Hysteria Project

   14/04/2009 at 12:01       Phil May       5 COMMENTS. - Score 3/5
[iTunes Store Link]

If you go down to the woods today, take body armour

Remember the Philips CD-I? Of course you don't because no one with an ounce of sense bought one. Hailed as the machine that would propel gaming into the next generation (back in 1991), the machine was an utter disaster.

One thing it did spawn a crop of though was a crop of interactive video adventures. Basically, the player controlled their progress through an "adventure" by choosing actions at branching points in the game's plot. Make the right choice and the game progressed. Make the wrong choice and you met with a grisly end.

Bulky Pix's Hysteria Project works along the same lines, and uses the excellent video playback capabilities of your iPhone / iPod touch, plus the neat touch-screen control system to good effect offering up a pocket sized slice of interactive terror.

The game begins as you regain consciousness and realise that you're gaffa taped to a chair in unfamiliar surroundings. From another room you can hear unsavoury noises, and quite wisely decide to make like Bo Peep and get the flock outa there.

Various choices are presented to you once you've had a bit of a fruitless struggle - and so the game goes on. Snippets of video play with hidden hints that might suggest your next course of action when the decisions are presented to you. Beware though. Hysteria Project does a cruel line in red herrings so don't blindly follow any on screen prompts, rely on your survival instincts instead.

The Blah Witch Project

As mentioned before, video quality and production values are surprisingly high considering the game was put together on a bit of a shoestring budget. Bulky Pix have concentrated on drilling into your psyche rather than going all out for the usual cheap slasher-flick scares. That said, if you're expecting a highly developed twisting plot, you won't get one here - Hysteria Project smacks of a bunch of devs dipping a toe in the water to see how well accepted the first episode is before developing the idea further.

The "game" lasts for around 40 minutes of normal play time, with insta-deaths at every wrong decision but regular checkpointing does ensure you can take up where you left off (or where you were hacked to death by the mysterious death-like cowled figure that stalks you through ep 1).

There are dreaded quick-time events to compliment the decision-based gameplay but these are generously timed, so a quick tap of the on-screen prompt will see you through them with very little difficulty. Most of the game's tension is built up when several choices are presented, each seeming like the logical thing to do in the precarious situations you find yourself in. A seasoned gamer should see the whole thing off in a couple of sittings though, so it's just as well that it's not hideously expensive (£1.19 for UK iTunes shoppers).

Stay a while, stay FOREVER!

To summarise, there's nothing else quite like Hysteria Project available for the iPhone / iPod, which is astonishing when you consider just how easy it must've been to put together something like this. In fact, it raises the very important question of why there aren't more adventure games, or for that matter why the whole interactive video adventure genre died a death and never made much of a comeback outside those naff DVD-based things you see various companies hawking at Christmas.

There is a hole in the market, most definitely. Hysteria Project raises eyebrows enough to hopefully mean that bigger better developers (and story writers) might have a stab (pardon the pun) at the interactive horror game.

For a quid 20 though, give it a go - if for no other reason, just because it'll give you something more interesting to show off your touch device with than those stupid iPint or jiggling booby apps.

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