I wasn’t able to play the proposed games myself but I watched walkthroughs of them. I first watched a no-commentary walkthrough of 2:22 am, a game by umbrella-isle on itch.io, with the only instructions being “play at night” and “play alone”. I unfortunately watched this in a library (I was alone but it was definitely not nighttime). The first thing I noticed was that the stereo-panning of footsteps while in the labyrinth-like region was really unnerving – usually my own footsteps both in game and in real life sound like they are directly beneath me, but the game separated the right and left footsteps to play in my right and left ear, respectively. It made it seem like there were two people behind me, following me, which I thought was an interesting design choice. I found the low-poly bare-bones Unity scenes spliced with real-life shots (cars, water kettles, etc.) really jarring, but also hypnotic in a way – this being a walkthrough instead of me actively playing it may have also contributed to the feeling. It wasn’t at all scary, it just felt a little surreal and detached to me, as if I were in someone else’s dream. I’d like to play it for myself and in the dark as the creator intended sometime.
I also watched the silent walkthrough for Tenement by Kitty Horrorshow on itch.io. I instantly got the creeps. The sound design was great – the low static whirr sounds reminded me of a croaking, distorted voice. The writing style was haunting, and I felt like I was intruding on someone’s journal entry that I was not supposed to be reading every time a conversation happened. It kind of reminded me of a slightly toned down version of the book, The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner, namely the specific chapters where it’s just a stream of consciousness gibberish in a weirdly haunting way. The writing style was unnerving, strange, descriptive and visceral – it made me feel like I was looking at vulnerable snapshots of someone’s most secret thoughts.
I loved hearing the music evolve as the player journey between the overworld and sewer repeatedly. The movie signs changing was also a nice little touch. I would also like to play this game for myself in the future.