The Mannequin Could Be The Scariest Game You'll Play All Year
When it comes to horror games releasing in the coming year, one title stands above the rest. One that may require me to purchase excessive underwear or take trips to the hardware store, just to be absolutely sure the house (and my outer garments) are secure. And I'm fine with that -- since it's been a long, long time since a game genuinely scared me.
I scoff at Outlast 2. I laugh in the face of Resident Evil 7. If you want a truly terrifying experience, then you absolutely need to take a look at The Mannequin. For me, it was one of the standout indie experiences of EGX 2016 -- and one of the few titles on show that truly captivated me through the entire demo experience.
You play a female visitor to a family home, and it's immediately clear that something isn't quite right. But it isn't until you discover and reassemble a broken mannequin in an upstairs room that things take a far more sinister turn.
Two Tails' forthcoming haunted house story might get the jump -- literally -- on the bigger 2017 horror releases, and here's why.
It Has Dolls
I hate dolls. I'm not too proud to admit to being a pediophobe, but I also know I'm not alone.
Their terrifying, heartless eyes. The polished, unnatural texture of their bodies. The way one eye always tends to be half shut whilst the other pierces your soul. Dolls are simply freaky -- and unsurprisingly, The Mannequin is about dolls. Well...one doll in particular.
The worst thing about the doll in this game (at least, as far has been revealed) is its passive aggressive behaviour. It doesn't seem to want to kill you, yet it appears at the most inopportune moments to stare at you and immediately cause you to evacuate a tenth of your body weight involuntarily. You could be searching a room and turn around to see it standing next to the doorway. It definitely wasn't there before. But it also isn't attacking you. WHAT DOES IT WANT?
There's A Murder To Solve
What horror game would be complete without an explanation for the creepy events unfolding? The Mannequin is no exception here, throwing into the mix a 60-year-old murder mystery to solve.
As you explore the old, abandoned family house, you have to work out what's happening and why you can't leave. To make things even more fun, you'll be transported back in time at various intervals to try and make sense of past events. The previous occupants will be there at each time jump, describing the occurrences... but they're all mannequins too. Creepy.
Want to listen to an ordinary family's story, as told by weird, posed dolls in a hallway? This is the game for you. And it's downright bizarre.
It Has A Shifting House
Horror games aren't restrained to antagonists chasing you around restrictive locations. No, they work even more effectively when they confuse and perplex. The more you're put on edge by your surroundings, the more susceptible you'll be to the in-your-face jump scares. Amnesia demonstrated this wonderfully, and The Mannequin looks set to follow suit -- which could prove to be the last straw for my nerves.
Having only played the first half an hour of the game, it isn't clear if the time jumps will be the sole reason for the weird changes in the house's layout, or if there will be other more sinister goings-on (à la The Haunting) as you progress. That door wasn't there before... was it?
There's a lot more going for this game than mere mannequins. In fact, it isn't even clear at this stage what role the mannequins will actually play. The scares I experienced during the demo were mostly due to the unexpected nature of the game, rather than adrenaline-fueled flight from impending death -- like what I'd experienced in Alien: Isolation and Resident Evil.
It's entirely possible that The Mannequin could deliver its scares purely through the power of suggestion, in a similar manner to Gone Home, or mixes both like Layers of Fear. Either way, if the rest of the game raises my neck hairs as much as the demo did, then it will have done its job admirably. Dolls may be terrifying, but as any horror aficionado knows, the mind is far worse.
The Mannequin will be released on PC and Mac in 2017.