As a devout horror fan, the trailer for The Blackout Club had me hooked. And after a quick glance at the past work of the people making it - BioShock 2, Dishonored, BioShock Infinite, Prey - I was ready to hand over my dog as a pre-order payment. The Blackout Club is a cooperative PS4, Xbox One, and PC title, and it's all about teenage survival, spooky tunnels, and treacherous tunes.
"It felt like there was something untapped; a systems-driven, cooperative horror game that brings the horror genre home," says Jordan Thomas, co-founder of The Blackout Club's development studio Question. "By that I mean: return it to a place of disempowered and vulnerable protagonists, who band together against an overwhelming threat."
The game sees a group of teenagers fighting to save their town from a sinister outbreak of sleepwalking and blackouts, eventually discovering what dark secrets stalk the network of tunnels beneath their hometown. "Whether it's Stranger Things, or much further back with The Goonies, all the way to my personal favorite It Follows, that notion of 'teens versus monsters,' everyone has their favorite example of that genre," says Thomas. "We felt there was something there that deserved to be given an honest go in the game space."
In a nod to the horror games of old, the tense gameplay will be more about sneaking around the dark town and avoiding enemies, rather than taking them down with shotguns and grenades.
"We wanted The Blackout Club to bring back to life that feeling that you are vulnerable, you are desperate, you are a teenager who can't physically overpower the enemies in the game at all. You have to leap on their backs and steer them around, but on a very temporary basis, before you run out of stamina and have to retreat," says Thomas.
Question isn't revealing too much about the nature of the enemies you'll encounter, but the strange music you'll hear in the trailer is a major clue. Thomas referred to "the great instrument" when asked about that very significant sound.
"I don't want to spoil too much about it, but suffice to say that under this recognizable modern suburban town where the kids live, are these great, labyrinthine tunnels that have been handcrafted by sleepwalkers," he says. "It is, in fact, a giant musical instrument. Its exact purpose is the stuff of the deep lore of the game, but the idea that a horror soundtrack - a Halloween or Jaws-like theme - might be borne out of the actual game environment, has a great attraction for me."