by Joseph Leray
I don’t really do horror games, to be honest. The good ones freak me out — and I don’t like to be scared, as a general rule — and the campy, gory slashers are fun, but ultimately kind of unfulfilling. Yet here I am, posting a trailer for Lunar Software’s “Routine,” the latest entry in a genre experiencing a sort of Renaissance.
There’s something about the range of horror games that appeals to me, even if I don’t end up playing many of them. The genre encompasses a wide breadth of setting, mood, and tone, and the most interesting things are coming from small developers pushing the envelope on how to scare, creep out, mortify, disturb, unnerve, and bother people.
Zombie Studios’ “Daylight” and Red Barrels “Outlast” both take place in asylums, but one is a procedural exploration game about psychological trauma and the other is a more straightforward investigation of an abandoned MK Ultra lab infested with zombies. Thechineseroom’s “Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs” is Victorian-era body horror, while Dascu Maru’s “Malebolgia” is more evocative of a cel-shaded Inquisition.
On to “Routine” then, a permadeath exploration game set in an abandoned moon base. As you can see in the video above — dubbed an “alpha gameplay trailer” by Lunar — “Routine” applies sleek modernism equally to its environments and UI. There’s no HUD or life meter, only locked doors, CRT monitors, hacked computer terminals, and 80’s-era floppy discs. There’s something about those clean hallways splattered in blood that highlights the appeal of sci-fi horror.
“Routine” is set for later this year on Steam with — get this — Occulus Rift support, according to the various logos at the end of the trailer.
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Joseph Leray is a freelance writer from Nashville. Follow him on Twitter