Conscript is one of the most unique horror games I’ve ever seen, and it’s unsettling in all the right ways. There’s nothing scarier than real life itself, after all, and Conscript takes place within the trenches of World War I while drawing from iconic games like Resident Evil 4. You play as a lone French soldier navigating the brutal environment and solving complicated puzzles. At Gamescom, we got the opportunity to talk to Jordan Mochi, the solo Catchweight Studio developer behind the classic-inspired horror game.
Mochi studied history at university, going on to learn how to make games on his own via online tutorials and software like GameMaker. He took an interest in World War I, saying that “there are not many World War I games” and that “everyone just ignores it and goes straight to World War II.” The First World War also interested him because of its status as a “completely morally grey” event in contrast to the Second World War which is more “good and evil.”
When asked about any inspirations in particular outside of the event, Mochi cited games like Resident Evil 4, as well as its predecessors. he referred to Conscript as a “big mix of like a lot of the different Resident Evils.” Conscript deviates from such classics with its heavy real-world themes, though, as the First World War is central. There are no “crawling monsters” because “World War I was horrific enough” already.
“You don’t need a metaphor,” Mochi explained. “If you study the history well enough, it’s terrifying. It’s horrific.” Where “a lot of horror games go the monster route,” Conscript has horror that you “don’t need to make up.” It takes place in the Battle of Verdun over the span of two days, following a French soldier searching for his missing brother. It’s no coincidence that Mochi chose to focus on this battle, though, as he described it as “literally a meat grinder where men were just being sent in.”
“Verdun did seem pretty bad, compared to the rest.” Verdun also gave Mochi the opportunity to make use of a French soldier’s bright blue uniform, something he thinks will help players deal with low resolution. If you want to experience the game for yourself, you can download the free Conscript demo on Steam now. Conscript will launch in Q1 of 2024, so you’ll have to wait a bit longer before you can play the fully released version.
This is one game that truly doesn’t need anything other than reality itself to make it scarier than the likes of Resident Evil. While you wait to learn more about Conscript and its terror-inducing setting, you can have a look through some of our other favorite survival games if you need something else that’s just as thrilling to play through. Alternatively, check out a few of these great indie games if you want to experience other gems developed by smaller teams.
Gamescom 2023 reporting provided by Ed Smith.