Preview: Paranormal

Paranormal is a survival-horror exploration game by Matt Cohen that puts you in the shoes of an artist trying to document the indescribable horrors of his home. Believe me, there is something definitely haunting in this guy’s house.

Playing as the artist Mattel Clarke, you wander downstairs into his studio with a camera in hand hoping to document the strange hauntings that he has been experiencing. While his major concern up until this point is was that “things have been going bump in the night“, he’ll soon discover that there is something much more sinister at play within the bricks and mortar of his home. With his camera and flashlight in hand, you take Mattel throughout his house carefully recording what you encounter and what you experience. This is where things start to get a little crazy, and equally unpredictable.

The most brilliant element of Paranormal’s design is its dynamic haunting system. Every playthrough is unique, as the game randomly generates its haunting events with countless triggers, variables, and effects. Each and every time you wander through Mattel’s house is a unique experience, you never really know what you will be encountering. Moreover, each time you go to sleep to recharge your camera’s battery in game, you wake up to yet another randomly generated set of events waiting for you throughout the house. Those hauntings are executed in a frightening manner, often utilizing the game’s eerie soundscape in order to freak you and your pets out. While I started to play the game with my headphones on, I elected to reduce the fear factor of the game by just using my surround sound speakers instead. That didn’t help, as the soundscape still managed to make me jump out of my seat on occasion, while at the same time scaring my two cats into a frenzy. They don’t appear to be fans of sudden screaming, pounding, or bloodied footsteps running across the ceiling.

Paranormal is a great example of how scary a well-designed horror experience can be. I encourage you to check out the Kickstarter for Paranormal: The Town, the first free expansion to the original game.


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