Week in Mobile: Psychological thriller 'In Fear I Trust' is like a Lynchian TV series
When it comes to horror, we often focus too much on the gameplay. Does it have weapons? What kind of monsters will I meet crawling in the dark? Am I going to have to run and hide in lockers?
Aleksey Savchenko, the executive producer of new iOS game In Fear I Trust, kindly reminded me that not all horror is about the slimy, inhuman things that go bump in the night.
“In Fear I Trust is more of a psychological thriller than classical horror game,” Savchenko said. “Instead of things jumping at you from around the corner, In Fear I Trust frightens you by building an atmosphere that gets under your skin. It keeps you in the dark so that its forthcoming revelations will send chills through your spine.”
Ukraine-based developer Black Wing Foundation is releasing In Fear I Trust as an episodic series with publisher Chillingo. The app, which is out now, already contains the first two episodes, and the third will come out soon as an update. A fourth is planned, and there are no in-app purchases.
“One of the ideas here was to build a TV series thriller experience,” Savchenko said. “Most of the [challenges] were focused on creating a production pipeline that would allow us build episodes quickly but without losing quality and keeping it to the ‘genre.’ I think we managed this pretty well, and that’s largely thanks to the development team and their work with the Unreal Engine."
“This is mostly an exploration-type of adventure with puzzles and a story that unravels over time,” Savchenko told me. “There is a lot of story for the players to discover by themselves. Every episode hides dozens of documents, scenes, objects, videos, audio files, and surroundings that uncover a better idea of the things that happened here. Missing a few of them may completely change the perspective and perception of the story.”
Interpretations might differ, in other words, depending on how much of the full picture you put together, but there are no distinctly different endings.
“There are also a variety of puzzles that players will have to solve to move forward on the story,” he said. “Some of the more challenging puzzles aren’t necessary to finish the game, but they will reveal more about the overall story.”
Savchenko couldn’t say much about the meaning of the game's title other than that it’s connected to one of the psychological concepts introduced in the story. And he was hesitant to spill too much about the characters that dominate the two trailers. Still, I was surprised to learn that In Fear I Trust isn’t just one person’s story.
“The only thing I can say is that the characters play crucial roles. Like you said, it’s a story-heavy game, and it concentrates not only on the story of the protagonist but usually four or five stories of that are weaved into the main plot. In essence, the main storyline is comprised of smaller stories of other characters that aren’t as insignificant as they might first seem.”
Savchenko noted that the overall quality, deepness, and attention to detail sets In Fear I Trust apart from other horror games on the market, and he hopes that the developer’s fresh approach to episodic storytelling will keep players hooked.
Scaring people on their mobile devices isn’t easy, after all.
“We really tried to get closer to original adventure games of the 80s and 90s here and infuse them with the feeling of movies by such great directors like David Lynch or Stanley Kubrick. This whole experience is quite surreal, I think.”