A horror game that doesn’t wrest control from the player. A title that can instill dread and fear without dictating it to the person in control. That’s the goal We Create Stuff’s CEO Ido Tal had for their upcoming game, In Sound Mind, of which he is also the co-producer.
In a presentation for his studio’s game, Tal mentioned the tools a number of modern horror games use to stress the player. Slowing down the player, forcing the camera out of their control.
“These are legit tools games make good use of, but we didn’t want to do it,” he relayed.
Having cut their horror teeth on the Nightmare House series of games, themselves mods of Half-Life 2 and the Source engine, the team at We Create Stuff sees In Sound Mind as a kind of spiritual successor. The title is a psychological horror game, featuring a therapist who finds himself experiencing the minds and mental states of his patients.
Built around a safe “hub” area, the player takes control of this therapist named Desmond. The hub area allows the player to collect themselves, pet a cat, and prepare for ventures into Desmond’s patients’ minds though the use of cassette tapes. Each tape represents a patient of Desmond’s, with four total making up the game.
In Sound Mind balances its focus between exploration and action. The player takes control of Desmond in the first-person, peering through the worlds of his patient’s minds, solving puzzles, and occasionally fighting off some strange creatures.
As mentioned earlier, a key piece of the game is that it never takes control from the player. Tal specifically pointed to the Half-Life games as inspiration for this point, where those games continue to all full player agency even during cutscenes and exposition.
Of particular note is the game’s soundtrack. The studio is collaborating with composer and YouTuber The Living Tombstone. They’re known for creating works based around indie horror games such as Five Nights at Freddy’s, and Tal mentioned they have been collaborating with the group directly to create “dozens of” fitting and well-designed tracks for their game.
“Finding a good collaboration was a goal,” Tal said, “and allowing the artist to find themself in it.”
It also appears that In Sound Mind has been in the works for a quite a while. Tal mentioned the idea has been kicking around since 2007, while the team was working on the Nightmare House series. The current makeup of We Create Stuff is a “reincarnation” of the original team, so they decided it was fitting to revive the concept to create something new.
The game now approaches its release date. In Sound Mind is planned for release later in 2021 for PC, PlayStation 5, Xbox X|S, and Nintendo Switch. A demo is currently available on Steam.
Images courtesy of We Create Stuff.