I’m always a firm backer of indie developers and the games they produce; they create a greater variety of games for us to enjoy and even sometimes give us a totally different view of a very common genre. This is what the collaboration of Revolab, Ivan Zanotti and Bellini Virgil have achieved with Calm Time.
This low-res 3D game achieves more in its very short run through than some mainstream horror games achieve over hours and hours of gameplay. I’m going to go into a bit of detail on what makes this game so remarkably unsettling to play.
The purpose of the game alone is disturbing. Calm Time starts you off in your house; a rather sizable place which you live in by yourself. You’ve thrown a party and as such you have a multitude of people wandering around your home.
You have no indication as to what you’re supposed to do and can spend time wandering around to get familiar with your surroundings. However, you will inevitably end up in the kitchen at some point where a girl will ask you to pass her a knife for the food.
You then pick up the knife only to realise that all you can do is stab her with it. You have to watch as the sprite screams horribly and crumples in a pool of blood. An onlooker sees what you’ve done and panic spreads throughout the house.
This is when you see what you’re supposed to do; your role in this game is to murder all of your guests. You have to hunt them all down and massacre them without any clear reason why. That alone made me feel uneasy; especially since one of your victims is a young boy.
While we’re on the subject, the NPC’s in the game are one of the most unsettling things about the game. They, unlike the environment, are 2D and have no animation for their motion. They just kind of glide around. They also have no facial detailing; just blank skin coloured ovals.
However, they do have a voice. Granted, the only time you hear it is when they’re screaming but creepy nonetheless. Their sprites also double over when you stab them once and their movement slows, as if they’re struggling to move with their wounds.
The second stab will then kill them and they’ll let out a chilling scream before falling like your first victim in the game. Oh, and never mind the fact that every time you kill one a spectre of a dead woman you had chained up in your basement appears above their bodies.
I don’t know about you but that’s a whole lot of nope right there.
Another thing about the game that gives me the shivers is the music; there is none. The whole game is completely silent other than the sound effects of the NPC’s and the occasional trill of a few piano keys at random intervals.
It makes the whole atmosphere seem very unavoidable and claustrophobic, even as you play as the killer. The only other ‘sound’ you hear is if you stab the ghostly woman; the screen will break out into static for a moment with a harsh white noise and then when your vision returns she’ll be gone.
The game isn’t very long, but being in such a quiet, eerily serene environment gives you a real sense of evil. In a way it really makes you aware of what you’re doing and that can disturb you as much as the actual game.
The fact that the game is so silent makes it remarkably sinister; sometimes less really is more when it comes to the horror genre. If you end up crapping bricks it won’t be because the games luring you in with jump scares and tense music; it’ll be because you’re scaring yourself. That, to me, is the mark of a fantastic game.
Also, lets take into account that the game is free AND it took one week to make for part of a contest. The sheer simplicity works in its favour as it has over 100 ratings on it’s website and the average consensus from this gives it a 4.6/5.
I seriously recommend you give this game a try if you’re wanting to experience horror in an entirely different light from the norm. Taking a maximum of half an hour out of your day to experience this will leave you with chills that Resident Evil or F.E.A.R just can’t compete with.
You can get Calm Time for yourself on the official page here. Be sure to leave a rating and any comments for these guys: every little helps!