Should I care about Space Beast Terror Fright? Despite its absurdly schlocky name, yes, definitely. Its desolate space corridors teem with unseen horrors, and said corridors rearrange themselves each time you play. Also, if you die once, you’re done for good.
What’s it about? It’s a randomness-heavy sci-fi horror FPS in which you attempt to collect a series of data cores spread throughout a dark, claustrophobic space station while praying to space god that nothing claws its way inside your space face (hint: it will). Data cores contain upgrades like better ammunition and a more accurate motion tracker, which are key to your survival. Also important: sentries. Their terminals are scattered about, and activating them gives you some much needed heartless, robotic back-up. Oh, and the it’s-cold-and-my-cat-will-get-out-and-there-are-wolves-with-a-taste-for-human-flesh policy definitely applies. Which is all to say CLOSE THE GODDAMN DOOR BEHIND YOU. Making sure you’ve sealed off potential blind spots is key, but beware: aliens have been known to breach these things.
Here is me trying it out for the first time, all by my lonesome. There’s also a multiplayer option, but that’s local-only for now. (Disclaimer: at this point I had not figured out a few of the game’s important tactics yet. In other words, I died a lot.)
Why is (or isn’t it) cool? It fuses the nauseating tension of a good horror game with the randomness and “OK, just one more try” addictiveness of a good roguelike. Imagine creeping down a corridor that looks comfortingly familiar… until you realise it’s been contorted into a hideous new shape. Imagine dashing between sentry terminals and wishing on every goddamn star in the unfeeling reaches of space that they activate before something sinks its slimy hooks into your eyelids. Imagine being glued to your motion tracker like it’s an Apple Watch that actually works, knowing that something is a few precious meters away from you, but still not being able to see it. Now imagine breathing between those moments, because doing that is important too.
Sounds pretty neat! It is. And while it’s still in Early Access (and therefore, somewhat limited in terms of content), it absolutely nails small details. For instance, you get this wicked tunnel vision any time you sight an alien, and the soundtrack loses its mind to match. On top of that, if you fire your gun at an alien, the muzzle flash obscures a lot of the screen. So even when you’re mowing down hordes of the wall-crawling bastards, you still feel vulnerable, frightened. And you are. It is not smart to stand still and fire away in Space Beast Terror Fright.
Buuuuuuut it takes place in enclosed spaces, which it’s to your advantage to enclose more by locking down doors. However, doing so also takes away from your ability to screamcry away as fast as your jello legs will carry you, so you have to maintain a precarious balance.
Should I buy it (even though there are a million-billion other Steam games I could spend my money on)? On one hand, it’s still in Early Access. On the other, it’s very good and only $US14.99. I would say yes, but if you’re strapped for cash or don’t trust Early Access games, I could understand waiting. Your call.