Not being able to see and understand something is a powerful source of fear. Standing in the dark is the ideal example. We hear, smell, and feel things that will not make sense, abstractions of being sightless. It is through our eyes that give us immediate information that there is nothing rational to be afraid of.
These fears are greatest as a child. You asleep alone in your room, with nightlight, or not, and you wake up in the middle of the night, and hear things moving around. Imagination tends to kick in and develops the worst case scenario. In most cases: Monsters.
"Boogeyman" is a game that plays with our fears from children up to our adult-child selves. The slightest groan of wood, the screech of a door as it slides open, something breathing through the ventilation shaft. Not knowing what's causing these sounds will cause unease. And that is where the game draws its strength from.
You play as 8-year-old Thomas, alone in his bedroom, armed with a flashlight that loses battery faster than Freddy Kruger gouging your eyes when you hit dreamland. An audio tape plays, retelling a tragic past, of a girl and her sister, and knowing the Boogeyman will get to her eventually. Thomas is in the same room now, reliving the nightmare prison night after night until the Boogeyman makes his claim.
The Boogeyman creeps, crawls, glides within the dark. It moves in a slow, meticulous pace, appearing in four possible locations: the door, air ventilation, window, and of course, the closet. Even as your battery dies out, the creature lingers, without lunging at the very opportunity it has to strike. No, the Boogeyman relishes on Thomas' increasing fear, savoring every moment. It bides its time, it's in no particular hurry, it will get the boy, and that much it knows for certain. Using the flashlight to ward off the Boogeyman offers little comfort. It will be back, maybe not tonight, but it will.
An owl is perched on the spiny-branched tree. Looking at Thomas, tilting its head, observing the child when and how he shall be consumed by the dark. It offers small comfort that there is something else living nearby, as a solemn company. Until of course it flies away. And Thomas is left alone with his flashlight.
Understanding the game is understanding the sounds. Each location where the Boogeyman may appear has a distinct sound. The door creaks, window slides open, you get the drill. Beaming at these places with the flashlight will turn away the Boogeyman. And even if you don't use the flashlight, the Boogeyman will take its time to get to you. It will enter the room, look at you for a moment too long, and only then, will it attack, and there's nothing anyone can do.
You also get batteries by looking underneath the bed, where one will roll toward Thomas. It is as if the Boogeyman itself is what supplies these batteries, tossing them to Thomas, and the girl before him. It toys with the children, fermenting their fears to become vintage wines.
Of course, no one believes Thomas, like the girl before him.
It may play like a "Five Nights at Freddy's" but the fear factor is deeper felt. The objective of the game is to survive each night. But as the nights go by, the less light there is, as the moon begins to shift into new phases. And on new moon, where the darkness is strongest at most, well, that's when the real shit happens.
"Boogeyman" can be downloaded in Steam.