First impressions of Strobophagia as demoed at the Steam Game Festival! Slated for release Oct 28, 2020 by Green Tile Digital.
Format: PC via Steam
The Steam Game Festival: Autumn Edition brought tons of game demos and developer live streams together in a single online event. I’m happy to be able to share my first impressions for several of the featured demos, including Strobophagia | Rave Horror. Strobophagia | Rave Horror is a horror game centered around a supernatural rave in the woods. It’s unique in its use of bright neon colors, upbeat music, and a plethora of passive NPCs.
Strobophagia looks to break the horror genre in a number of ways. Where many horror games feature dark secluded spaces with creepy music, Strobophagia goes the opposite way. Everything is decorated and outlined with glowing neon and colored lights, harmless NPCs can be found chilling or dancing throughout the area, and players are never very far away from the dance music.
Strobophagia falls into a more creepy and unsettling type of horror. Although there are jumpscares, they don’t hit very hard because sudden noises, flashing lights, and jerky movements are already part of the benign environment. There are sections where the player has to travel alone away from the rave and into the wood, at least if they want to get the true ending to the demo. They can do this by following sparse trails of lights through the woods and/or following different wifi signals with their phone.
Traveling through the woods felt like one of the more unpolished sections for me. Often times the next light on a path is out of render distance and failing to navigate toward it can wrap the player around to the entrance again and force them to start the path over. Following wifi signals is also difficult because the player will automatically put their phone away or switch wifi networks if they get too close to a different network/landmark. At first, the woods seem creepy with constant warnings to stay in the light and numerous short-lived glowsticks to take between lamps, but the impatient or curious player will quickly realize that most of the forest is devoid of enemies, forest enemies are easily avoided, and glowsticks are completely unnecessary.
There are two endings to the Strobophagia demo, one if the player tries to run away in fear and another if they play along with the deadly riddles. Riddles and clues are mainly collected via the cellphone when connected to short-range wifi networks. Players can read and participate in chat threads that will update as they uncover secrets. Keywords are highlighted and some non-anonymous characters start to emerge. Deciding which characters to listen to can result in different supernatural experiences.
Overall, Strobophagia breaks a lot of the horror genre mold, but at the cost of a real sense of tension and fear. I’m intrigued by the riddles and supernatural elements, but am hoping the final product will be able to develop more of a contrasting atmosphere between party and panic. The developers have posted on Steam saying the demo is part of a pre-alpha version of the game and it lacks much of the final polish. More recent images from the release date announcement trailer also show modifications to the NPC outfits and other visuals.
Have you found anything you’re excited about at the Steam Game Festival?
Let me know in the comments below!