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Play the demo of Kriophobia, a survival horror game with a comic book aesthetic

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Survival horror, these days, can mean a lot of things. Maybe it's blasting away monsters in Dead Space, or running from them endlessly in Amnesia: The Dark DescentKriophobia is something both weirder and more traditional. It's a point-and-click horror game with the old-school fixed cameras of Resident Evil or Alone in the Dark, set in a mysterious Cold War military facility... of some sort. But instead of trying for a cinematic look, the team behind it — Brazilian mobile studio Fira Soft — is drawing straight from the world of comics. "Those gritty, gritty graphic novels and comic books that we would have in the ‘90s, like Frank Miller — those really dark Batman comics," Fira Soft creative director Felipe Modesto told The Verge. "That inspired us a lot, especially for the art style."

You could compare Kriophobia to a lot of things, but it isn't quite any of them. The Walking Dead is a horror title drawn from graphic novels, but Kriophobia's art style is more lo-fi, and it's more focused on exploration and puzzles than quicktime events and interpersonal conflict. The former Soviet Union is a favorite site for horror games, but its slightly cartoonish, painted feel and simple interface set it apart from shooters like Metro 2033 and STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl. Its plot, in which a geologist named Anna and her scientific team accidentally find an arctic compound full of horrors, evokes Frictional Games' excellent Penumbra series, especially since like many other survival horror titles, Kriophobia is supposed to be heavily Lovecraftian.

But where Frictional has slowly moved towards games that are purely experiential, removing weapons entirely from its horror games, Modesto thinks it's important for players to know they might be forced into combat. "It's not true to the nature of survival horror," he says of the weapons-free approach. "We want the player not to be able to fight everything and kill everything, but fight when it's necessary."

Kriophobia is nearing the end of a crowdfunding campaign, and it's got an early demo on its Kickstarter page. It's a fairly small part of the game, and Fira Soft wants to use any funds to hire a writer to rework the dialogue and story, among other things. But it still puts players in an eerily desolate environment with a unique style, preserving some of the most classic elements of survival horror without the feeling of constantly fighting an interface. Go ahead and check it out.