Russian developer Ice-Pick Lodge's earlier game Pathologic is possibly the bleakest, most depressing game ever created. It's a slog to get through, but a rewarding and thought-provoking experience if you put the time in.
Today, the company has announced its latest project: a rather strange-looking affair known as Knock-Knock. While the overall aesthetic is very different to the overwhelming brownness of Pathologic's dated visuals, the sense of bleakness, despair and hopelessness is still seemingly present and correct -- albeit for very different reasons.
According to Ice-Pick Lodge, the game's existence is the result of an unsolicited email it received back in November of 2011. Said email was an anonymous pitch suggesting that the team make a game based on the attachments found in the message. Such emails are received fairly commonly by a lot of developers, but there was something very different about this one.
The attachments supposedly included fragments of text, bits of audio and an "oddly-worded message written in a disturbing style." The team claims the anonymous stranger warned them that while they would have creative freedom to use the material as they saw fit, they may find themselves suffering the same fate as whoever compiled the archive in the first place. Keen to jump in to an experience that would potentially destroy their collective sanity, the team ran a successful Kickstarter campaign last year, and it now seems as if the game is nearing completion.
Whether or not the game's backstory is true, it's certainly an intriguing tale -- and the game itself looks to be rather interesting, too.
In Knock-Knock, you play the role of a hermit living alone in the forest. The house is beset by "Visitors," strange beings that knock on the hermit's windows and invite him to take part in a deadly game of hide-and-seek. Some of them are already inside the house, clattering around and draining the hermit's sanity, so it's your job to guide our hero around as he attempts to seal the breaches and remain safe for another night. Each in-game night, there'll be a number of random items scattered around to help you -- but with an inventory that can only hold five items at a time, you'll have to pick your tools wisely.
Ice-Pick Lodge promises an experience in which the game will play you as much as you play it -- something which will be very familiar to anyone who played Pathologic through to its conclusion. It all sounds like a rather terrifying experience, and the distinctive art style is the stuff from which nightmares are made.
There's no release date for Knock-Knock as yet, but you can check out the official website here. Watch this space for some impressions soon.