Duck Hunt Meets Five Nights At Freddy’s In Stress Level Zero’s Next VR Game
Duck Season is easily my favorite premise for a VR game. For anyone in the age range of about 30-45, the upcoming release from Stress Level Zero will be a giant nostalgia trip with a freaky twist.
The 1980s are in full swing and my virtual living room looks like it fits perfectly into that time period. My mom brings home a copy of the popular game Duck Season as a one day game rental, and I’m going to spend all day playing it on a giant box television. The toy gun for the game is sitting on the floor among a heap of game cartridges and VHS tapes. Most of these are playable, so I can grab a tape or one of the cartridges and check it out.
There is a copy of the game Sinatra, for example. I stick that in the game system and I quickly recognize the startup screen for Contra with “Sinatra” spelled out instead. The little mini-game is reminiscent of a cross between Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker and Streets of Rage. A crying Sinatra pops up whenever I die.
When I get to the Duck Season cartridge I actually go inside the television. If I turn around I can see the little boy that is me staring back through the television screen. It is a bit trippy. I pick up my shotgun and start loading shells to take out the ducks flying back and forth. Between rounds a creepy dog pops up from the brush and starts dancing. So I shoot him, just like I did that laughing mutt from the original Duck Hunt.
This might have been a mistake.
Later, when it is near midnight and I leave the game world, the lighting in that living room has darkened. Now it looks like something straight out of a childhood nightmare. If I stare at objects around the room, like the clock, the sound I hear slowly changes into a more haunting version of itself. Imagine listening to the slight ticking of a clock until it is the only thing drumming inside your skull.
“The various endings are determined by the players actions,” wrote Stress Level Zero’s Brandon Laatsch in an email. “Some elements of the sound design are driven subjectively. Focusing on them causes you to hear them how your mind might imagine them rather than how they actually sound.”
My skin starts to crawl and shivers run down my spine. I pick up the toy gun off the ground — will that help me here in the “real” world? I peek out the window nervously, turn around for fear there’s something hiding behind the couch and finally focus my attention on the door open a crack just to my left.
The dog is coming for me and I’m so scared.
The designers behind this world are Stress Level Zero, creators of the multiplayer shooting game Hover Junkers [Review: 7/10], and I found myself experiencing a range of emotions from laughter to straight-up fear inside a short tour of the experience at the Game Developers Conference last week. The game will feature different endings depending on what you do, including one for those that don’t shoot the dog. Laatsch says everyone shoots the dog though.
Stress Level Zero is planning to release Duck Season in the coming weeks. It is coming to SteamVR-compatible headsets with tracked controllers.