For many of us, games are about escapism. About stepping out of our ordinary lives of desks and reports, and into a world far different from our own. How then do we approach horror games? Where we are thrown into a world far darker and more insidious than our own. Far darker than late night worries. Far more claustrophobic than the morning commute.
Well for those of you who love that feeling of dread and confinement, welcome to Taphobos.
To play Taphobos all you will need is a PC, an Oculus Rift, two pairs of headphones and a microphone. Oh, and a full sized, wooden coffin. Yes, you read that right, forget the Powerglove or the Sega CD, tomorrow's gaming peripheral is a coffin.
In Taphobos you play one of two roles, either the person in the coffin or the person outside. As the person in the coffin, you wear the Oculus Rift. Even though the coffin itself is open and sitting in the real world; what you see is the inside of the sealed box, deep below the ground. Your only lifeline is a phone call with your partner outside. You then need to use clues hidden inside the coffin to direct your friend to find your burial site. All the while contending with depleting oxygen and battery life. I think it sounds horrifying, but that could be my will to live showing.
As the second person you play in a more traditional first-person setting, where you follow clues given by the buried player to explore around the above ground environment, trying to find where your friend has been buried before he runs out of oxygen or the phone call drops out.
Taphobos is of course in early development, having been conceived at a two day hackathon at the University of Nottington, and will be shown at EGX Rezzed in London next month. Taphobos plays on the fear of being buried alive, but intelligently also plays on the concept of survivor guilt and the feelings of anguish and worry when someone else is depending on you. This has been used as the basis for one of the lead designers' Masters thesis on uncomfortable gaming experiences.
Look for coffin peripherals in your local retail outlet shortly! In the interim, for a fantastic audio/horror experience that does away with normal sight, play the excellent Papa Sangre II, where Sean Bean narrates your through the afterlife.