The Huntsman Comes Calling
Hunstman: The Orphanage is another first-person indie horror title designed to make you wonder why you do this to yourself.
If you're not yet tired of dark rooms, tormented souls, crappy flashlights and being scared stupid by things that may or may not actually be there, then allow me to introduce you to Huntsman: The Orphange, an in-the-works horror game being developed by indie studio (and family of four) ShadowShifters. The game is up for voting on Steam Greenlight and seems to be doing very well for itself, hitting number 11 in the top 100 earlier this week.
Huntsman actually begin life as yet another Slender Man project, but the team changed things up after "Victor Surge" sold the rights to the property to an as-yet-unnamed third party. ShadowShifters Director Dene Waring said Valve contacted the studio with concerns about the IP rights and rather than end up like the Greenlight-topping Faceless project, which appears trapped in some kind of licensing limbo, the decision was made to replace the Slender Man with a brand new character: the timeless, dimension-traveling Huntsman.
There are some obvious similarities but Waring said the studio is working to set the Huntsman apart. "He is a manifestation of sorrow and loss that came to be in our dimension through the overpowering disruptive force of the first wave of the Black Death," Waring said. "He thrived on the grief of the many orphans left lost and alone in that apocalypse, and preyed upon the emotional energy of these newly destitute children. Taking on the guise of a Plague Doctor, masked and cloaked to protect him from being identified as a creature of another realm, he moved freely throughout the Europe of the Dark ages." And while he travels between dimensions at will, he has returned over the centuries during moments of great sorrow to abduct children and feed on their grief.
The studio had already created new story material and a dozen original characters for the game, which Waring said simplified the transition to a new character. Even so, he acknowledged that not everyone will be happy with the change. "I am very aware that we won't be able to please all the people all the time, and we don't intend to try," he said. "We can only go about the business of creating a story we have a strong vision of, that we believe in and enjoy ourselves, and then hope that the finished result appeals to some of the people some of the time."
The elements on display in the first promotional trailer aren't the most original, but that doesn't mean they won't be effective. If the team can pull together an interesting story, good level design and solid performances from the live-action actors, Hunstman: The Orphange could be very good indeed. And that means more nights spent hunched over the keyboard with a death-grip on the mouse, hiding from who-knows-what and wondering why - why? - we do these things to ourselves.
You can learn about the Huntsman and his first game at shadowshifters.com, and if you like what you see, vote to get it on Steam at Steam Greenlight.