Feature: Amnesia: The Dark Descent was a massive success for Frictional Games. We talk to studio head Thomas Grip about all things horror, their next game, and what it’s like being a publisher for the first time.
Frictional Games’ first take on the horror genre arrived in 2006 with Penumbra: Overture. Mixing physics based puzzles with first-person adventure, Penumbra evolved through a series of iterations into the success that was Amnesia: The Dark Descent, stripping away all weapons and turning horror into a game of hide-and-seek.
Amensia has been scaring people all over the world for two years, and strong sales have provided Frictional Games with the security to not only develop a new game, but to also publish one. Studio head Thomas Grip does’t feel that their work is done, though, believing the horror genre can still evolve by keeping the fear, but adding meaning and thought to every decision.
Another step forward into darkness
Even though Amnesia was a huge success, Grip believes that they can still progress the horror genre so much further. The main intent with Amnesia was creating a scary atmosphere: there was no deeper meaning to a lot of what was placed in front of the player, and that’s something they’re hoping to address in the next game, offering a meaningful experience that goes beyond just fear.
“For our next game, we want to have more thought behind everything that happens, and tie things together so if the player thinks some more about it, it will take things a step further. So we want these extra layers to the gameplay that will really get below the skin of the player,” he said. ”It is also about bringing up certain subjects that make the player think about things they normally would not.”
Telltale’s The Walking Dead is a good example of dropping the player into a horrific scenario and making them think more about the significance of their actions, but Grip explained how it just doesn’t work the same for first-person games due to the change in perspective and how the player feels intimately involved with whoever they are controlling. For their next game they want to try to capture the impact that The Walking Dead has on a player’s emotions, but they want to introduce it in a much different way that will drop the player directly into everything.
Grip is also not a fan of how every game released has core concepts that could be enjoyed by his ‘ten-year old self”, and believes that there needs to be more diverse experiences that cater to adults in the videogame industry. “Take just about any big game release and the core concepts of that game is something that a ten-year old can enjoy.
“This means that just about any games that I can enjoy today would also have been enjoyed by my ten-year-old self. But when you look at film, movies, music, etc there are tons of stuff which I like today that my ten-year-old self would not. Sure, there might be some stuff in games that I can enjoy more now that I am older, but this is almost always a minor part of the experience, like a Pixar movie,” Grip said. “There is nothing wrong with having games that are ageless. But when just about every game released is like this, I think it is a sign that something is wrong.”