My friends know how much I love Horror (the genre, of course) I’m always looking for films and games with innovative approaches toward the genre. If fact, back in Halloween, I had a chat with David Chateauneuf, game designer of Outlast series and we spoke for almost two hours about horror games, films and the genre in general. Check it out if you're a geek like me.
During these insane days of being stuck at home because of the Coronavirus, I found a newly released game called “The Suicide of Rachel Foster”, a horror adventure game that happens completely in an abandoned hotel. The protagonist is stuck in the hotel all by herself due to the storm outside and crazy stuff start to happen as she uncovers a dark secret behind the suicide of her friend “Rachel Foster”. This game is truly horrific and it really impressed me with its new approaches toward making a horror game, there is no monster or a jump scare but I promise that you will be scared shitless in this one.
I wanted to know more about the production of this game, so I contacted the developers at One O One Games in Italy, a country that is going through a very hard time dealing with the Coronavirus. But Daniel Azara, director of this game was very kind to answer my questions.
The Suicide of Rachel Foster is on Steam with a generous discount and I seriously can not recommend this game more.
Hamidreza Nikoofar: How are you doing during this Coronavirus crisis? How's the process of making the next game going right now? The irony of it is the fact that The Suicide of Rachel Foster is about being stuck in a hotel due to a storm outside. Looks like the reality is getting creepier than the game now!
Daniel Azara: We’re doing fine; thank you for your concern. Day-to-day operations are continuing as normal here; we’ve gradually rolled out safety measures in accordance with government-issued recommendations and are gradually moving towards smart working to ensure the best safety for the team. We’ve prepared thoroughly to make this shift without influencing productivity. We’ll be making an official announcement on our social media accounts.
Hamidreza Nikoofar: I love The Suicide of Rachel Foster. One important factor for me was the fact that this game is not unnecessarily long. It ended exactly at a time that it should and this is becoming very rare in the industry. Some games are too long, some too small on the content. When do you think is the perfect time for a game to be finished?
Daniel Azara: I think more about time, the factor to focus on here is engagement. In an ideal world, a game would finish just as a player’s appetite for more finishes and just before they lose interest; but finding that sweet spot can be very difficult.
Hamidreza Nikoofar: One of the obvious influences on this game is Stanley Kubrick's The Shining. (The carpet was a nice touch by the way) And it was very exciting to see how well you used Kubrik's techniques to add horror elements to the game. Use of subliminal and psychological events to trigger some sort of uncertainty in players and making him/her doubt everything, story-wise and visually. Talk about that process.
Daniel Azara: You kind of answered your own question, LOL. Yes, Kubrick was a big influence from the very start. We wanted to focus exclusively on those psychological elements, creating a longer lasting sense of unease within the player given the topics affronted and the dark atmosphere, instead of using the classic horror elements like jump scares and monsters. In this way, players scare themselves, and the horror is all internal. They are frightened by their expectations and paradigms rather than by the actual game, which is very interesting to us because it shows that engagement isn’t always directly linked to in-game mechanics, and that the design process can expand outside of the game itself.
Hamidreza Nikoofar: The architecture and the whole design of the hotel are so realistic and yet so fun to walk around. Was it based on somewhere real or is it completely fictional? Talk about the design of the hotel, please.
Daniel Azara: The hotel is fictional, but our Art director (who comes from architecture and production design, by the way) and Level designer conducted a thorough architectural study of many different hotels before creating the floor plan for the Timberline. We studied everything imaginable to make the environment as realistic as possible, even the correct placement of outlets on walls.
Hamidreza Nikoofar: I am a sound designer and composer and I have to say this game is setting a new bar in the audio department. Details are crazy and the use of binaural sounds made me jump out of my seat over and over. Tell me about making the audio so visceral in this game.
Daniel Azara: Thanks! Our sound designer was very present throughout the entire design process, and spent an incredible amount of time working together with designers and playtesters to identify the best locations for certain sounds, the best sounds to achieve certain effects, etc… He did a really incredible job! The addition of the binaural “audio jumpscares” is the cherry on top of the cake. We would have loved have exploited the binaural audio more, but the limited amount of time to develop the game didn’t allow this, unfortunately.
Hamidreza Nikoofar: Voice actors did a fantastic job, I've already told Kosha Engler about her great work that I believe is the main bridge to connect the player to the story. How was working with the voice actors?
Daniel Azara: Working with the voice actors was so much fun for everyone. We all got together remotely and just had a good time. It was like directing a movie, and we all really empathized with the content; I think you can feel that in the game as well. A little detail to be added in order to let you fully understand how much we all felt the story: At a certain point near the end of the game we were all crying together with the actors and dialogues director, both in Rome and London.
Hamidreza Nikoofar: The Suicide of Rachel Foster instantly made me a fan of One O One Games. What's next from you guys and what are your visions for the future of the company?
Daniel Azara: The future of the company is bright, we just signed a big publishing deal, and we hope to soon become a strong indie name in the gaming industry. We’re currently working on a new project that will be much bigger in scale compared to TSoRF, different genre, but still featuring a strong and mature story and an outstanding female protagonist; fans can follow us for updates on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram where we’ll post updates throughout development.
Hamidreza Nikoofar: Thank you very much for this great game and I can't wait to play your next project. Please stay safe!
Daniel Azara: Thank you! You too.