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Survival Horror on a Cruise Ship

Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw | 21 Feb 2012 12:00
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Resident Evil Revelations is (arguably) a survival horror game set in the near future on an abandoned cruise liner. It reminded me of a game idea I had a few years back, because it was a survival horror game set in the near future on an abandoned cruise liner. I will now tell you about my idea for a survival horror game set in the near future on an abandoned cruise liner.

The choice of setting was down to my feeling that ships at sea, with their isolated setting and cramped internal environments, are a natural setting for survival horror. While there have been many games with sections on ships, they tend to more commonly be military or merchant ships, not that different to the endemic industrial environments games throw us into all the time. A luxury ship, with its once opulent trappings brought to ruin and decay by its residents giving into their base instincts, would create a nice juxtaposition of horror against a warm, welcoming environment. Bioshock and to a lesser extent Dead Space 2 would go on to do this sort of thing quite effectively.

Also, when I took my Pacific cruise a year or two back, I remember being fascinated by the hallway just outside my cabin door. It was incredibly narrow with a low ceiling but extended from one end of the ship to the other, so you could stand right in the middle and it would seem to stretch infinitely in both directions, a regular pattern of doors, carpet and ceiling lights. It somewhat reminded me of how the hotel interiors were shot in Stanley Kubrick's The Shining, and the potential for scares and atmosphere building hung thickly in the air.

Why specifically in the near future, though? Well, be patient and I'll explain. For some reason or another the main character finds himself on an abandoned cruise liner adrift in the middle of the sea. In my original script he got blown off course during a round the world sailing competition and boarded the ship to seek help, but it doesn't really matter. The game starts in first person perspective, and our hero possesses a heads up display because he is a cyberpunk with a neural interface chip in his brain that overlays information about his physical wellbeing and immediate environment onto the sensory input received by his optic nerves. With me so far? He sees computer words because of the clever clogs science gadget in his noggin-woggin.

He (or she, again it hardly matters) soon discovers that an eerie silence hangs over the deserted interior of the ship, and while exploring (s)he decides the best thing to do would be to find a terminal, connect to the ship's internal network, and try to figure out what the hell happened. But when they find one, there's some kind of power surge and the monitor explodes in his/her face.

With broken glass getting a little too intimate with your retinas, you (I'm going to talk about the character in the second person now to help you immerse yourself) are now blind, although your HUD remains (since it's overlaid in the brain, bypassing the optic nerves), the medical output cheerily explaining that your eyeballs appear to have exploded. With the prosthetics of the cybertech future this won't be a problem if you can get to a hospital, but that doesn't help you much in an abandoned cruise liner.

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