Pulse, The Rake and Survivors – Some Ideas for Your Little Minutes

So you’re busy, you’ve got about an hour before you have to deal with some stuff in the real world. That world into which I rarely venture. I understand that some people, for bizarre reasons, don’t have the time to sit down and play six straight hours of Skyrim or Mass Effect 3 and so while I do not understand I suppose I should take pity on them and offer them some solace. Thus here comes the second article in our series of Some Ideas for Your Little Minutes. These articles will be of games (or perhaps betas of games) that we can’t rightfully give full reviews, because we don’t classify them as full games. But importantly these games will not be something you need to sit down and focus on for hours on end!

Our first offering for those times when you want to relax and play some games but haven’t the time to play something proper is particularly useful if you have some friends with you who also have a similar amount of time to spare. Survivers is a rather obscure game and searching for the official page on Google is actually pretty difficult, not only because they have misspelt the word “Survivors” as “Survivers” but also because the game is actually still only in Beta AND the game was made by Russians and so the homepage tends to be difficult to find using English. Thanks to PewDiePie though we can present to you a link to the official page itself.

Anyway, the game’s premise is really rather simple. It plays like a multiplayer Slender (The Eight Pages) with you and up to four friends placed into a large square map filled with various structures and objects which you need to search to try and find eleven pages. While you search the dark forest, shapes looming out of the blackness like wraiths, you are being chased by a teleporting werewolf-esque creature.

Unlike in Slender staring at the Werewolf does not allow it to catch you, instead it needs to actually touch you, but also it can make smaller blink-like jumps even if you are looking at it, so it balances out. Also, unlike Slender, there is no real change in atmosphere of the game as picking up the pages does not add any extra layers of psychological-shattering sounds to the already sinister vibe the game has going AND the monster seems to be out to get you from the very start.

Comparing it to Slender might seem a bit cheap but honestly to say that it is not a game based on Slender would be to lie. However I will say that it holds up very well on it’s own and is just as tense, scary and with as many jump-scares as the original.

Like it’s precursor, Survivers is not about the subtle whenever the monster appears there is a sudden descent of red mist upon you and your friends and the werewolf gives out a horrible Ringwraith shriek which never fails to cause the bones to leap from your skin. It’s cheesy, it’s cheap and it still is completely tense and terrifying. I don’t quite understand what it is about these games which makes them quite so horrifying. Doom and Dead Space have jump-scares but these indie games just seem to hit me all that much harder. Were I to make some supposition I would say that it is partially the cliched setting which gives it a truly scary feel, that feeling that this could be any forest at night that you’ve ever walked through, the fact that this could happen to you. Also It might be that the monsters are not predictable, there doesn’t seem to be any obvious patterns to their movements and so trying to protect yourself becomes an intense guessing game. And finally, and perhaps most obviously, with no way of protecting yourself the fear that they are coming to get you is magnified because you know there is fuck all you can do about it.

Now naturally if you or your friends detest horror and scares in any shape or form then this is not for you but I do feel that otherwise there is absolutely no reason for you not to try it out (even if you don’t want to make a reaction video like we have). It’s a fun and piss fuelled 20 minutes of you and your friend’s time and afterwards you can all have a bit of a chuckle about it. Plus, if you have been looking for a game which you AND your friends can scream at together then this is pretty much ideal.

The two biggest downsides to this game (other than the difficulty finding links) are first of all actually setting up the multiplayer and requires the use of Hamachi (and even then it took me and Tim a good 15 minutes to figure out how to make it work). The other downside is that the map is really huge, possibly expecting four people working together to find the pages. I recall that by the time we finished our first attempt at the game Tim was slowly becoming a little bored of just running through the same trees, completely lost, without any sign of the pages, and worse he was becoming immune to the scares.

Next up is actually another game along similar lines to both Slender AND Survivers. The Rake is actually another internet monster, like Slender, which started off as a creepypasta and has become fairly widely spread, if not as widely spread as Slendy. Described as a long-limbed, hairless and naked human the creature also supposedly has abilities very much like Slender (the incredibly fast movement when not being looked at, the taking of people on their own and children and so on and so forth). So like Slender this game comes with a rich backstory of creeping out people on the internet for years.

The game itself, made by a guy called Mike R. is actually technically two games (so far). Using the same engine, system and gameplay mechanics there are now two maps featuring the evil creature. In both of these maps you are placed just inside the entrance, the game takes place in an old asylum and an old hostel, most of the lights are broken and so you have to explore the nearly completely dark and empty corridors of these places. In both maps you are searching for one item, a phone and some documents respectively, which supposedly will reveal more information about the Rake.

Both maps take place across one nearly empty floor of a building and both are fairly big and completely disorienting. Exploring them takes about 20 minutes during which time you can easily get completely and thoroughly lost by all the twists and turns through the dark and dingy corridors. During all this time creepy music and sounds fill the background, slowly dialling up the tension, and then all of a sudden the monster itself will appear in front of you causing a scream and sometime death.

Like Slender the monster can’t move when you are looking at it and like Survivers looking at it doesn’t make you lose, so I will say that the game is definitely easier than both Survivers AND Slender. As well as this the monster is actually fairly easy to avoid once you finally figure out the mechanic by which he kills you (I’ll leave that to you to figure out). Despite being easier the game remains absolutely terrifying, the atmosphere, using stock sounds I believe, is actually really rather well done and so you do remain tense and on edge even if you’ve just been scared by the monster. Also, even though the maps are large and you can get lost easily, it is actually perfectly plausible that you could WIN this game which makes trying it more than once fairly tempting.

Completing either map takes about 15 minutes over all and so, with a very easy to find and download game, this is definitely well worth playing if you fancy a quick and cheap scare.

If you don’t fancy playing it though you could always nip along to our Youtube channel and check out me actually trying out both maps that are currently on offer!

And finally, ANOTHER horror game unfortunately folks. I realise that perhaps this article seems a bit pointless if horror is not your thing so I promise to try and make it up to you next time. Anyway, our final offer is Pulse. I actually mentioned this a while back as well. Made by Team Pixel Pi (a group of students from the Vancouver Film School), Pulse is another indie horror game and is, like Survivers, not currently finished. While Survivers is still only in beta this game already has a complete demo available which shows only part of the full game (whether or not the full game will actually cost money is something I still don’t know).

In Pulse you play as a blind child, from some sort of tribal background, who’s brother has gone missing on some ritual and so you set off to find him. Automatically it is an intriguing idea because how on earth would you play as someone blind? The answer is simple: via a Daredevil type system where any sound causes a sort of sonar radiation allowing you to “see” your surroundings. It’s a rather nifty idea and one I was very much looking forward to trying out.

Most of the game focuses on you completing small and not really difficult puzzles with the use of little sprites (some of which you can see in the above picture). These sprites produce sound and so you can “see” them across whole maps and when thrown they light up surrounding areas (or they can be thrown/pushed onto buttons). This is the core mechanic of the game, while your footsteps do light up a small circle surrounding you, you rely on the sprites to act as your torches through an otherwise completely black and impossible to see world.

Naturally, being styled as an indie horror game, there are monsters: giant crosses between gorillas and big cats which chase you down, roaring as they do so. The monster’s are easy to see, even across the whole map, as their footsteps are loud enough to make sound so you can track them easily. Despite that getting past them remains tense and challenging because they just slightly faster than you are. Plus they eat your little sprite friends if you carelessly throw them too close.

The art style is really rather nice, a combination of squarish and sharp edged environments with cute little anime-like sprites and rather horrible looking gigantic monsters, so it’s definitely a pleasant place to be.

While I do like the Daredevil sound system, I’m not so sure about the way you can do this across the whole map. For example, sounds from monsters footsteps can be “seen” right across whole maps which makes distance sometimes a little hard to judge. I do feel that while it’s a nice idea it wasn’t done as well as it could have been because it is only too easy to get lost and disoriented in the game. As well as that it is to easy to not spot walls right in front of you as there might be a sound behind them allowing you to essentially “see” through the wall. Overall it’s a good system but I feel that there are some flaws which need to be worked out.

Unlike the other two games this one is a little bigger and took me about an hour to complete (you can check out the first video here) but it’s still worth a little look in, if only because it is made by a team of students who could have been sleeping instead! I will say I will be watching them with interest from here on.

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