Macabre Is Australia’s Answer To Alien: Isolation In All The Best Ways

Macabre Is Australia’s Answer To Alien: Isolation In All The Best Ways

If you were to imagine Alien: Isolation mashed up with co-op extraction set somewhere on the Great Dividing Range, you might have conjured something similar to upcoming Aussie horror title, Macabre.

Macabre is a multiplayer stealth extraction horror game currently in development by Sydney-based outfit Weforge Studio. Recently, Kotaku Australia was lucky enough to get a hands-on preview and chat with Weforge’s Jay Topping, Co-Founder and Creative Director, ahead of the game’s Kickstarter campaign launch.

Let me paint you an even clearer picture of Macabre: you’re being stalked through an abandoned eco-retreat by an interdimensional being. Armed with minimal gear, a radio line to a fair-dinkum recluse named Banjo, and your trusty torch, you’ll have to outsmart the danger that lurks in the infinite timelines within an unstable time rift. All the while, you’ll need to extract valuable resources and escape – or die trying.

In our time with the single-player demo, I was fully immersed in the world of Macabre from the get-go. The opening moments had me trudging through the dark and snow as the wind howled around me, the sounds of distant Australian birdsong and the jangle of my gear causing me to turn at even the slightest noise just in case. And this is before any kind of threat had even surfaced. The sound design of any horror game is a key factor in just how scary it feels – and it’s safe to say that Macabre packs in the fear-factor in droves.

On delving deeper into the Snowgum eco-retreat, Banjo’s voice over radio guided me on what my next objective was. While traversing through the area was in all respects a tense, Upside-Down esque affair, Banjo’s guidance serves as somewhat of a comic relief to pierce through the oppressive darkness and unnerving soundscape. My buddy over comms could only be so much comfort, though, when my search for anomalies and upgrades to my gear and skills catch the attention of the Macabre – the titular monster that stalks your every move, adapts to changing environments and your own behaviour.

Topping describes the shapeshifting Macabre as an apex predator in the way it follows you – by design, it tracks your moves as you begin to explore from afar, before closing in when you least expect it. Through the dark and the trees, spotting its looming form is near impossible until it’s too late. In multiplayer builds, Topping says the creature will aim to pick off party members when the group splits, making it less of a marauding beast and more of an intelligent hunter ready to down its prey when they’re vulnerable. Part of the fear factor, he says, is “the unknown,” which is woven both into the Macabre itself, as well as the ever-changing locations each time you jump into the game. 

Macabre Is Australia's Answer To Alien: Isolation In All The Best Ways
Image: Weforge Studio

You don’t have guns in the Rift of Endless Timelines, only whatever you find and any Fragments or Artifacts you Bleed into your current timeline using the Atomic Space Shifter (Banjo’s prized invention). Without any firepower, fighting against the Macabre with brute force isn’t going to work. You’ll have to employ stealth tactics, throwing items to distract the creature and outsmart it if you want any hope of survival.

And trust me, you’ll want to survive after you witness what it’s like for your player character to die: in the most plain way I can explain it, I just about shit myself when I finally came face to face with this monstrosity. Hearing the Macabre shamble past me as I cowered behind a bar, scrabbling for something to toss in the opposite direction had my heart racing, but even this didn’t compare to finding it looking me in the eyes and ripping me to shreds because of one misstep. BYO spare pants if you’re gonna try this alone, is all I have to say.

While we didn’t get chance to try out the multiplayer aspect of Macabre, a brief preview video showcased the sheer chaos of co-operative gameplay in the alternate Aussie forest the title sets itself in (although it’s worth noting that additional locations are planned). Much like Lethal Company, Content Warning and Phasmophobia, there’s room for either solid teamwork or complete and utter sabotage, depending on your teammates. With scaling maps depending on team size, you can go it alone or with up to three others to take on the interdimensional threat that looms. Do you stay and try to collate more upgrades for your gear in your ultimate quest at the risk of a fate worse than death, or play it safe and get out fast?

Macabre Is Australia's Answer To Alien: Isolation In All The Best Ways
Image: Weforge Studio

Macabre is somewhat of a passion project for Weforge, born out of lockdown gaming on titles like Escape From Tarkov and Phasmophobia. When Topping and Art Director Jake Hempson found themselves wondering what a co-op extraction horror game could look like, the shape-shifting creature in a rift in time slowly began to take form and the Weforge team grew. 

So far, Macabre doesn’t have a set release date as Weforge Studio launches their Kickstarter campaign. However, the current plan is to build the game in chapters, then reinvest into new content (including new maps, monsters, and puzzles.) You can check out the campaign here, wishlist the title on Steam, or keep up to date on social media for more updates on when you can break it down Alien: Isolation style in an Alpine Australian otherworld, constantly tailed by a creature straight out of a Lovecraftian novel.

Image: Weforge Studio

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