The medium of games is home to a multitude of different genres, and some are inarguably more popular than others. The survival horror genre is one that definitely falls under this category, with a slew of well-established franchises and exciting new IPs providing a constant influx of memorable experiences for the longest of times. That being said, there’s no shortage of promising releases looming over the horizon with games like Wronged Us and ILL leading the charge for the budding indie scene within the genre.
Today we will be looking at yet another similarly promising indie survival horror game that fans of the genre should keep an eye out for in the near future. Negative Atmosphere is an upcoming horror game from developer Sunscorched Studios. Originally revealed all the way back in 2019, the game reappeared last year in a much better shape than before – garnering a huge fanbase in the process.
Negative Atmosphere is a survival horror shooter that’s played from the over-the-shoulder third-person perspective. It takes heavy inspiration from EA’s Dead Space series, a franchise that has remained dormant for a long time now – although a remake of the first game is currently in development at EA Motive.
Negative Atmosphere takes place in a marooned spaceship by the name of TRH Rusanov, which is a direct nod to Dead Space‘s sci-fi backdrop. Players assume the role of protagonist Samuel Edwards, the chief medical officer of the ship crew who wakes up to find his friends strangely missing. As fate would have it, some form of deadly virus or plague has turned them into horrendous creatures with deformed and stretched limbs, and he must somehow make their way out of this nightmarish situation alive all while trying to uncover the many secrets that lie within TRH Rusanov’s four walls.
It’s a familiar retreading of the ground that the Dead Space series covered with its clearly incapable protagonist Isaac Clark rising to the occasion to ensure his survival. That being said, Negative Atmosphere does seem to have a few new tricks up its sleeve that differentiates it from its direct inspirations. You see, unlike Isaac Clark who was an engineer – our protagonist Samuel Edwards is a doctor who has extensive knowledge of chemistry and medicine allowing him to use all those techniques to craft a multitude of medications or explosives and whatnot.
As such, players will have the option to dispatch their enemies by using the many weapons on offer. Or you could instead try to cure your fellow crewmates by treating their infection using crafted medicines. Or you could instead inject yourself with some drug to make yourself stronger than before – allowing you to take up even tougher enemies. Combat works the same way as Dead Space, where players have to essentially target the many limbs of the enemies to sever them from their bodies. The weapons have the same futuristic designs reminiscent of EA’s premier survival horror games, although we don’t know much about how many different kinds of weapons Negative Atmosphere will be featuring at the moment.
This then ties in neatly to the game’s morality system. Much like immersive sims, Negative Atmosphere will also feature a morality system where player decisions will help shape the future of the story. What makes this part interesting is that morality isn’t supposed to be just a choice between good versus evil, and players will have to navigate through Edwards’ personality, backstory, and psychological coping mechanisms to make choices that would make sense for the person to make in that place. We don’t know the full extent of this choice and consequence system and how that would factor in moment-to-moment gameplay, but the proposed implementation certainly looks to be a fun twist on this tried-and-tested formula that’s becoming a mainstay for every AAA release. Developer Sunscorched Studios has a major opportunity to craft something exceptional in this case, and we are really hoping that the studio makes the most of this mechanic.
And we would be remiss if we didn’t talk about the spacesuit. Players can also get into what seems to be a heavy-duty Fallout-Esque armor for some good-old-fashioned action. The heavy chunk of metal should allow players to trade health points and damage for limited mobility while providing a sense of power fantasy that directly contrasts against the general horror vibe of the game.
If you look closely at the HUD of the power armor, you can also see a constantly flashing O2 sign – which could indicate that players might need to keep tabs on this ever-depleting resource at all times to ensure their survival. It certainly looks cool, as players should be able to crush those turned monsters easily beneath their feet when nestled in this armor – although it isn’t known whether the suit will be available to players at all times or only in select sequences.
Negative Atmosphere also looks really gorgeous, both on a purely technical level as well as from an artistic perspective. It’s built using Unreal Engine 4 and showcases a slew of impressive graphical details in its gameplay trailers. It isn’t known whether the development will be shifting over to Unreal Engine 5, although the developers have stated that they will continue to update production to the latest version of the engine. Either way, Negative Atmosphere boasts surface materials and textures that are all built using high-quality assets, and the volumetric lighting as seen in the game’s dimly-lit cramped hallways also looks supremely gorgeous in a similar vein. The game’s dark and dreary hallways with deadly monsters lurking around in every corner are enough to induce a palpable sense of tension in anyone – which bodes very well for its vision of making Negative Atmosphere a psychological horror game.
Now coming to the topic of development – Negative Atmosphere is a game that’s currently in development at Sunscorched Games, an indie developer that’s based in the UK. With only a dozen or so employees currently working on the game, Negative Atmosphere certainly seems to be punching well above its weight with its dark and dreary presentation and impressive graphics. That said, the actual development process has been far from smooth. As mentioned previously as well, Negative Atmosphere was originally shown off way back in 2019, but the game is still nowhere near release.
While that’s understandable given the limited manpower and Patreon-funded resources at the project’s disposal, the future isn’t looking to be the brightest for Negative Atmosphere as of now. Of course, that doesn’t take away its strong suits by any means. It’s still a darn impressive game that has its place in the market, even if Dead Space is making a return sometime in the near future. Here’s hoping that Sunschorched Studios is able to see the project through to completion and fulfill its creative vision of crafting one hell of a psychological horror experience.
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