is hinted at that the Lodger has been playing his "games" since childhood. His games often involved bringing on hauntings or, as in one game and if a certain condition is met, the death of the player (he is the only player). He never died (in-game or real life) because the condition is outlandish (like someone opening the front door when he is completely isolated from society), but his growing madness is starting to fulfill that condition...
- Unreliable Narrator: The Lodger, oh so much. Most of his monologues seem completely detached from reality (or what passes for it, anyways) and sometimes even contradict each other.
- Vague Age: The Lodger's age is never stated. Physically, he looks like a kid, but verbally, he sounds like an adult. The diary entries suggest the latter.
- The Walls Have Eyes: Some rooms have eyes scribbled on the walls or ceiling. Also used to symbolize a 'breach'.
- Your Mind Makes It Real: Many of the game's supernatural events seem to arise from the Lodger's own confused state of mind. This is what makes the game a Mind Screw.