Julia Miller has been dared to enter the Dobson Manor, an abandoned mansion on the outskirts of town. For as long as anyone could remember, breaking into the Manor and reaching the attic has been a rite of passage for all teenagers in town. To many the haunted estate is nothing more than an urban myth...
Unaware of the lurking shadows, Julia reaches the attic only to realize that the stories about the house are true. The shadows are alive with an unseen evil that is bound to the darkness. Julia must now escape the house without succumbing to the frightening evil waiting at the edge of the light.
Dark Corners is a game based on film and visual storytelling techniques. These theories are the cornerstone of the games design. This applies not only to the NIS sequences, but to game play as well.
In Dark Corners, the player is put into dark levels that are only lite by small bright lights. This technique utilizes the visual theory known as "frame-within-a-frame". During game play, the user can only see limited amounts of the screen at any one time, this build tension between the on screen light source and the edge of the screen. We are trying to give the player a sense of a bigger world, while only exposing bits of it visually. This keeps the player thinking there is something sinister just beyond the radius of the light.
The horror genre can be divided into two schools of thought, gore (Dawn of the Dead) and suggestion (the Blair Witch Project). Building on the "frame-within-a-frame" feature of the game, we decided to go with suggestion. This entailed characterizing the darkness as an entity itself through the use of sound and scripted sequences. The result was the player has to apply a certain amount of closure to the game play and use their own imagination to fill in the visual gaps provding the game with an unsettling nature.
"Often it's what you can't see that is scarier than what you do see"
The result of the application of these theories was an immersive experience that pushes the boundaries of what is defined as horror in the videogame genre.
When the player enters the shadows they are attacked, when they are in the light they are healed. The player must then escape the house by solving a series of environmental puzzles that unlock room. Game progression is handled by giving the player tools to combat the darkness (flashlight, flares) and putting them in situations where they must use them to survive. Along with tools that game has a linear difficulty curve mitigated by the introduction of progressive complications during game play.
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