Friday 25 July 2014

Sour Crouch's Super Fantastic Indie Horror Roundup Super Slam...Thing - One Late Night


Today, children, we'll be talking about a game that is masterful in its shittening. That is to say, it'll put hairs on your chest and subsequently rip them off in a shameful rampage that'd put Barry Scott from those Cillit Bang adverts to shame. The sheer terror induced by this gem is proportional to how much you fap over cosplayers (of which many are available) and Yankee candles (Man, those smell good).

The game in question...Oh yes...Is One Late Night.

I don't know whether it's my aversion to any real work or due to playing this that I'll never consider working in an office. Going by my reaction to playing One Late Night, I think I'll go with the latter because it sounds better, and I don't know who's reading this. I mean, when I go for "Best Alternative Male Model...In An Office" I don't want this biting me in the arse.

So, some background. One Late Night is a freeware horror "experience" built in the Unity engine by Black Curtain Studio. There now follows a premise.

You're in that crunch period. You know - everyone is working overtime to ship Tits, Tits, Tits and the Common Macaw, the latest and easily most hotly anticipated review on Blue Tits and the common wild birds since Cocks and Roosters - The Phrenology of Male Birds. You've just got a few bits to finalise, so you've locked yourself in your office as your co-workers slowly siphon off, and with each buddy out of the door the loneliness of the office grows. It starts to storm. Time passes and soon your loneliness becomes rather apparent.

That in itself would be enough to "nope" me straight out of there. There's more though. The kicker here is that your haunted. See, In no way is this deliberately set up to be the perfect environment to scare the shit out of you. Nope, not deliberate at all.

Yeah right.

So that is the set up for One Late Night. Office, "Ghost Bitch", storm, scary. Standard. First off, it's time for some deserving praise.

Straight from the off, you will realise that this is a simple beast. WASD and your mouse control your character. You can't shoot, you can't talk and you can't sprint your way through this one. All you've guessed it, is a flashlight! At least, you have one once you find it! So you're left with the horrifying task of exploring the goings on and ultimately escape the she-ghost haunting you.

The thing that One Late Night does so well is force you to empathise with the player character. It immediately gets you caring about getting your dude out of the building. The first of the very obvious, but in no way misused, devices to anchor you to your character is the first "scene", which takes the form of a text message from your partner Linda:

"Okay, I'll see you soon"
Followed by:
"Hey, Sorry, but I will be later than expected, Not sure when but I'll call you on the way home"

We've all been this person whose infuriating workload causes havoc with plans. We immediately feel for this guy. We want him to go home, get to Linda and give her a hug, a smack on the arse and 2-3 minutes of undulation. But he's stuck at his desk. And that's when shit gets trippy. I don't want to write anything about what happens in the game because to spoil it for you would rid the game of any impact, you've got to go in dry. In doing this you may get a little stuck and frustrated, but there are plenty of walkthroughs/playthroughs on Youtube to help if you've chosen to live your life that way.

Now, I must discuss the beginning of the game. More specifically, I must discuss the office room you spawn in - your office. Again, another device used to get you on side with your character's goal of escape. The first thing you'll notice is the attention to detail in the environments. It's not an overly packed-out office and there's no cliché "picture of wife and dog" sitting on the desk but it feels very "lived in".

Almost as soon as you've left your room, things go a little...amiss. One part in particular involves a conference room and a red balloon, and shittening begins. In some sequences, "Ghost Bitch" appears for a split second before disappearing, only for the radio in your office to start bellowing out quite simply the scariest few notes in game music history. This tune had me hiding in every room, under every desk, half because I didn't understand the game rules as to when "Ghost Bitch" appears, which only added to the terror.

The sound design on this game is fantastic, the audio quality is top-notch and really gets you immersed in the minutiae of office life. It draws you in, from the random clashes of thunder to the printer/scanner machine thingamajig springing to life. All things, even the silence, serve to draw you in so that when "Ghost Bitch" does come around you're usually so entranced in the game that the shitquake it causes in you is so immense you'll probably need some form of surgery to fix the damage.

So, with that, I heartily recommend this game. It's free, it's well-made and it's definitely one of the scarier indie horrors out there. Also, I hear there's a sequel in development, One Late Night: Deadline, which I will be eagerly awaiting (which you can find out more about here

Do me a favour though, play this in a dark room with a few friends that have a sense of humour.

This has been Sour Crouch.

"Ghost Bitch".

Monday 14 July 2014

E14 Interviews....A.J. Waters

Today, E14 celebrates its creative friends. As we've not done an interview in some time, we thought it high time we catch up with one of our site's friends, recently published author A.J. Waters.

The first science fiction novella by A.J. Waters, Olympus A.D., is a fast-paced, futuristic, science-fiction action romp. Jack Tatton is a hitman whose world begins to crash around him after a job goes terribly wrong. Now he must go to the gang-ridden city of Olympus to find both answers and revenge.

Having recently published his first novella Olympus A.D, thankfully Aaron was all too happy to talk to E14's Rob Wade. Behold the fruits of their conversation!

E14: Hi Aaron, thanks for doing this interview. First things first, the world of Olympus seems to be one that has a lot of room for expansion. Did you always set out to build a world within which you could tell multiple stories, or was it a more gradual thing?

AJW: The great thing about making your own fictional world is that you literally are the architect! Absolutely anything can happen in/outside the box. So when my mind designed what I like to call the Protox Universe, I absolutely intended to have more than just the two cities of Olympus and Princeton Falls. So yes, I have left plenty of room for a lot more stories, as this is just the beginning of a series of three or maybe even four tales.

E14: We've seen a glimpse into your post-apocalyptic world through Olympus AD. How similar is the Protox Universe to your vision of what the future holds?

AJW: Well, that's the thing! I think the world would love to go in the direction of Princeton Falls. A civil, civilised, civilian...civilisation where everything is either at the flick of a switch or can be voice-commanded. However, there will always be parts of the world that are living in the shadows of criminals in a third-world state, with savage man-eating desert monsters. So really, it's not that far-fetched of an idea, is it?

E14: What's one piece of tech you'd absolutely love to see arrive in the modern world?

AJW: A single lens that goes over your eye that has a locking-on device so you can laser blast flies out of the air when you're trying to watch telly.

E14: When was the first time you said to yourself "I want to be a writer"?

AJW: I've always wanted to write. Ever since primary school, my favourite lesson was "write a story". I used to love it. Most kids just filled up one side of an A5 piece of paper and they'd get a gold star (because let's face it, most kids are morons). I, however, used to fill both sides of three or four A4 sheets sometimes (although admittedly as a kid, my handwriting was massive).

Most of the kids there just wrote about stupid shit, like unicorns and talking dogs and that adventure they took that one weekend to Brighton with their really affectionate uncle (bit weird, looking back at it...). I liked horror! I loved ghost stories, goblins and monsters! Then at the end of class we had to read out our stories in front of everyone (after the teacher checked them first). I wasn't allowed to read mine as it was "too scary for the other children." . . . bitch.

E14: Do you tend to read other writers' work while writing?

AJW: Absolutely! You have to, man. To me, it would be like me saying "I want to be a professional gourmet chef, but I'm not going to try anyone else's food/restaurants until that happens."

E14: Is there ever a worry that you might unwittingly adopt some element of the story in your ongoing work?

AJW: The worry is always there, but as long as you keep true to your craft and keep looking back and being careful, you should be okay.

E14: Does reading others' work ever make you look at your own work differently? Have you ever been inspired to make a change (either positive or negative) by a book you were reading at the time?

AJW: All the time. Definitely. And when that happens it's always welcome. Especially when it comes to character traits too. I wanted to make one of my newer characters more appealing to the reader by having them get to know him a little bit more, so perhaps they could care/worry about him, because that's what drags people in. So I find the odd anecdote about his youth from time to time is good (when it's relevant), but also little things like (for example) '"Oh well, onwards and upwards!" as his mother used to say when he was a lad' can be useful too. It just makes you know that little extra about him. So at least now, knowing that, you can't call him a stranger. So whenever I find things like this, It's always inspiring.

E14: You went down the self-publishing route for your first novel. What is the piece of advice you'd consider most useful for those thinking of going down the same path?

AJW: Don't rely on authors who *aren't* self-published. 90% of them are high & mighty pretentious wankers who think their shit doesn't stink and have forgotten that *they* were once a budding first-time author. Get in touch with other self-publishers on Facebook, Twitter, Gmail groups, web forums, even magazines if need be, and just promote the shit out of them! If you're promoting 20 authors, then ideally you'll have 20 authors promoting *you!* Now how's that for a slice of fried penis, me ol' mucker?

E14: Any especially good groups you can recommend?

AJW: Certainly! On Facebook, there's the "Indie Author Promotion Page", "Short Fiction Writers & Readers", "Kindle Publishers", "MARSocial Authors Business Enhancement" and "Sci-Fi Fantasy and Book Lovers". All good ones!

E14: What's one single book you consider 'required reading' for those interested in knowing more of your influences?

AJW: Tough one, but probably something from the Dark Tower series by Stephen King.

E14: Ooh, I like that one too. What is it that appeals to you so much about that series?

AJW: To be honest, I just love how anything can happen and anything *could* happen! You expect the unexpected with so many different extraordinary races, weapons, quests, villains, anything! Languages, sceneries, the lot! But, if we are talking "What one book would I choose to have above any other?", then that would be "The Lord of the Rings". I was introduced to that book at a very, very young age, and have been in love with it ever since. I have read it more times than I can count and every time still seems like the first. And how that book has so many layers and such a vast existence inside those 1300 pages, plus the appendix, to me, is so inspiring. It really shows that the only limit is your imagination.

I also recommend you check out "The Bumper Book of Bunny Suicides" as well. Fuckin' right laugh, bruv.

E14: And finally, any hints on your next non-Protox project?

AJW: Well, I am writing a book of short horror stories, but that'll be a long old while yet, son. Mainly I'm focusing on the sequel, "Olympus Reborn" at the minute. So expect plenty more horrific deaths, colourful language and substance abuse. Hell, there's even sex scenes in this one!

E14: Well, if you needed any more incentive to pick up the next one...

There you have it, folks! If you like the cut of Mr Waters' gib, you can find his book at the links below. I can say from experience that the world of Olympus makes for a cracking setting, and the man shows definite promise as an author. E14 encourages you to give his stuff a go!