Ever since the release of the iconic horror film Alien, space has always been a rather foreign and terrifying place for me to think about, simply because I will never know what could actually be out there. My mind races at thinking what other life there could be but I know that it is not somewhere that I’m engineered to go to. Space is cold, hostile and probably worst of all, completely silent, which can actually cause hallucinations. Space isn’t a place for humans to venture to, but we break those barriers anyways. Like a forbidden zone for humanity, the galaxy should be off-limits to mankind yet we have crossed that border into the unknown several times. Space horror is a genre that excels on showing us the horrors of what could go wrong on these bold journeys and fans thrive on seeing what other films, books or games imagine could possibly happen.
The genre of space horror isn’t just limited to books and movies. It also has had some excellent games like Dead Space and System Shock 2, all of which tap into that primal fear of the unknown. Anther game that hopes to also capture that feeling is Routine; a first person horror game that takes place on an abandoned moon base. With a retro-futuristic sci-fi feel and incredibly immersive movement, Routine takes cues from iconic space films like Moon and 2001: A Space Odyssey but turns them into your worst nightmare.
What is Routine?
Routine is a first-person horror game that sees you exploring an abandoned moon base to discover just what the hell happened to the people who disappeared. No, this is definitely not Dead Space or Alien: Isolation so shame on you for thinking like that. What Routine does differently is that it has a permadeath system, no HUD and no health packs. That’s right, Routine immediately throws you into the deep end and doesn’t help you out when you start to thrash in the water. A horror game with permadeath is definitely something to take note of because, without a doubt, it will ramp up the intensity of enemy encounters astronomically. With its-retro futuristic look of the 1970s and throwback to exceedingly tough games for systems like the NES or SNES, Routine hopes to offer an incredibly old school look and feel that doesn’t act like “Baby’s First Space Horror”.
What’s So Appealing?
Stacked with sterile corridors, lived-in workspaces and robotic announcers cheerily welcoming you to the station (blissfully unaware of the disaster that’s happened), Routine is hoping to do horror atmosphere right. The developers have gone on record to say that they hate that “Art Attack” style of blood smears on the wall and just want to make the game as creepy as possible with good ol’ fashioned lighting, sound and level design. Routine strikes a lot of people as Bioshock in space, where you soak in the atmospheric surroundings of once bustling location turned to ruin.
Routine also boasts a very minimalist HUD a la Dead Space’s minimum-distraction-for-maximum terror look. To access a computer, you’ll need to take out your engineer tool and then cycle through the menus all in real time. You can turn to look to the left if you hear a noise but can still work on accessing the computer. It’s all very seamless and works like you imagine it would. There’s no press X to open door, you’ll have to physically open the door by triggering open the lock on the computer with a mouse cursor. The game also has some impressive realness to the way the main character moves. His steps cause the first person camera to bob up and down, his breath rattles as he approaches a long, dark corridor and he peers slowly around the corner to look out for the source of that clanking noise. Routine is an indie horror game that does a lot right and despite the little modern touches of the game, fans of old-school sci-fi horror should definitely take note of this.
When Can We Hear More?
Lunar Studios are hard at work right now on Routine but they assure fans that progress is being made, despite the updates. The studio don’t want to give a release date just yet as they’re terrified of giving an accurate time, so they’ll let people know when they hope to release it as it gets closer to completion. Lunar Studios have mentioned that a PS4 release is a small possibility after they release the PC version.