October 17, 2013 11:30 AM | Paul Hack
One of the most ambitious games to be completed for the 48-hour Asylum Jam is The Unknown, from David Rico of Dead Man Walking Studios, developer of the recently greenlit Rebirth. Rico really shows off his skills by delivering a highly playable first-person horror game that features polished graphics, excellent audio, and procedurally generated scares.
You find yourself in a room, one of many chambers and corridors that make up the labyrinth around you. A sign on the statue in front of you seems to promise escape in exchange for 3 pieces of gold. You have no choice but to explore the darkened hallways, flashlight in hand, looking for the treasure chests that are stashed around the maze. To help you find your way back to the statue, you can mark your trail by leaving bloody handprints on the walls (by pressing T).
Besides getting physically lost, you also face the danger of losing your mind. The layout of the maze is procedurally generated, and so are the events that haunt you during your time there. There are plenty of different gruesome discoveries, jump scares, and supernatural occurrences to experience, but you'll have to play the game a few times in order to see all that it has to offer. Each of these events, if viewed directly, can increase your "Fear" count--and the things in this place will scare you to death. Actually, I wonder whether these phenomena are caused by the labyrinth, or if it's just you.
As Rico says of The Unknown, "The game is an exploration of the feeling of panic and hopelessness that comes from being lost, both mentally and physically." Most sessions with the game succeed at conjuring that feeling admirably. There are however, a few quirks, such as when doors swing toward you after being pushed, or the rare occasion when a level doesn't actually contain enough gold--but some bugs are forgiveable in a 48-hour jam game. The developer is hard at work on an update that will address most issues.