An indie team of twelve is bringing us a gorgeous, atmospheric psychological horror game, by the name of The Vale. The surroundings are hyper-realistic, the monsters are what nightmares are made of, and the gameplay will make our heads spin with confusion!
The team working on The Vale has decided to come forth with new information about the game for the first time. I had the pleasure of speaking to the lead developer, Varun Mohindra, about the game's story, inspirations, and where they hope to take it from here. Here's everything you need to know!
All images shown are from inside the game engine: UE4, unless stated otherwise.
The game takes place within a small town in New England, "Lavender Vale". We, the players, will experience the horror through the eyes of Isaac Dempsey, a washed up producer who hasn't touched a movie in two years, and a bottle of whiskey in five. That is, until the relapse happened. Still haunted by his actions, Isaac emerges clean after spending several weeks in rehab, and makes his way over to The Vale, which is overlooked by his summer retreat. He was once one of Hollywood's most respected producers, bathed in wealth and glory, but his reputation has been reduced to nothing more than filth.
He now worries about his wife, who is on the verge of leaving him, and his son with whom he barely speaks, and a career that is near non-existent. Determined to work on his collapsing marriage, he speeds to his home, where he hopes to find his family, and put his past to rest, once and for all. Fate, however, has a cruel sense of humor, and darker things await him at Chez Dempsey.
"We spend our entire lives fighting our demons. But what happens when these demons start fighting back?" -An excerpt from 'The Vale'
Upon arriving at the Mansion, you begin navigating through the dark corridors of Isaac's home, searching for a sign as to where his family is. What if his wife decided that enough was enough? What if she left him all by himself?
But it isn't long before Isaac realizes that he isn't alone. Something lurks in the shadows, seemingly feeding off his escalating paranoia. When Isaac sees the trails of blood in his bedroom, he knows something is truly wrong. Desperately searching for his family, the player must avoid the demon-like beings that crawl over his residence. Praying that his wife and son haven't been reduced to a pile of bones, he must do everything humanly possible (and not everything is) to escape this hellish nightmare.
There are many different paths to go down when constructing a horror game, and each different gameplay mechanic will give the game a different feeling. When speaking to Mohindra about The Vale's gameplay, he said:
"There will be gameplay elements in 'The Vale' that have been used in horror games in the past. However, the majority will be unique to the nightmarish web that we are spinning day by day. As a psychological horror game, we consider ourselves failures if we cannot mess with the player's mind, and it is a task that we give grave importance to. While Jumpscares have become the norm when it comes to horror games, we truly believe that they should not be used even remotely as much as they are right now. No, horror is scarier when it's more subtle, when we have the player questioning his own sanity."
The team plans to achieve this in several different ways. For starters, the Artificial Intelligence in most horror games will only come at you from ground/eye level; In front, behind, and both sides. But in The Vale, the demons will be able to scale walls, and crawl on ceilings. In terms of movement, this is a bit reminiscent of the Spider Slicers in BioShock. And just because of this function alone, I can already tell you that we'll constantly be on our toes and checking every corner.
The Vale will also play pretty heavily on stealth for your survival. You will have to be careful of where you step so that you don't draw a monster's attention. You can fight the enemies, but your weapons are weak and unreliable. Best case scenario, it will only buy you a little bit of time.
Our actions will matter in the game as well. How we complete objectives and face challenges, which items we decide to take with us, or what sources of light we use - everything has different consequences, and this will make us think carefully (or perhaps even overthink) on what we should or shouldn't do.
This final feature is going to be really awesome and unnerving. The team wants this to be a surprise, but I can say that there will be subtle things happening in the game which will play mind games with us, and confuse us. It will be a beautifully cruel trick for those of us who are overly observant of our surroundings!
I was really curious as to what games inspired the team to implement those game mechanics. When I asked Mohindra on some of the larger influences, he had this to say:
Here's a teaser showing off the game's atmosphere:
" 'The Vale' is inspired greatly by a legion of Horror Games. Two that hold a larger influence would be 'Outlast', and of course, 'P.T.' (Playable Teaser). The gameplay, setting and soundtracks blended perfectly to produce one of the most terrifying atmospheres that one can experience through gaming, and that is something that we prioritize with 'The Vale'. We're also particularly fond of confusion- to throw the player in a game that's constantly tricking them on a psychological level, one that leaves them disoriented, trying to figure out what just happened- much as Konami did with 'P.T.' For fans of Kojima's masterpiece, we promise to deliver an equally chaotic mood, and just as stunning a level!"
Mohindra also said there was one quote that heavily influenced the game:
"We make up horrors to help us cope with the real ones." -Stephen King
I'm super excited that P.T. was an inspiration! With its cancellation being as devastating as it was, we definitely need more games to help fill the void, and it looks like The Vale is going to help with that! Not to mention the awesome Stephen King quote!
The Vale is expected to release mid 2016, with a free-to-play Alpha version released around Halloween of this year. Currently only being developed for PC, though they hope to port to other consoles in the future.
You can keep up with the team by giving them a 'like' on Facebook!