Full disclosure: I hate games where I don’t have any power. The idea of not having a weapon or not being able to defend myself and destroy my enemies don’t intrigue me. I play games to escape my human fleshy form where the rule of law prevents me from wreaking havoc on my enemies. So, when I first saw Stifled I was hesitant to play and if not for the immediate intrigue of and of course crippling self-masochism.
Stifled, the VR horror game by Gattai Games was a truly surreal experience from the instant you put on the VR headset.
You start the demo just outside of an overturned car and you’re immediately sucked into the environment as nothing looks “realistic”. The game is entirely designed in lines and almost looks like an incomplete game of 3D mesh art. For me, this game seemed no longer scary since it’s all lines, right? WRONG.
As soon as you take the first step, you start realizing that there’s not much that you can see. That’s when you get the prompt that you need to make noise. Needless to say yelling “hello” constantly in the middle of PSX wasn’t great so you can also press the right trigger to have your character say something or a cough depending on how “loud” you want to sound. How loud you are determine how big your field of vision can expand. Great, an echolocation horror game.
So, you, a lamer version of Daredevil, are now stumbling around the place trying to find a girl named Rose which Justin Ng, Co-Founder of Gattai Games, says to “play the game” to figure out who she is and what she means to the story.
This is where the horror comes in. Despite how simple the game is visually, the fact that all your other senses are heightened dampen that feeling of security that you had with it being a “simple” looking game and now everything in your path can potentially be your end. Your heart (both in game and in real life) beats faster as you continue moving forward.
You then have to go into a creepy abandoned sewer. Fantastic. And now, all your sounds are amplified and you start hearing distant bloodcurling screams. Welp, it was fun, thanks all! …but something continued to compel me to go forward. And I kept going. And uncovered more and more until you see a crudely drawn demon baby running behind a wall screaming and red lines from the screams jumping at you. It can’t touch you and all it does is scream that hair raising scream. Then you move forward a little more…and then you fall into the depths of the sewer before crashing and that demon baby thing is no longer behind the wall…Oh. Hell. No. Demo end.
This game initially began as a school project for Justin which he has developed further with his team of 6 at Gattai Games based in Singapore. For him, he was excited to build upon this idea and that excitement eventually brought Sony to their doors. Gattai Games is now one of Sony’s Tier 2 partner which saw them being one of the indie games featured at PSX in Kuala Lumpur earlier this month. For Justin’s Singaporean team and the first studio in Southeast Asia to have this opportunity, it was a great honor and an excellent opportunity to innovate further.
Will there be more Stifled in the future? Justin has promised that unless it can be something that can truly add more to the experience and make it different, there won’t be a sequel. Gattai Games is certainly a studio that we will be keeping an eye on in the future as we look to see what their next experiential game will be.