Minute Indie #1: Katherine, when #stayhome means your apartment is trying to kill you.
Katherine is what happens when you buy the wrong VHS tape at the video store. You decide to play it at the dead of night, insatiably curious, and wind up with a migraine-inducing fright when the television starts chanting incantations.
With its chattering TV-static and found footage theme, Katherine has all the usual markers of a retro horror flick. Today, in our inaugural Minute Indie column, we talk to developer Keziban about how he and his team crafted this particular fright-fest.
“With [Katherine], we intended to make a simple horror game with a simple premise. We consider jump scares to be fairly cheap, so we wanted to make a short game with more of a what the f — ? theme throughout the game. The level seems endless but regularly ends up in the same point.
This was by design, because we wanted to confuse the player as much as possible, using a mix of claustrophobia and dreadful repetition. Every time you come back to a point you’ve been before, small or large details change depending on your progress in the game.”
Keziban’s philosophy for design is simple: a game should set out to satisfy its genre, but also to shift it, to move its confines.
“I like it when horror games or movies dare to move boundaries. That’s what I’m there for. To have an experience that I can’t find anywhere else, nor want to go through in real life. [The purpose of the genre] is to get the living sh*t scared out of you, in the safety of your own home.”
This philosophy is reflected both in the game’s design and its art direction. Katherine’s pixel art graphics were born from a compromise between beauty and efficiency. However, the retro graphics also had the unplanned benefit of amplifying the horror, forcing players to be afraid of what they couldn’t see — what lay between blurry scan-lines.
“We consider the lack of detail to be a good way for players to fill in their own details, adding to the horror element in say the pictures or the television footage that you come across.”
The Minute Indie Pitch — why play Katherine?
As Keziban puts it — to “experience the heights of horror in an apartment complex that is changing its shape around you, actively mocking you while a corrupt government haunts you for the secrets that you hold.”
Sounds like a typical day at work for me. But if this isn’t your average #stayhome story, Katherine might be the horror escapism you might badly need right now.
This is part of the ongoing Minute Indie column, a biweekly bite-sized showcase of the hardworking and unique developers that make up the ever-growing indie-dev community. If this fits your description, feel free to reach out to us on Twitter and be featured in an upcoming piece!
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