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Every Scream, Shout, and Gasp Counts in PS VR’s Stifled, Out October 31

How an audio experiment into blindness twisted into a PS VR horror game.

Justin Ng's Avatar Posted by Managing Director of Gattai Games

Hey there! I’m Justin Ng, Managing Director of Gattai Games, a game development studio based out of sunny Singapore. Today we’re excited to announce that Stifled, a game we’ve been working on for the past three years is coming out for PS VR on October 31.

You may have read about the game already when it was revealed at this year’s ChinaJoy, but to give you a quick overview: Stifled is a VR and mic-enabled sound-based stealth thriller. The pitch black world is illuminated by the sounds you make, which allows you to see the path ahead and items you can pick up. But sound also highlights your location to the enemies who lurk in the darkness.

Stifled

So that’s the premise. But what the origin of the game? For that, you’d have to rewind time to 2013 when Lurking, our student project that would eventually become Stifled, spawned.

That summer, the team and I chanced upon an animation of a blind girl finding her way around the world using sound, with the visuals reflecting the mood she was in, an animation that served as a springboard for us develop a “sound-based” game.

VR was on its way to becoming more mainstream at that time, and we thought since we were developing a sound-based game, why not find a way to integrate the widely available microphone as an input for some kind of immersion? And with those ideas in mind, we started production of Lurking.

Stifled

The initial idea for Lurking revolved around the use of pitch and volume to explore your surroundings and solve puzzles. Wanting audio to take center stage, we kept our visuals to a simple black and white look, and built a few prototypes testing the mechanic of having boxes in a dark room “light up” when sounds “touched” them. After a few iterations and in a moment of genius, Bryan (Audio Director on both Lurking and Stifled) said: “This is perfect for a horror game.”

The team agreed.

With the pivot from an innocent audio exploration game to a horror game, we had to rethink our design and features. Sound was no longer just a tool, but also a method that could attract enemies. Enemies could track you through your microphone if you squeal in real life. It’s one thing to control your use of sound in game, it’s another to physically stifle yourself.

We completed and released Lurking in March of 2014 and it went on to do pretty well, bagging a bunch of awards and nominations. We saw potential in the idea and decided to pursue it as a full-fledged game; in the August of 2014, pre-production of Stifled began.

Stifled

With the microphone input of Lurking proving a success, we wanted to take Stifled to the next level with VR. And that’s exactly what we did when we heard the announcement of PS VR. We reached out to and obtained PS VR development kits from the Sony Interactive Entertainment team in Singapore.

Stifled

So, three years in and after a lot of learnings and discoveries, we are ready to put Stifled out with the support of SIE. It’s been a long and crazy ride, and we hope you will be there with us at the finish line.

Probably best to try and keep sound to a minimum though, they can hear you…

Add Your Own

drd7of14 said:

October 13th, 8:29 am

Nice! I’m really excited for this title, cause I don’t feel like the “every VR user has a built-in mic” has been utilized in many interesting ways.

I love the use of 3D Audio combined with Dynamic sound from the user, and how that further immerses the player in the world. Having a mechanic that is a tool, but too giving it a major weakness is a lovely balance. I can’t wait to scream and shout with Stifled, and on October 31st as well…Congrats guys!

    Justin Ng's Avatar

    Justin Ng said:

    October 13th, 1:00 pm

    Your screams will fill our proverbial halls with joy!

Xcaligamer1 said:

October 13th, 9:39 am

Interesting, I kinda don’t like waiting long but I don’t think a few weeks will kill me.

    Justin Ng's Avatar

    Justin Ng said:

    October 13th, 1:02 pm

    Here’s hoping the game wouldn’t scare you to death!

Justin Ng's Avatar

Justin Ng said:

October 13th, 1:03 pm

Justin here! It’s 4am here in Singapore, so it’s unlikely I’ll be staying awake for much longer, but please ask questions if you have them! Will reply to them when I get up!

paulogy said:

October 13th, 1:16 pm

This game sounds like a great fit for VR. Congrats on your upcoming launch!

What are the control options for moving your player around the game? Do you need to use the Move controllers to play?

    Justin Ng's Avatar

    Justin Ng said:

    October 13th, 1:45 pm

    You use the DS4 controller! Which also allows you to play the game sans PSVR if it gets too intense!

whereymyconary said:

October 13th, 1:34 pm

Wow this sounds really cool. What kind of controls does it use? Full locomotion or teleporting with click turning?

    Justin Ng's Avatar

    Justin Ng said:

    October 13th, 1:48 pm

    Thanks!

    Full locomotion using the DS4 and Click turning (we call it Snap turning in the game), an option you can enable/disable.

sciteach said:

October 13th, 7:06 pm

Sounds like an awesome experience. I liked the Black Swan, and Stifling seems like an innovative move into VR.

    Justin Ng's Avatar

    Justin Ng said:

    October 13th, 7:49 pm

    Glad you like the concept! Unfinished swan was one our biggest art inspirations!

    Hope you’ll enjoy Stifled when it comes out!

killer_beast_56 said:

October 13th, 9:48 pm

As a blind gamer, I’d really love to get excited about this game. However, perception was a game I got psyched about, only to realized when it launched that it was super inaccessible to blind gamers. I don’t see this being any different, although tons of blind gamers would be super happy if the devs prove us wrong!

    Justin Ng's Avatar

    Justin Ng said:

    October 17th, 7:30 pm

    Unfortunately, the game was designed for sighted players. Sorry to disappoint.

    otaku_no_bfm said:

    October 14th, 5:22 pm

    I’m hoping this will be accessible to a blind gamer I know too… We’ll try it I think regardless though. Demo please!

Darkelgta3 said:

October 17th, 12:23 am

price?

    Justin Ng's Avatar

    Justin Ng said:

    October 17th, 7:30 pm

    This will be discussed in a bit!

cusman said:

October 17th, 8:43 am

Intriguing concept

    Justin Ng's Avatar

    Justin Ng said:

    October 17th, 7:31 pm

    Thanks! Hope you’ll enjoy it!

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