How the .io Game I'm Still Here Puts a Novel and Terrifying Twist on the Horror Genre

The indie developer Cozy Game Pals has come out with a new thriller that will leave you shaken to the core -- but for reasons you probably don't suspect.

The impact that P.T. had on the industry is remarkable when you really think about it. What was initially put out as a guerilla marketing tactic for the now cancelled Silent Hill sequel managed to spark up a new interest in the once niche FPS horror sub-genre, paving the way for titles like Layers of Fear and Resident Evil VII.

Konami’s loss is truly everyone else’s gain as the concept has been ripe for the taking for all different kinds of developers, especially within the indie game community — which brings us to the I’m Still Here, a first-person thriller from the people of Cozy Game Pals.

The premise of I’m Still Here is far from groundbreaking, as the story starts with you moving into what seemingly plays out to be a haunted apartment, but there’s a subtle commentary that’s tucked away that speaks volumes on both the F2P horror genre and the utter sadness of living alone in a cramped studio-sized home.

The message in I’m Still Here is a pretty loud one when you stop to think about it. How we all live in an age where the entire world is connected to each other through an invisible network that nearly anyone can access, yet somehow, people continue to grow further apart with each passing day. Browsing through the search results of the game’s proxy search engine, “Wahoo,” only manages to convey that terrifying sadness that anyone can relate to, and it’s a part of the human condition that we don’t see too often in these types of games.

So often you’ll see scary software focus on jump scares or disturbing imagery to strike fear into the gamers that enjoy the thrill that fear brings. But I’m Still Here elicits an entirely different sense of dread — and I never really stopped to think just how deafening the coldness of solitude could really be. At the end of my harrowing experience with the game, I couldn’t help but ask myself that anxious question that we all find ourselves asking at some point in our lives — what’s next?

I know that may sound silly, but just think about it; as frightening as other contemporary scare-fests like Amnesia or Among the Sleep may be, they all possess a sense of finality, something that you can reach the end of, no matter how chilling your time with the title was or could be. I’m Still Here's experimental take on the formula from Cozy Game Pals didn’t give me that impression though; where I should have felt some form of accomplishment, the game instead left me with me with an existential crisis.

The twist in the game’s conclusion is a shock that imitates life in such a timorously accurate way for just about anyone. We may never find ourselves in danger of getting chainsawed in half, but the day we need to furnish a living room space that will rarely see any visitors is a sobering reality that’s just around the corner for a lot of us.

I’m Still Here is free to anyone who thinks they’re brave enough to enter the eerie living space, just don’t say I didn’t warn you, because you won’t be the same again if you do.

Published May. 9th 2017

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