Jump scares have become with synonymous with horror games, but that's not what horror is really about. At least not for The Mannequin, a game I encountered soon after entering EGX 2016 as it stood not 100 yards from the main entrance to the show.
It features a busted up and malformed mannequin that is used as a device to tell the story of a family who once lived in a home that has been left empty for decades.
Set in present day, The Mannequin is a story-based horror adventure game that is presented to the player via a first-person view. You play Lisa, a woman who has been asked by her father to help him clear out an old house his mother left to him and his family after her death.
She never wanted to live in there or rent out. She also did not want to sell it on for reasons she took to her grave. So the game opens up with Lisa stumbling through the door to this old house to find it deteriorating badly due to neglect. Lisa suspects she is the first person to have stepped into the house for many years and she is about to find out why.
Not wishing to share any spoilers here, I shall only explain what I experienced during the demo, with a key plot point being the presence of the mannequin. The player finds this object on the second floor of the three storey home. It lies on the floor, broken into many pieces.
The player is expected to reassemble the mannequin and stand it up. Why anyone would do this in a house that has been deserted for many years, and with the electricity on the brink during a raging storm that doesn't seem to want to end any time soon I do not know. But that's exactly what happens.
Lo and behold, the construction of the mannequin begins a series of supernatural events that turn the abandoned house into some kind of first-person diorama with horrifying event after horrifying event being told to the player via a series of gruesome scenes.
It's all portrayed by mannequins in various poses and in some cases dismemberment. You have been warned! To say it's creepy is not really strong enough in my view, so let's go with outright disturbing and leave it at that.
Developer Two Tails is trying to break free from the trappings of the current genre of horror games that rely on jump scares to entertain and engage with their audience. Instead the player is meant to be moved by the story that unfolds before them and not the setting itself, which only acts as a delivery device.
From what I played of The Mannequin Two Tails may be able to pull this feat off. Expect to see it out this year for Windows PC, Mac and Linux.