Mobile game studio ElectricNoir has a pretty intriguing product launch announcement today. It's debuting its latest horror-themed mobile game Dark Mode, following on the heels of its BAFTA-award nominated release, Dead Man's Phone. This time it has generative AI doing the artwork and writing some of the script's fear factor.
Split into multiple downloadable segments, the game's initial chapter has the player sucked into a chat interface that reminds this author of silly but still somewhat chilling social media-age premise of films like Friend Request (and no I'm not sure why I've watched this one, either). In a gaming context, however, a chat interface seems like the perfect device to deliver AI-created punchlines, voice notes, imagery in response to the players choices, in ElectricNoir's words "determining whether they make it out alive."
Choice-based interactive media has a lengthy backstory in the horror genre, going right back to games like NightTrap (1992) that was basically an interactive M-rated movie back when Sega home consoles were a thing.
NightTrap itself generated controversy, unhelped by a really clumsy adult theme involving violent intruders on a household featuring young women. Long story short, at that time video games mainly were seen as a childhood past time, and 'boomer' (purely a generational identifier) politicians back then didn't really play, so were suitably outraged at the industry as a whole.
As far as gaming's concerns, things have changed since then. The average age demographic is supposedly around 35, with the majority thought to be adults.
With games again crowned the UK's highest grossing consumer entertainment sector for the 2022 calendar, above film, video and TV, there's never been so much scope for artistic experimentation.
ElectricNoir bills its studio output as a mobile-first blend of gaming elements with TV and film-like story devices. The previous release, Dead Man's Phone, was also spread out into multiple monetisable chapters, winning critical acclaim for its engrossing murder detective mechanic.
US streaming giant Netflix commissioned the first two seasons of Dead Man's Phone last year, and the content has since been published as part of the Netflix viewing strand "Scriptic: Crime Stories".