Developed by Team Junkfish, Monstrum promises to combine the best elements of the survival-horror and roguelike genres. All the elements appear to be here, but the question is whether or not the team behind it can really pull it off.
(video by YouTube user: SOEDESCO)
Monstrum tasks players with surviving and escaping a derelict cargo ship stuck out at sea. This being a horror game, one can surmise that the player’s character is the only one left alive on a this ship filled with monsters and environmental hazards. It doesn’t sound too unusual, games like Amnesia: The Dark Descent and Alien: Isolation are survival games with monsters chasing their players. It should just be a matter of learning the layout and going from there, right?
In Monstrum, death is permanent, levels are procedurally-generated, and the monster pursuing you is different every time. The only way to make it through is to die, and learn every time. Players will be able to find a variety of tools they can use to hide from, distract, or outwit the monster, but there’s no combat here. The options are either hide or create an opportunity to run. That’s it.
Most horror games live and die on their ability to build tension and trigger that rush of fear and shock when monster and player meet. Adding permadeath and procedural generation into the horror formula will certainly ratchet up that tension since the consequence of failure will literally be getting kicked back to the beginning. However, Team Junkfish will have to be careful with their implementation if they want this to succeed.
Having to start over each time can become overly frustrating for players if they have to suffer it too often. Having no sense of progress outside of successfully escaping could also hamper the experience. If they want Monstrum to work, Team Junkfish is going to have to find a way to keep players invested beyond simply encouraging them to escape the ship.
What’s your take on this? What would you say makes a successful roguelike? What about a good survival-horror?
Lede image is a official Monstrum promotional screen shot.