Derange #1: A New (Old) Nightmare

That is not dead which can eternal lie, And with strange aeons even death may die.

This is the first in a series of dev blogs about our new upcoming horror game, Derange. This will be an semi-regular series detailing aspects of the game’s development, design choices, notable features and other things I think are pretty cool leading up to release. Like previous dev blog series, such as the one for Mythos: The Beginning I plan for these posts to be relatively in depth, describing how the game plays and how certain features work in pretty exhaustive detail. As such, if you don’t want to be spoiled on the finer points of how Derange plays or some elements of its storyline, you might want to stick to my Facebook or Twitter posts. You have been warned.

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So, what is Derange, exactly? It’s a retro (ie. Playstation 1 era) style survival horror game inspired by the original Resident Evil and John Carpenter’s “Apocalypse trilogy” of films (that is, The Thing, Prince of Darkness and In the Mouth of Madness). Playing as either college student Jessica Kessler or software engineer Nathan Romero, your mission is to investigate the disappearance of your friend Dr. Edwin Prestor, whose last known correspondence has brought you to a seemingly abandoned New England manor. When you arrive, you find the estate’s inhabitants transformed into creatures that are no longer human, and you’ll have to discover the source of the horror to survive.

If you’re a survival horror fan, you probably know the deal by now: explore the creepy mansion, gather supplies, ammo and keys and solve the odd puzzle while evading monsters that can outnumber and overpower you. It’s a pretty standard setup for your typical late 90s survival horror game, but it’s something that’s never really been translated to the RPG Maker engine. It’s a formula that’s close to my heart and the main goal with Derange is to provide the closest approximation of the genre possible. The objective is to create what essentially feels like a 2D Resident Evil game, complete with all the trappings: scarce ammo, horrifying monsters, inventory management and limited saves (a future devblog will go into detail about how all of these things will work).

Making a worthy successor to the classics of survival horror is something I’ve attempted before with the One Night series and with Mythos: The Beginning, but have never actually pulled off in a way I felt truly captured that experience. In that sense, Derange can also be considered something of a followup to those games. It certainly shares similarities with those games, at least thematically, but my design goals are a little different this time. Where Mythos was an experiment at combining an RPG with survival horror elements, Derange is a straight survival horror game. And where One Night attempted to hearken back to the survival horror games of old but ended up only meeting them halfway (no inventory management, clunky turn based RPG style combat, obviously repurposed stock RPG Maker menu screens etc.), Derange aims to do the concept justice.

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Long story short: survival horror has moved on from the 90s, and they just don’t make games like this anymore. Derange is a die-hard fan’s love letter to the genre. I want to make a time capsule representing everything I loved about those games (and, by extension, everything that worked well in my previous attempts at the genre) – something familiar, shaken up a little and repackaged for a new generation.

Next time: how Derange captures the essence of a traditional survival horror game.

About dgrixti

Indie game developer and writer. Founder of Dark Gaia Studios and creator of Legionwood, One Night and Mythos: The Beginning.
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