In 'Stifled,' Sound Is Your Friend And Your Enemy

The Media Indie Exchange gives independent developers some much needed exposure, especially when they're competing against large developers who can afford to advertise their games to a wider audience. This rings especially true for the horror genre, and indie developer Gattai Games proves that you don’t need a million-dollar production to terrify players. We hit the Media Indie Exchange's showcase at E3 this year to see how independent developers were faring in a tradeshow defined by blockbuster announcements for AAA games.

Stifled, by Gattai Games, is a survival horror VR title that takes place in the dark. You begin the game right after a car accident in the forest. As you crawl out of your burning car, you see a few notes strewn on the floor, suggesting that you might have been searching for a friend or loved one. The only way forward is into an ominously dark forest, and the further away you move from the fire, the less you can see. Eventually, everything is pitch black.

You aren’t totally helpless. You can echolocate your immediate surroundings by making noises with your controller’s right trigger or your headset’s microphone. Quickly tapping the trigger or making a quiet noise will create a white outline of the environment a few feet in front of you, whereas holding the trigger longer or shouting will show you more of your surroundings.

However, you can’t go around haphazardly making noises. Monsters that are particularly sensitive to sound are lurking just around the corner; luckily, they make noises too, which are illustrated with a red outline. To sneak by these creatures, you have to be totally silent. You can also distract them by picking up rocks and bottles and throwing them short distances. The noise created will attract them away from you, giving you time to slip away undetected. If you so much as gasp, however, you’ll alert your enemies. Pray that you keep yourself stifled. (Get it?)

As we made our way through the demo, we found ourselves sneaking through a sewer and sneaking by one of the creatures. At the end, as we were crossing a bridge, we found a woman’s shoe; perhaps this was the companion we were searching for? As we reached out to pick up the shoe, the bridge came crashing down, and the area around us was filled with red outlines as we heard the cries of multiple monsters closing in.

Stifled will be released some time this year on Windows, Mac, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One with support for the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and PSVR.

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