Hands on with Hysteria Project for iPhone
Alone in the woods
If Zen Bound proved anything, it’s that the iPhone needs to keep the innovation coming if it wants to stay in the lead. It can’t survive on continuous conversions of old mobile games, and it has plenty of strengths - namely its iPod heritage - that have gone mostly unexplored, despite the massive number of games now available.
So we’ve been watching Bulkypix’s debut game Hysteria Project with the highest of expectations. The ex-Vivendi Mobile team have sent us some exclusive preview code to follow on from the interview we held recently with the French developers, and this appears to be exactly the kind of innovation we were talking about.
Hysteria Project can be compared to quite a few different gaming styles, but combines them all so closely that it quickly carves its own unique niche. Probably its closest living relative is the old coin-op laser disk games from the early '80s, like Space Ace and Dragon’s Lair.
It’s built up of small video vignettes, interspersed with user interactions to turn it from a film into a game. But anyone who’s played Space Ace will recall that those interactions were incredibly sparse, and that’s not something Hysteria Project can be accused of.
The cinematography immediately grabs you by the eyeballs and refuses to let go. Viewed entirely from the first person perspective, it sees you wake in a small shack, bound and confused. Right from this first moment, your in-game decisions begin to affect the character’s life.
Do you struggle to hunt around the shack looking for a sharp object, or do you wrestle against the duct tape and hope you can break free before your mysterious captor returns?
These are the kinds of decisions that are constantly thrown at you. Out in the ominous woodland, the sense of being the hunted is superbly palpable.
The amazingly atmospheric audio accompaniment captures the tension of being stalked (by the way - take the game’s advice and wear ear phones. Also, play it in the dark).
Do you remain in hiding, or do you try to creep through the underbrush and find a better hiding place? It’s here where another gameplay mechanic comes into action. Similar in vein to the quick time play popularised in God of War, symbols appear on the screen in accordance with the video.
Creeping through the woodland, you’re required to touch the branches and obstacles to move them out of the way and avoid attracting the attention of your murderous stalker, or to fend off a knife attack through a gap in the doorway you’re desperately attempting to barricade yourself behind.
Miss, and your cover is blown, the trip wire activated or the flashing knife set free.
This is a horror/survival game that doesn’t rely on cheap scares, gore or ridiculously powerful antagonists. A glimpse of the axe wielding psycho out of the corner of your eye before you run for it is more than enough to set the mood.Hysteria Project is currently going through the App Store submissions process, so we’re definitely psyched to see how this wonderfully innovative new game style performs in full. Keep an eye out for our imminent review. It could save your life.