Game developer Matt Gilgenbach likes to dwell in dreams. His 2014 game Neverending Nightmares was a psychological horror about mental illness told in the disconnected chapters of a dark nightmare. Rendered in a pencil scratch aesthetic, it required players to wander around the ever-shifting landscape of a sadness-soaked home. It was heavy stuff, and a direct result of Gilgenbach’s own struggle with depression. But it made for a compelling, deeply affecting experience. The things that went bump in the night were resounding.
Gilgenbach’s latest, Devastated Dreams, is up for funding on Kickstarter. A psychological horror for Mac, Linux and Windows, it uses a charcoal-smudged black and white aesthetic, and puts players in control of a possibly expectant mother roaming around the rural Philippines. Much of the game appears to take place at night, with a flashlight illuminating the crevices of the inky dream world. Filipino folklore plays a main role in the story, especially the aswang, a fearsome werewolf-esque creature that feasts on unborn children. You must wander; you must run.
Much like Neverending Nightmares, Gilgenbach says the new game unfolds as a series of “seemingly unconnected dreams and nightmares.” There will be puzzles to solve, enemies to avoid and lots of atmosphere to soak up; the narrator may or not be reliable, and the experiences the dreamer has may or may not be real.
Yet if the trailer is any indication, the skin-tightening sense of terror will be all too authentic.