Genre: Survival/Horror, VR
Engine: Unreal Engine 4
Production Time: 4 weeks
Role: Level Design, Audio Design
Production Team Size: 11 People
A Glass Darkly is a VR Survival/Horror game in which players find themselves trapped in an abandoned hotel where an evil creature lurks. Not only must players avoid being seen by the creature, but they cannot look at it as it will feel their gaze and be alerted to their presence. In order to survive, players must navigate through the rooms and corridors of the hotel using a hand mirror to look around corners and survey their surroundings.
A Glass Darkly was created for Futuregames Game Project 2 and was made by 11 people over the course of 4 weeks. Our goal was to create a tense and terrifying experience without relying on jumpscares.
- Puzzle Solving
One of mankind’s most primal fears is the fear of the unknown. A Glass Darkly was designed to let players know where they should go but not how to get there. Exploring an alien and hostile environment where the creature might pop up at any time adds a sense of urgency and tension. You might be scared of what lurks around the corner, but staying too long in a single place might be just as bad!
Each area is designed with at least one of the core pillars in mind. Exploring the environment adds to the overall sense of tension while the puzzles serve to break up the pacing and usually give the player a short breather. The confrontation segments are all designed in a way that makes the player perceive them to be more dangerous than they actually are such as forcing the creature to patrol in certain patterns that will force the player into a safe area.
The end goal was an overhanging sense of dread and tension that ramps up along with the actual danger over the course of the game rather than quick and sudden jumpscares.
Goal: Teach the player the basic mechanics in a safe environment before letting them wander off on their own.
The phone starts ringing shortly after the game starts and when the player picks it up, a woman on the other side tells them of the monster and asks them to find a mirror in another room as players cannot look at it directly. The door is locked, but the woman on the phone explains there’s a key in the drawer that will open it. Even if the player isn’t listening to the audio, a picture of the Occulus controller will appear above the phone, the drawer and the door handle, urging the player to press specific buttons to operate them in order to leave the room.
Once they have left the room, players will have learned how to operate drawers, doors, pick up objects, search for clues and pick up key items. If they already know all these things, it is possible to go straight for the key and leave the room without answering the phone and listening to the message.
Goal: Introduce the monster without putting the player at risk and foreshadow the use of the hand mirror.
As the player turns the corner, the monster suddenly comes through one of the doors and walks down the corridor before stopping and entering another room.
The monster is scripted not to see the player in this instance as there are a lot of objects in this part of the corridor, partially obscuring the player from view. It walks down the corridor in a straight line, knocks on one of the doors and enters it, leaving the door ajar behind it. The entire sequence can be tracked using the mirror in the hallway even when the monster is out of view, showcasing the monster’s behavior and introducing the use of mirrors.
All the doors in the corridor are locked, save for the one the monster left open, guiding the player and putting them on edge as they are forced to follow it.
The player enters through the door on the left and attempts to leave through the door on the right. The door is locked and as players approach it, the monster enters the room.
Goal: Force the player into the monster’s path but give them a fair chance to escape. The perceived danger should be much higher than the actual danger.
As players enter through the left door, the door at the bottom is locked with a hatch from the other side, forcing them towards the door on the right. The top room has a dividing wall, but it has holes in it and the other side of the room can be seen through it. The monster will make noise as it enters the room and it can be seen through these holes, but cannot see the player. It lazily walks around the room, giving the player plenty of time to escape, unlocks the door on the right that the player couldn’t open and then leaves the room.
The player is forced to escape into the bedroom at the bottom and can either peek through the door using the mirror, or unlock the bottom left door using the hatch and then observer the monster through the holes in the wall divider as it leaves.
It’s a simple sequence, but to the player it will feel like they narrowly escaped the monster as it searched for them.
Once again, the monster leaves the door ajar and the player is forced to follow in it’s footsteps to make progress.
This room is divided by a wall made out of an ornamental shelf. The next door is clearly visible and lit up straight ahead, but it turns out to be locked. As the player grabs it, the monster will wander into the room from the door behind them. While the monster can be seen through the shelf, it cannot clearly see the player yet.
The player can escape into the next room and walk back to where the monster appeared from by unlocking the door. The monster merely unlocks the exit and leaves the room with the door left wide open for the player to follow once again.
Following the sound of the phone, players will notice that a door they passed just moments ago is suddenly standing ajar, raising suspicion and beckoning the player to enter.
Picking up the phone on the cupboard initializes another conversation with the woman from the previous call. She informs the player that the elevator can be turned on using a key usually stored beyond the library ahead.
Another puzzle presents itself. The library is locked and the key is stored in a safe. The combination can be found in the room on the right, but it is inaccessible due to furniture having fallen over and blocking the door. The code can still be reached by using the mirror to look behind the furniture. A gramophone player keeps playing in the room, right next to the note in order to grab the player’s attention and lure them to the note.
Corridor leading to the library. A quick breather before the next encounter.
The library is one of the largest rooms in the game. The monster patrols back and forth and the player has to use the mirror to observe it’s path and time their movement in order to avoid being caught. There are plenty of blind angles though, forcing the player to keep their eyes and ears open for movements and sound ques.
Beyond the library lies a small room with the elevator key. As players enter, the monster leaves the library and leaves the door to the corridor open, allowing the player to leave and head for the elevator.
Just outside the library. A final stretch before freedom.
As players move towards the elevator, a loud scream is heard and the monster appears behind them for one final scare. Players need to hurry down the corridor to reach the elevator before they are caught.
As the player inserts the key into the slot by the buttons, the elevator doors slowly slide shut, vision fades and the game ends. The player has narrowly avoided certain death.