So far 2017 is shaping up to be a horrifying year, election results notwithstanding. So far, we've been granted a peek at spooky titles such as Scorn, Agony, Routine, Allison Road and many more, all brought to us through the magic of Kickstarter and the wonders of crowdfunding. Before we close the book on 2016 though, it seems there's at least one more prospective title to look forward to Inner Chains. Having already beaten its funding goal earlier this year, and with a page up and active on Steam, the game is well into it's development, and if the newest footage from Telepath Tree Studios is anything to go by, it's in good hands.
The latest trailer, released a mere couple of weeks ago at the time of this writing, showcases the opening moments of the game, which tells us little, but shows us much. My mind was immediately drawn to the grim and unnerving art style, which makes the world look almost as though it were ripped from the cover of either a heavy metal or industrial music album. A barren world stretches tot he horizon, beset by aggressive flora which only prompts one to imagine what kind of awful fauna must exist alongside them. In the distance, a smoking, burning tower looms, while grey fog, or perhaps smog, chokes the atmosphere. Men dressed in garments that bring to mind evil cultists line the roadside, and everywhere is the sense of death. Just watching this brief glimpse of the world of Inner Chains had me engrossed, and I couldn't help but think of the work of Clive Barker. Something about the game had me thinking of the games that bear his name, such as Jericho and Undying. Thankfully the game doesn't seem to suffer as much from an intrusively brown color palate as Jericho, but the fact remains that the world seemed twisted enough to suit his nightmarish repertoire. Also evident was the influence of H. R. Giger, with elements of the landscape featuring his iconic pseudo-organic style, though it's not as profuse as it is in Scorn, another upcoming title that draws heavily on the late artist's style.
Beyond what the trailer shows, the developers have a bit more to tell. According to the Steam page's description, Inner Chains is a hybrid horror-FPS game, which can be confirmed from clips shown in other trailers that feature the player wielding some kind of lightning gun. The flavor text says much but reveals little directly. What it seems to suggest is that some cataclysm brought about the end of civilization tens of thousands of years ago, and what remains is a post-technological society, living in fear and superstition. A caste system of some sort seems to have developed, with those capable of wielding the power of long-lost technologies placed at the top. Meanwhile, humanity continues to strip the land bare, 'oblivious to its own history'. In short, the world has both progressed, and regressed, to a sort of Middle Ages-style setting, only far, far more disturbing and grim.
The descriptions state that the player will take on the role of an inhabitant of this dreary and unnerving universe who is seeking a mythical place called 'Last Hope', in the belief that it will help them escape this dying Earth. It's all very Waterworld, but without the water, and a lot of very evil-looking murdery cultists, plus a giant burning wicker man. If that doesn't pique your interest, I don't know what will. It certainly got mine. All I can say is I deeply hope that they show more of the gameplay. Despite a disclaimer that the game was not intended to be a walking simulator (not that there's anything wrong with a good old-fashioned haunted house), walking was all the player did during the teaser. If I'm going to spend money on this, I'd like to see a few more features, maybe a dev-diary. Prey recently wowed me with just such a thing, so I put it to the people at Telepath Tree: you have my attention; now, earn my interest. Show me that you're more than just some harsh robes and cool imagery! MAKE ME BELIEVE!