Thursday, July 16, 2015

Rose Cottage, by Saturnine

(Rose Cottage was originally uploaded on October 31st, 2009)

~Rose Cottage, by Saturnine

            Playing through “Rose Cottage” for the first time is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It is, I think, the greatest haunted house experience in gaming. As I said in the previous post, when it comes to horror or haunted movies, I prefer those that emphasize atmosphere and fear of the unknown. The 1960s version of The Haunting is a favorite of mine. It gives me what I want from a haunted-house movie. “Rose Cottage” is the 1960s The Haunting of game experiences.

Of course, here we’re dealing with a different plane—interactivity, exploring a virtual environment—and on that note, “Rose Cottage” operates on a horror-design philosophy that runs parallel with mine. Atmosphere is established and maintained, and none of the jump scares are cheap. The dread when exploring the Hollow Lane Mortuary, setting of “Rose Cottage”, is real. (I mean, look at the video below. If you were behind the mouse and keyboard, could you explore that house?)

Unlike the other fan-mission videos, I only include gameplay recording from the beginning of “Rose Cottage”. It also only has one ‘take'.

I don’t include footage of the whole mission because I think it would defile the experience. I don’t think the “Rose Cottage” experience can be captured in video. Of course, that could be said for any mission I’ve covered (hah!). Indeed, the nuance of playing a Thief mission can only be experienced and enjoyed by…playing it. But, this is especially true for those with a horror atmosphere. And even more especially true for “Rose Cottage”.

In this mission, you do not play as Garrett, but as a paranormal investigator, and you've been hired by a mortician to discover why his home and adjacent morgue have become haunted. 
If you haven't been watching all the videos so far, I encourage you to watch this one. So turn out the lights, put on the headphones, make it full screen, and enjoy a taste of "Rose Cottage":

“Rose Cottage” isn’t just great for its horror atmosphere. It also has a clever, adventure-style ‘object hunt’ type of gameplay. For example: the mortician’s daughter has a special UV light, but it needs batteries. You need to find the batteries, put them in the light, and then use it. Using the light will reveal arrows drawn on the floor by the little girl with a special kind of crayon. These lead to a secret she’s hidden, and that is also essential to the completion of the mission.

Finding keys, finding and figuring out how to use items, and opening up gateways from the other side are a few designs that make “Rose Cottage” a great experience all around, atmosphere and gameplay included.

“Rose Cottage” is an example of how Thief’s emphasis on unguided exploration in an atmosphere-of-intimidation makes a great recipe for a horror experience. I’m too jaded to be wowed by today’s horror-themed games; I play Thief missions.

~ (Do note that “Rose Cottage” is not the last look at a horror level in this project. The last mission I look at, Thief III’s “Robbing the Cradle”, is another brilliant horror experience.)

*Also: if you'd like to read the words of one of the fan-mission authors, read through this interview that one TTLG member conducted with Saturnine.

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