This Blumhouse Game Is Like Playing Through A ’90s Horror Movie

Fear The Spotlight is vibey as hell from the outset, like plunging into a wormhole that sends you straight onto the set of the ‘90s cult horror classic The Craft. Grainy, VHS-esque visuals, narrative-driven gameplay, and simplistic puzzles are reminiscent of early PlayStation horror titles or point-and-click PC mysteries, and the two lead characters (Vivian and Amy) look like they’d be hanging out near the fountain at your local mall, fishnet top and pentagram t-shirt included.

Blumhouse, the horror production studio that announced it’s delving into games in a big way by showing off five different games during the 2024 Summer Game Fest presentation, noticed how cool Fear the Spotlight was on Steam last year and offered the two-person development team (Cozy Game Pals) an opportunity to expand it. So, they pulled it from Valve’s marketplace to flesh it out even further, and will release it in full later this year. I got a chance to play a little slice of the demo at Summer Game Fest, and it left an incredible impression, one that’s lingering even as I head to other hands-on appointments.

Fear the Spotlight is set in a school at night—a liminal space straight out of a 4Chan creepypasta whose creepiness is only elevated by the game’s VHS grain filter. Vivian and Amy have broken into the school to get a Ouija board out of a locked case in the library while a thunderstorm rages outside (I noticed that the sounds of the storm grow louder as you walk closer to the library’s windows, a tiny little detail that was a delight to discover). You have to hide from the school’s security cameras (Fear the Spotlight has very basic movement mechanics: walk, jog, crouch) and gather things to help facilitate your seance much like you might in a Resident Evil game: to get the key for the display case you need to track down a keycard to get into the librarian’s office.

As the girls sit down to start their séance, you’ve got to light the candles on your side of the table with a box of matches, a small moment that offers an incredibly satisfying tactility. But naturally, as soon as Vivian and Amy begin to convene with the dead, things go awry—the candles blow out, Amy disappears, a fire breaks out. The quiet, slow-burn anxiety Fear the Spotlight was brewing for the first two-thirds of my hands-on immediately shifts into heart-pounding fear, as you have to run through the library to escape the fire and end up sprinting through a bizarre tear in the fabric of reality.

When my brief hands-on ended, I turned to the duo dev team and simply said, “Fuck yeah.”

Fear The Spotlight is shaping up to be a brilliant melding of old and new, a clear marker of Blumhouse’s excellent taste. It’ll relaunch later in 2024 for PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, and PC. PlayStation 4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch, and PC.

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