Beware – An Upcoming Indie Horror Game About a Lone Driver and a Lost Babushka
The horror game market is becoming oversaturated with games that offer cheap and unimaginative scares. The lack of creativity and innovations by the developers resulted in most modern horror titles heavily relaying on jumpscares and music spikes in order to startle the players, rather than on scenarios and environments that evoke dread and fear.
As a big fan of horror games, I believe that there are certain requirements that every horror game needs to fulfill in order to earn the epitome of being scary.
First, the game needs to be set in an environment that is going to make you feel lonely and unprotected. Being isolated from the rest of the world and knowing that help is far away, makes the player vulnerable and more observant to things around him which drastically adds to the game’s immersion.
Second, the main character needs to be at a great disadvantage against whatever is out there. Having an experienced and trained soldier in the main role can be fun, but it is much scarier being a ordinary folk stuck in a extraordinary scenario. This kind of concept brings the protagonist closer to the regular players, testing their resolve and ingenuity throughout the gameplay. Besides that, knowing that you are weaker than your opponent prevents you from going in guns blazing, making every encounter intense and more difficult.
Third, the storyline has to be non-existing or make absolutely no sense in the beginning. Antoine De Saint-Exupery said ''Only the unknown frightens men'', so being kept in the dark and not knowing who you are, how you got there or what’s ahead of you makes you theorize what is actually happening, thus creating a more engaging and suspenseful gameplay.
As many modern horror games simply ignore these and enforce loud music and scary faces appearing in a split second, I was pleasantly surprised when few days ago I came across Beware, a demo of an upcoming indie game that managed to quickly meet all the requirements from above.
Beware is a very unique game and can be considered a pioneer of a new genre - horror driving simulators. It is being singlehandedly developed by Ondrej Svadlena, and is currently running on the Unity engine, with car physics and movement being based on the CarX engine.
Beware is very early in development, so do not let the main menu looks putt you off.
As mentioned above, Beware is a game about driving and exploration of an abandoned Soviet camping grounds, the nearby forest and the surrounding countryside. The players are not given any backstory and no indication of who they are or what they are doing there, so unless you go over the readme file you get with the download, you won’t even know that there is a hidden mission that needs to be discovered by using ''logical thinking and intuition''.
The game starts out on the camping grounds, with players put in the role of a driver whose car is in between a dozen of abandoned RVs. The foggy weather combined with the silence of the night and lack of any street lightening make the atmosphere very eerie, and turning on the car’s headlights doesn’t do much except show that the road ahead is muddy, slippery and filled with potholes. From that point on players are free to go wherever they please, but expect the ride to be a bumpy one due to the condition of the roads, with frequent instances of getting stuck in the mud, crashing and skidding even when driving on asphalt.
Abandoned RVs, ruined store and one of the roads in the starting area.
I do not want to spoil too much, but soon after the beginning of the game, there is a good chance that your car might be spotted, resulting in a pursuit between you and four gentlemen with wobbly heads. The pursuing car will be faster and have much better traction than your old tin can, and the driver will be aggressive and constantly try to run you off the road. As such, players would need to turn off their headlights and use skillful maneuvering and side roads in hopes of escaping. If you fail and your car gets boxed in or stuck in the mud, the pale-faced-head-shaking-oversized gentleman are going to leave their car, point their flashlights at your mirrors blinding you completely and break into your car, following which a black screen will simply say ''Death''. If you do manage to escape your pursuers, you can keep on exploring in hopes of finding the hidden mission.
I downloaded Beware two days ago, so I still haven’t discovered everything, but so far, I came across an abandoned town that is littered with trash and broken cars, a factory (or at least I think it is) that is surrounded by huge platforms that look like offshore oil rigs and the most interesting discovery, a lone creepy looking babushka that flagged me down in the middle of the woods. She did, however, start running away as soon as I stopped, so I believe she is a part of the hidden mission, but my attempts to follow her have so far been unsuccessful as I kept getting stuck in the mud and losing her. I am not giving up on her though, and will continue my search again as I am very interested as to where she might lead me.
Unknown figure in the window, ensuing chase and the close up of the wobbly head gents.
From everything described above, Beware is definitely on a path of becoming an excellent horror game. It clearly satisfies all my personal horror requirements as it is set in Russian forest at night with no help in sight, there is no backstory and no indication of what is happening, and your character is at great disadvantage as he has to drive down the slippery roads in a car with the worst traction in history, while your enemies drive a Lada with suspension and control of a Mercedes McLaren. Bad roads and controls make every chase nerve breaking and tense, while exploration of foggy forests and abandoned towns is bone chilling and eerie. As such, Beware is a perfect example that sudden spikes in music volume and appearance of scary faces is not needed to make a game scary, but that unsettling environment and a scenario which resembles real life and in which all of us can find ourselves is more than enough.
Beware has some hiccups of course, but it wouldn’t be fair to go into those, as this only a free demo and the game is being developed by only one person (for which Ondrej gets all the kudos in the world). Worthy of note is that the game looks excellent on the Unity engine and that the light and glare effects are some of the best ever. Besides that, there are is also some wonderful piano scores which were composed specifically for this game, and which greatly enhances the in-game chases and the encounters.
Overall, Beware is must try for any horror fans. If fully developed, it has a great potential to become an excellent horror game and maybe even a pioneer of a new horror genre.
Bonus picture of the lost babushka:
Edited by EchelonBrk