uses many of these same familiar concepts, but not in the way you’d expect, and that’s mostly thanks to its breakdown of the fourth wall.
Known as “metafiction,” this genre of work is explicitly designed to restructure the dynamic between the work and the person interacting with it.
It exploited my confidence in the visual novel genre and turned that into a twisted game of its own. (Some light spoilers follow below; here’s your spoiler warning.) Although it looks like a dating sim, is a free-to-play, psychological horror game, produced by indie studio Team Salvato.
In this case, it almost entirely removes control from the player.
It’s worth noting that metafiction already has huge potential in horror games, because of their inherent nature of directly interacting with the player. It creeps into and mocks our imagination and ideas of what that game is supposed to be, and that quickly gets under players’ skins. As a work of horrific metafiction, quite literally overwrites that control, taking the tropes of metafiction, horror and visual novel genres and amping them up a few notches.
Soon into the next run-through, the client repeatedly takes control of itself, speeding through text and tacking on unusual images to create grotesque jump scares.
But the reality of a sentient game client becomes nightmare fuel on its own.
The “action-adventure horror house” is an effective and proven genre, with tactics such as jump-scares, claustrophobic encounters and high-adrenaline chases that work despite their tired use.