In a small town somewhere it Noth America, teenagers are waking up in strange places with no memory of how they got there. Some have even gone missing.
No, this isn’t the result of an exceptionally rowdy Saturday night. It is the premise of The Blackout Club – a new horror co-op game by indie developer Question.
Welcome to the Blackout Club
The Blackout Club follows a group of teens out to uncover a major conspiracy in their hometown. None of the adults believe them, so they take it upon themselves to catch the ones responsible on camera and expose the truth.
That is easier said than done. The town is so remote, there’s no wi-fi and no cellular reception. It is truly cut-off from the rest of the world. Plus, there’s a huge maze of tunnels right below the town, and something sinister lurking down there.
Up to four players will sneak out of their homes and go on surveillance missions together. These missions have procedurally-generated elements including variable objectives, enemy encounters, loot drops, and more.
Thanks to these random elements, every night will be a different adventure. Players will explore the town for clues, or descent deep into the underground labyrinth beneath it to face a dangerous cult of mean adults and other horrors.
The Boogeyman Is Coming for You
PC Gamer has published an extensive interview with Jordan Thomas, the co-founder of Question. In this interview, we learn more about the evils and monsters that The Blackout Club will face in their quest.
First, there are the Sleepwalkers. Sleepwalkers are people from the town that are being unknowingly used by the cult. These can be teachers, parents and friends, walking around like zombies during the night. They are unaware of their actions, and since they are asleep, they can’t see; however, they can still hear. They walk with their arms stretched forward, ready to grab anyone unlucky enough to be within their reach.
Then there are the Lucids. These are the people aware of the conspiracy and are taking a more active part in it. They can see and hear you, and carry around a strong light source, so it’s much harder to hide from them. Thomas refused to go into much detail, to avoid any spoilers to the main story.
But Lucids and Sleepwalkers are not the most terrifying things that await you in The Blackout Club. That honor is reserved to the monster only referred to as the boogeyman.
The boogeyman is invisible, and can only be seen by closing your eyes and “blacking out”. The boogeyman never stops and it never gives up. It always goes after the kid who has committed more crimes against the villains, so if you draw too much attention to yourself, you can be sure this “force in the dark” will be on your trail.
Thomas compares it to the monster in the amazing indie horror film It Follows – a single-minded, relentless force coming after you.
Co-op Horror Stories
But you do have ways of defending yourself (or running away). Every character can have its own set of skills and equipment. They can have infinite sprint, surveillance drones, traps, and more. Characters don’t have to commit to a certain role or class, as they can swap their abilities in between missions.
That is where the co-op element comes in. Each character can only select a few abilities for a mission, so players will need to work together to achieve the best results possible. There will be a small single-player component to the game, but the majority of it is built around co-op.
Jordan Thomas provides a couple of reasons as to why the studio decided to go the multiplayer route. First, they see horror as a social activity. Watching scary movies and playing scary games together enhances the experience according to him.
I’m not so sure about it myself, as I find playing horror titles with someone else in the room usually makes the experience more comedic than scary, but it’s still fun nonetheless.
The second reason is that multiplayer games have a tendency to live longer. As a small indie studio, it is important to Question that their game will stand out from the rest of the indie titles.
“The truth is, the generative experiences that come out of some version of multiplayer are a way to increase the longevity of a thing, which with a small team, might otherwise vanish without a splash in the Steam market as it stands,” Thomas told PC Gamer.
Co-op or single-player, The Blackout Club sounds like an intriguing horror experience. It clearly draws inspiration from the likes of Stranger Things, IT, The Goonies and It Follows – all brilliant pieces of pop culture goodness.
If you’re interested in learning more about Question, the developers behind the studio, you’ll be glad to know they pack some serious cred. They are a team of industry veterans that includes the Creative Director and Lead Writer of BioShock 2, the Senior Gameplay Programmer of Dishonored, and the Lead Effects Artist for BioShock Infinite.
They are also the studio behind The Magic Circle, which is a unique game about developing games that I personally really enjoyed.
The Blackout Club is scheduled for release in Q1 2019, on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.