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Low-poly visuals, hi-fi horror: Chasing Static

Chasing Static is a bite-sized first-person psychological horror in the works by Sick Chicken Studios, inspired by 80s sci-fi horror and contemporary surrealist cinema. It’s coming to PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC in 2020, and it’s a glorious mix of PS1 visuals and AAA sound design and accessibility.

In this two-hour experience, you play as Chris Selwood as he returns to his hometown in North Wales to bid farewell to his late, estranged father. As a storm rages above, Chris ducks into a remote, roadside cafe, oblivious to the fact that his life is about to change forever.

Witnessing something horrific and unexplainable in that very cafe, Chris passes out. When he wakes up, the place has changed around him, now looking like it’s been abandoned for years. Not knowing what to do next, he ventures into the Welsh wilderness looking for answers, signs of life, and the safety of home.

What follows is something which Nathan, sole developer behind Sick Chicken Studios, is describing as Sonic Exploration; audio-based exploration and puzzle solving using a Frequency Displacement Monitoring Device to tune into various frequency bands. By isolating and enhancing these frequencies, Chris discovers anomalies in the world around him, necessary for finding out what happened in this area of rural Wales.

Over time, Chris will learn about the secret work of Doctor Williams and her team at the Echo Garden Institute—a research facility hidden deep in the woods— learning more about the strange incidents that have been taking place since he left Wales all those years ago.

Accessibly is also an important aspect for the studio, with hearing-impaired players being considered from the early stages of development. Chasing Static can be played in its entirety without sound, including visual indicators for both tracking frequency bands and narrowing signals on the Frequency Displacement Monitoring Device, plus all voiceovers will have subtitles.

That's a really nice touch, if you ask me, but if you needed any more convincing, here’s what Nathan has to say about Chasing Static:

I'm really excited for players to explore the lonely, unsettling world that I’ve spent this past year crafting, or living in, I guess. It’s not like I’ve left the house much.

Development has been pretty intense since I started the project in January and with the current circumstances surrounding the pandemic It’s left me with little else to do but power through with development.

I’m the only developer working on this game, creating all elements of the game par music. It’s nice to have that level of control over a project, making sure everything is in line with the initial vision. Thankfully the lo-fi 3D style helps keep production time down.

The project leans pretty heavily into its inspirations, I have a background in film production and love obscure and unsettling horror, having a soft spot for films that can marry this with light science fiction themes. I’d say thematically the game is somewhere between Silent Hill and Beyond the Black Rainbow with inspirations from films like The Thing, Event Horizon, Hereditary, Ex Machina, Drive and Annihilation… To name a few.

I can’t wait to see what people make of it.

If Chasing Static has your attention like it has mine, tune your radio to their frequency for more information over on their website or Twitter.

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About The Author
Ryan Noble
Staff Reviewer
If Ryan isn't watching, reading or playing some form of horror, he's probably writing about it. He used to be an Editor at Indie Game Magazine so he has a soft spot for independent creators, especially when they're creating fear. Whether you're one such creator, or a fellow horror fan, let's speak about spooks on Twitter or email.
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