"Moons of Madness" is an eerie new video game in which horror meets spaceflight.
The one-player game centers on an astronaut living on Mars. It begins innocently enough: The player completes objectives like checking solar panels at an outpost and maintaining the Martian base's water supplies. But then the space-horror action begins.
Ivan Moen, producer and creative director of the game, wanted to create a story that "makes you look at the world in a new way," he told Space.com in an email, adding that the game's creative team looked largely at writer H.P. Lovecraft's style of storytelling. The "Big Bad" of the video game even boasts gnarly tentacles, a nod to the Lovecraftian deity Cthulhu.
Other literature also offered inspiration. Moen cited the nonfiction book "The Case for Mars" by Robert Zubrin (Simon & Schuster, 1996), which discusses reasons that humans should go to Mars, as a source of research. Moen did not, however, directly consult experts in aerospace or astronomers when designing the game.
"'Moons of Madness' is all about the mood and the atmosphere. While we try to stay true to realism and hard science, we want to take it one or two steps further to achieve the look and feel that we're aiming for," Moen said. "It is necessary to take some artistic freedom, especially when it comes to lighting, architecture and such."
Sprawling alien vines, a creepy apparition, a claustrophobic setting and many, many tentacles make this game perfect for a horror fan. October tends to pique people's curiosity about the macabre, but storytellers like Lovecraft and Moen think the genre touches on something deeper.
"People enjoy the thrill. It's an emotional high that other genres can't provide," Moen wrote. "For some people, it's a visceral experience that provides an addicting balance of tension and relief. For others, it's storytelling that allows them to participate (safely) in dangerous or disturbing situation[s] and self-reflect."
"Moons of Madness" was developed by Rock Pocket Games and published by Funcom. The PC version came out Tuesday (Oct. 22), and in late January 2020, the video game will be available for PS4 and Xbox.
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