September 4, 2013 3:05 AM | Paul Hack
It's always interesting to see what kind of horror games come out of Ludum Dare. The scariest game I've encountered among the LD27 offerings is Dark Interval by Alexander Vourtsis, a 72-hour jam entry. Despite its bright lighting and fast-paced gameplay (both unusual for the horror genre), it successfully creates a tense and frightening experience.
Surviving for long in Dark Interval is difficult not because the puzzles are that hard, but because of the strict time limit. Every action is frantic until you learn the layout of each room and tackle them with a cooler head on a second or third playthrough. You are being pursued by something called the Torment Hunter, and it'll catch up to you 10 seconds after you enter a room. There's no timer, but you'll know it's about to show up when the room starts shaking violently and your character starts panicking. The creature's only onscreen for a couple of frames after it bursts through the wall, but something about those glimpses of its twisted form are deeply unsettling.
You can control your character with with the arrow keys or an Xbox 360 controller (the Windows build even supports vibration). The interface is streamlined so you can move quickly: press left or right to walk, down to crouch, and up to interact. You can hold down X to run. There's no jumping, though I instinctively wanted to in certain rooms. Pressing up in front of paintings and other pieces of the environment will produce flavor text, but you have no time to linger over it. More importantly, looking behind paintings and in potted plants and the like can reveal keys. Pressing up will also open doors, and enter them. Sometimes, a door is not opened by a key, but by performing some action, like stepping on a switch.
The further you get, the more nightmarish things become, and soon it won't just be the Torment Hunter that can kill you. Can you make it to the final exit?