Video games are primarily a visual medium, but what happens when you can't rely on your eyes? This is both the challenge and the appeal of Obscurium, an upcoming WWI point-and-click horror adventure from dad-and-daughter indie developers Scott and Audrey Lininger of Infinite Underworld, who are currently raising funds for the game through Kickstarter.
Players assume the role of Mary Wellsley, a Red Cross war nurse on the front lines who is "blinded by mustard gas and wakes in a hospital filled with terrors." Your eyesight now limited to "blur and shadow," you find yourself "on a stinking cot, in a tent hospital near a crumbling French mansion" with the terrifying sounds of battle still raging nearby. Despite your impairment, you are well enough to help tend to other wounded, and while doing so you inquire about your best friend and colleague, Nancy. No one knows where she is, but Mary has dreams of her friend "alone and crying ... and time is running out."
As if the inherent horrors of war weren't bad enough, there is also "a dark madness" descending on this place, as "figures are seen in the windows of the house. A harpsichord is heard at night. Unearthly objects plummet from the sky. And the patients speak of a naked child running in the rubble, dragging the corpse of an infant." If Mary is to find and save her friend in time, she's going to have to "face her deepest fears," and do so without the benefit of seeing clearly.
Described as a game of "quiet horror," Obscurium is in many respects a traditional third-person point-and-click adventure. Players will guide Mary around the environment, "collecting items and solving simple puzzles" as she "unravels the mystery of this bizarre place and the fate of her fellow nurse." The crucial difference, of course, is that here the world is "heavily blurred—except around your cursor." Rather than being a tedious form of pixel hunting, this "hazy portal of Mary’s ravaged eyes" is intended to be more intimately atmospheric and "free your imagination to fill in the horrors she encounters" through a kind of "'theatre of the mind,' painting visions far more chilling than can be drawn or described."
Having begun as an entry for the Two Minute Horror Jam on itch.io before being expanded into a (still short) game called The Nurse, now Obscurium is being revamped again to tell a "longer and ... deeper story" with approximately "20-30 minutes of intense gameplay." To help them do that, Scott and Audrey have launched a modest Kickstarter campaign to raise a mere $300 USD by November 27th. If all goes well, we should see the game released for Windows, Mac and Linux as early as next April.