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What Makes This 15-Minute Horror Game So Scary? – How Deppart Prototype Messes With You

The game that loves messing with you
Image N4bA

I don’t know about you but it takes a lot for me to get jumpscared. Whilst I will typically put this kind of horror at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to content that gives me a good scare, there is something about an actually well-placed and executed jumpscare that really gets me excited. The build of dread and paranoia has to be on another level to that of what we typically see in horror films of the person anxiously and at a granny-pace walk towards a door just to turn the handle even slower to reveal a jumpscare a second later than expected. This is rarely achieved in all forms of media due to the overused method of scaring people with the jumpscare. But N4bA is masterful in their craft, with yet another short banger on their horror game list that will leave you in tears. Be it from its scares or its ridiculous ending. This is Vincent’s thoughts on Deppart Prototype.

Why is Deppart Prototype so Scary?

The history of N4bA (in regard to what is popular on YouTube) is as follows: Wrong Floor, 9 Childs St and Deppart Prototype. What these games all have in common is their ability to mess with you in the dark, dealing with the timeless fear of all of us being afraid of what lurks in the shadows. Whilst many horror games address this fear, many do not do it well like N4bA does. This Developer loves placing you in a moment of safety, sanity and comfort. Typically in a place well-lit, with little to no danger around. They ask you to take a dive into the darkness because there is nowhere else to go but to venture inside. The game is pointing you that way and whilst you could simply turn the game off, where is the fun in that?

In describing the Developer as masterful in lighting, it is on par with the lighting seen only in the likes of P.T. Whilst the level design is nothing to admire, their use of total darkness and one light on the verge of going out automatically makes you feel unsafe and desperate to stay close to what you deem to be safety. Because without light, how are you meant to fight your way out? Combined with the use of a weapon, the handgun, implying that you are about to face enemies that will inevitably attack you, you know that the source of light is the only way of surviving. With a magazine loaded into the gun, you wonder, do you have limited bullets that you need to ration out. N4bA points out to players before starting the game that ‘enemies can kill you in one hit’, instantly placing you in a state of panic where shooting blind could get you killed.

With the consistent creation of horror games where the protagonist is unarmed and the main method of winning the fight is through evasion. Be that hiding in a locker, under the bed or waiting alone in the darkness and riding out the storm, Deppart Prototype forces a weapon into your hands because fighting is inevitable. You do not know what you will face yet as you slowly peak around every corner, but you know that the threat is there and it is real.

Liminal Space and Claustrophobia

It is probably a terrible comparison to make for N4bA games feeling similar to Liminal Horror such as The Backrooms or Anemoiapolis but with its limited design (likely picked for simplicity when coding), Deppart Prototype naturally makes players panicked and stressed due to its tight corridors and labyrinth style design that makes you feel like you are constantly heading into dead ends. It is rare to truly feel trapped inside a unit with few other games achieving this such as P.T and Iron Lung but Deppart Prototype feels incredibly tight as though the space you are traversing through is designed to tighten your chest also.

The claustrophobic feeling is increased by the choice to make this a body-cam horror in which players are forced to view the game through the lens of a camera rather than through the eyes of the protagonist. We will typically be placed into the eyes of the protagonist, imagining the horrors from a first-person POV and placing ourselves inside their shoes. It is why often you will never get a name or a face given to the protagonists. But in Deppart Prototype, having the POV placed inside the camera makes for a more uneasy feeling in that you feel as though you are watching back footage of an Officer who’s mission has gone horribly wrong. Starting the game inside what looks like a cell, with your handgun taken from you, the footage from now records the action the Officer takes to leave the unknown place filled with horrors that many could actually imagine.

The Fear of Normalcy and Stranger Danger

The horror in Deppart Prototype is one that will always make me more terrified than the content being supernatural, extra-terrestrial or cosmic. The horrors that await you are deranged humans, hiding their face through the use of masks. Their choice to hide their identity solidifies the fact that these humans are out for your blood and that you will not get out of the place alive. With their inhuman screams pushing past the point of being something that you could maybe sympathise with or understand, the enemies in Deppart Prototype are the stuff or real life nightmares. Its setting alone is enough to put you on edge.

The best of Indie Horror follows the theme of real life terrors, be it Serial Killers, Stalkers or Invaders, there is something significantly scarier about the horror of strangers over anything else. It is the fact that you can literally put yourself in the shoes of the protagonist as the setting and story is not farfetched that it is impossible to imagine as a possible reality. But we all can agree that being placed in danger by the action of a stranger is one of the scariest things that can happen to us in real life.

Whilst I will admit that the horror sometimes borders on satire with the ending being the primary example. This is likely done as N4bA not taking their work too seriously. We have seen more serious, fully takes from the Developer which show exactly what they are made of. Deppart Prototype is literal what the name suggests, a short prototype to test the capabilities of their horror and how their games are received by the public. Whilst polish is needed in certain areas such as the flashing lights used for the final fight sequence, this is not a problem with a game so short as this one and being free-to-play.

Will Deppart Prototype Inspire More Photo-Realism Horror?

I am a sucker for the PS1 aesthetics that are being used in recent horror games. Perhaps it is the nostalgic feel for the simpler life of a child or that surreal, twisted horror is better achieved through the older, sharper and grungier graphics of the PS1. It is similar to the infinite possibilities of Anime, where a drawing can depict any setting and illicit any emotion unlike real life due to the inevitable comparison we make as it describes an unrealistic setting in a setting we all partake in, every day. Regardless, the PS1 style of horror over the past few years has blown up, which allows many Developers to try their luck at horror. But Indie Developers rarely dive into the real of realism.

With technology getting more and more advance where it is now impossible for our parents to tell the difference between The Last of Us II or the TV Show Adaptation, photo-realism is a path that feels like many Developers should be going down for horror. What Deppart Prototype does incredibly well is that it genuinely feels real. This is likely thanks to the lighting however the hand and gun look immaculate, with the light glistening off the weapon and a flawless animation to follow of aiming down sights, peering around the corner or interacting. If horror games decide to continue down the path of realism, there is not much stopping games from becoming the next film. With the perfect jumpscare (if you have seen or played the game, you know what I am referencing) that sets Deppart Prototype from the rest, making it a great attempt at a short horror film instead of just a video game.

What did you think about Deppart Prototype? For such a short game and one that had a comedic ending, it is interesting just how much this game affected those who played it. I wonder what will be N4bA’s next project. For my personal Indie Developers to look out for, N4bA has definitely been added to the list. Joining Chilla’s Art, Puppet Combo, Rayll, MANGLEDmaw Games and MyMadnessWorks. Looking for more horror content? Be sure to check out GJ’s related articles here. Thank you for reading.

About the author

Hadley Vincent

Hadley is a Freelance Writer for Gamer Journalist. They have been with the company since October 2022. With a BSc Honors in Psychology, Hadley focuses their creativity and passion for Video Games by primarily covering Horror, FPS, and anything with a great narrative. You will often find Hadley covering the latest indie horror games or deploying into Call of Duty's DMZ. They love a good story and one that can keep them up at night, be that for its scares or its lore.

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