Inscryption mixes genre and mediums in a creepy low-fi world
The atmosphere is one of the most important parts of any horror game, and although Daniel Mullins’ recent indie game Encryption may lack deliberate scares, it has an atmosphere in spades. Between eerie card game mechanics that get more and more brutal, retro low-fi graphics that make the game world uncomfortable to explore, and a sudden shift to the genre of found images – usually limited to the movie, this game independent has something that can be underestimated in anyone’s skin. The result is a disturbing journey into darkness that combines the creativity of internet horror with inspiration from Slavic myth and sheer, relentless terror.
According to Mullins, he had the vibe of the game in mind since Encryptionis very beginning. Encryption is an expanded version of Mullins’ previous game jam title Sacrifices must be made. The two start on similar notes: Players find themselves trapped in a dark, secluded cabin in the woods, where a dark figure challenges them to a game of cards. If the player wins, they can survive the encounter, but a loss will result in a fatal penalty. Apart from the length (Sacrifices must be made takes less than an hour to complete), the biggest difference between the titles is the amount of detail and depth put into the world of Encryption. Mullins spoke to Game Rant about how he set the mood, graphics, and meta-elements for Encryption.
A journey into the darkness
Described as an “ink black card odyssey” in marketing, Encryption is a game that uses its limits to its advantage. According to Mullins, the combination of low-fi visuals, deliberately jarring sound, and gameplay that actively suppresses player choices combine to create an unsettling ambience. While card games don’t seem like the most intimidating genre, Encryption uses its heavy theme of sacrifice – specifically, making sacrifices for survival – to turn the mere act of playing a card into a nerve-racking experience. Mullins said he took inspiration from existing card games, especially Magic: The Gathering, which also contain mechanics where cards can be sacrificed.
“I was like, ‘Oh, that would be cool if there was a deck of cards with the sacrifice in the center of it,” and so the squirrels sacrificed for other creatures came to my mind. Then I took the idea of sacrificing further – What if at some point in the game you had to sacrifice your own body parts, and if you cut your hand, what implications would that have? ”
Sacrifices must be made took the heart of this sacrifice-based horror card game and added dark and grimy low-fidelity 3D visuals as well as a soundtrack recreated in GarageBand using synthesizers. According to Mullins, it would press 10 keys simultaneously and make a horrible noise alongside spooky visuals. After Sacrifices must be made attracted more attention than any other jam game the creator had worked on, he decided to expand it. Encryption took the visual style a step further by incorporating a shader that posterizes dark colors without affecting light colors. This created the signature look of the play of harsh shadows and softer light colors while keeping the text lit Encryptionmany readable maps.
The fear of mixing genres
However, as effective as the 3D card game segments of Encryption are, they are just the beginning of what this game has to offer. The cabin sequence taken from Sacrifices must be made is only the first part of Encryption, and the second and third parts give a new twist to the atmosphere of the game and the oppressive visuals. The decision to incorporate found video footage, as well as different styles of play, can be even more memorable – especially as the video segments introduce a new element: meta-horror.
The decision to present the game’s player, Luke Carder, as a separate character who struggles to solve the mystery of Encryption change everything. Suddenly, Encryption isn’t just a horror / adventure card game filled with mind-boggling puzzles – it’s a medium mixing experience inspired by internet horror genres like creepypastas and alternate reality games. The part of the images found has also been given a deliberately retro look designed to evoke the grainy look of a camcorder rather than the smoother images recorded by a modern smartphone.
“Part of the aesthetic of the video was to obscure it, make it a little more spooky and give the impression of a more found footage, but also to explain that it is a camcorder. and not, like, high resolution cell phone footage. ”
The game portions of Encryption are deliberately on a low ground floor, with the second part even taking place in a 2D pixel art setting inspired by the old Pokémon Trading Card Game for Game Boy Color. It’s not surprising to see the video parts follow suit, especially when the story of Encryption is to unearth the mysteries of the game’s past.
The subjective nature of horror
Despite Encryption Being a very scary game, its creator has expressed uncertainty as to whether the title counts as a true horror game. In fact, he described it more as a weird adventure than a horror game. Encryption features few jumpscares and no threats that are not fully telegraphed to the player in advance. Unlike the intentional panic and confusion of most horror games, the objectives of the game are relatively straightforward, while the story is so complex that fans are always trying to uncover its final secrets.
“I really like the vibe of a creepypasta and the idea that you see things that you weren’t supposed to see or that were private to someone else. I was definitely trying to capture something like that. . ”
A creepypasta is a form of short Internet storytelling where a frightening event is usually presented as if it actually happened, often in the first person. that could explain Encryptionimportant meta elements of; Mullins thinks that most of the fear and tension of Encryption comes from its weird mood, low-fi visuals, and disturbing soundscape. He feels like he created the game to be a scary and intense experience, but didn’t necessarily intend for it to haunt players or make them scream. Despite this, the inclusion of distinctly disturbing images such as a big blemish video, blood flowing on the floor, and live sacrifices before virtual altars penetrate players’ skin.
Each part of the game has its own scares, from the obscure cabin uncertainty in part one, to the austere simplicity of part two and the obvious disappointments of part three. The narrative conveyed through segments of found footage adds another layer of tension by reminding players that the player is also part of the story, and if he cannot solve the mystery of Encryption, he may not survive until the end of the game. In all, Encryption is a spooky adventure that mixes mediums and genres in a way gamers will likely not soon forget.
Encryption is now available for PC.
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