After seeing this Dead Space and Alien Isolation-inspired multiplayer survival FPS in action, I can finally move on from Friday the 13th: The Game's undeserved death

Friday the 13th: The Game didn't deserve this. In nine months, its servers will be permanently shut down after a bitter legal dispute which the game itself had little to do with. Publisher Gun Media has moved on to its Texas Chain Saw Massacre slaughter fest, which is fun enough but didn't capture my black heart quite like Jason Voorhees and his teenaged victims did back in 2017. However, there's a new game on the horizon that could very well fill the machete-shaped hole in my heart.

Level Zero: Extraction is a brand new asymmetrical horror game from Ukrainian studio DogHowl Games that's launching into Steam Early Access in 2024, with a closed beta starting March 15. I had the chance to see it in action during a recent preview event, and let me just say right at the top: the vibes are immaculate.

Early on in the presentation, DogHowl Games listed both Dead Space and Alien Isolation, two of the finest sci-fi horror games to ever release, as heavy inspirations for Level Zero: Extraction. And while I haven't yet had the chance to actually play the game, the footage I saw strongly suggests DogHowl isn't just talking the talk, it's also walking the walk.

(Image credit: tinyBuild)

On paper, Level Zero: Extraction is a hybrid of 2v9 asymmetrical horror and extraction shooter, featuring "high-stakes PvPvE battles" between three teams of humans and a pair of killer aliens. A compelling enough premise, but much more exciting is its potential as a multiplayer horror game that puts the emphasis on scares. 

For me, recent asymmetrical horror games simply aren't very scary, the ill-fated Friday the 13th game being the exception. The aforementioned Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Evil Dead: The Game, and even the venerable Dead by Daylight each offer their own unique spins on the genre, but for my money, they also give the survivors too much power to fight back, eliminating so much of the tension, dread, and ultimately, thrills. There's also something to be said for Friday the 13th: The Game's truly unsettling atmosphere, which heavily relied on music from the film series to ramp up the tension in all of the right places.

Level Zero: Extraction is the first new asymmetrical horror gave I've seen since Friday the 13th that actually makes horror the focus. Built in Unreal Engine 5, the maps are dark, but not so dark that you can't see the immense detail and disconcerting smears of blood accompanied by the horrific cries of a nearby monster.

The creature design is also top-tier, making encounters with aliens genuinely terrifying. And even the gameplay seems purpose-built to scare the pants off the human side, as they'll need to use precious few light sources strewn across the map to fight back against aliens, in doing so revealing their locations to other human players who will inevitably be tempted to steal their loot using deadly force.

Level Zero: Extraction

(Image credit: tinyBuild)

The setup is simple but serviceable, tasking humans with extracting research data from a hostile foreign planet that was once host to military experiments cross-breeding the human genome with alien DNA. If you're part of the human crew, which can include up to nine players, your job is to secure loot and make it back to the extraction point without becoming alien food, and if you're part of the two-player killer crew, your objective is to eliminate all humans with your cool alien powers.

I'm usually less excited to play the killers in these types of games, just because there usually isn't as much meat to the gameplay, but Level Zero's aliens have a bunch of abilities that should go some way to diversify the experience a little. You can go invisible to sneak around, spit acid, set up live traps, scan for heartbeats, crawl through vents, and more.

Humans, on the other hand, are armed with rifles, shotguns, flamethrowers, nail guns, pistols, grenades, mines, motion sensors, traps, remote controls, flares, hammers, machetes, and while you'd think that'd be more than enough to take down an alien, the only thing that can kill the creatures is light. And since friendly fire is a thing, illuminating yourself for all to see won't always be the wisest choice. It's a good thing you'll have the aforementioned arsenal of weapons to fight back against threats both human and alien.

Level Zero: Extraction

(Image credit: tinyBuild)

I haven't seen nearly enough to say with confidence whether a game with so many moving parts, from the gunplay and melee mechanics, to the loot system and progression system, to matchmaking and so on, will result in a cohesive, failsafe whole, but my very early impression is that it looks ambitious and scary as hell. With Friday the 13th: The Game left at the bottom of Crystal Lake like Jason Voorhees but with less of a chance of re-emerging, another horror-focused entry in this still-young space is a welcome thing in my books.

Check out the best horror games to scare yourself silly with right now 

Jordan Gerblick

After scoring a degree in English from ASU, I worked as a copy editor while freelancing for places like SFX Magazine, Screen Rant, Game Revolution, and MMORPG on the side. Now, as GamesRadar's west coast Staff Writer, I'm responsible for managing the site's western regional executive branch, AKA my apartment, and writing about whatever horror game I'm too afraid to finish.