Developer: Benjamin Rivers (Twitter)
Formats: PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, PC, iOS
Release Date: 2019
We got a chance to speak to Benjamin Rivers, creator of Home and Alone With You, about his upcoming horror title Worse Than Death. Check it out below:
How would you describe Worse Than Death to someone that had never heard of the game?
Worse Than Death is a scary, emotional thriller about a high school reunion that goes horribly wrong. We call it “X-Files meets Riverdale,” because it kicks off with some serious melodrama, and then sends its main character, Holly, running from locale to locale, trying to get one step ahead of some truly terrible events.
Out of your previous releases, Worse Than Death looks more similar to Home than it does Alone With You. Would you say the games themselves share a lot of similarities from a gameplay standpoint too or is Worse Than Death’s adventure a lot more unique?
Worse Than Death takes a lot of what we learned from both games and applies it to something new: it’s a 2D horror game, obviously, but instead of being a very slow, deliberate, adventure, it’s faster-paced with more action mechanics, such as vaulting over desks and throwing yourself into cover to avoid monsters.
And while both Home and Alone With You relied mostly on their story, I wanted to make a game that just felt good all the time to play. So there are action-game puzzles to solve, monsters to avoid and be scared by, and environments that feel a lot more active.
Whilst it shares similarities with Home, Worse Than Death actually seems to have a somewhat lighter tone (even if some of the sights of the game do appear to be a lot more grisly). Is this something that you’ve considered when designing the game?
Absolutely — if Home was like Silent Hill, Worse Than Death is more like Tales From the Crypt. There are a lot of slow, subtle horror games out there, but we made a bet that there was room for a horror game that was more direct in its storytelling and its horror-factor. But don’t get me wrong: Worse Than Death may feel more like a slasher flick than a David Lynch movie, but it goes to some dark places.
So you can’t actually see the monsters that roam across Worse Than Death’s world, with the player instead tracking them by using light, sound and Holly’s heartbeat. How does this work in-game?
Players can use a combination of visual cues, 3D positional audio and rumble to track the monsters. Lights flicker on and off at an alarming rate the closer a monster is, much like in Stranger Things. The on-screen “panic bar” changes colour and thumps in time to Holly’s heartbeat as well, and the room gets darker as monsters draw nearer. A deafening static sound gets louder to signal the monsters’ proximity, and the creepy voices of the creatures themselves tip you off to their location.
The goal was to let players know what was going on by purely sound or sight, but to have it really cool and stressful with both.
I suppose this might be a bit of a spoiler, but can we expect to see the monsters eventually or does it remain a case of a ‘fear of the unknown’ until the end?
I’m afraid that is definitely not something we want to give away just yet!
Discord users are actually able to shape the events that take place leading up to Holly’s adventure in the game – what does this entail and how are gamers able to take part?
This is one of the most fun aspects of the game leading up until launch. We’ve always encouraged player head-canon and theories about our stories, ever since Home, so with Worse Than Death we thought: why not make it a real thing?
Players can join our Discord (https://discord.gg/RwaUFkW) and read an exclusive prequel story there, which I write and illustrate myself. At the end of each chapter, they can vote on a choice, and then I write and draw the next chapter for whichever choice wins. Even I don’t know where this story is going to end up!
Worse Than Death is the first of your titles that’s going to be made available on the Nintendo Switch and I’ve seen on Twitter that development is coming along smoothly on the platform. Have you thought about bringing Home and Alone With You to the Switch too?
That’s definitely something we’ve considered — both of those games work especially well in handheld mode, on a personal level. It’d be great to know if people actually want that to happen, so if they do, please tell us on Twitter!
The only idea you’ve given in regards to a release date is that it’s ‘coming soon’. Does this mean we might see Worse Than Death release over the coming weeks or are players more likely to be waiting a few months?
I can’t say anything specific right now, and it might depend on platform, but you shouldn’t have too many more moons to wait.
Finally, can you tell us one unique fact about the game that nobody outside of the development team knows?
There is a pretty subtle, deep-cut nod to Home in there that only fans of that game will understand — I hope people notice it!