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The Flock is the most terrifying game of red light, green light

Dutch indie developer Vogelsap's The Flock is the most terrifying game of red light, green light you will ever play.

Players step in the world of the "Flock," hunchback creatures that look like walking skeletons. These twisted beings are the last that walk the earth. Up to six players can join the game, playing as these sad and scary Flock as they try to survive in in a rocky wasteland. It's 3000 AD and all of humanity has been wiped out. Before they died, they sealed sunlight into a glowing circular artifact. Now, in a dark world choked with ash and smoke, the Flock have found it — and are using it to kill each other.

Game director Jeroen Van Hasselt describes the game as a suspense title, but is insistent it's not a horror game.

"In horror games, you have three parts," he explained to Polygon. "First you have the building-up phase, where you have lots of tension that grows over time. Then you have the shock, which in the case of The Flock is being killed or killing someone else. The third part is the part that defines it as horror: you have the bloody, goriest thing in the game. We don't have the last part in The Flock; we have you switch roles instead."

Instead, players must find the light artifact before the other Flock do, and try to stay alive as long as possible. Players holding the artifact become the carrier, and if the carrier shines light on another Flock they will die. Flock must remain completely still in the light of the artifact if the want to survive its light; any movement with result in an instant death.

It doesn't help that the game's audio is a low, sinister-sounding track that compliments the eerie, stoney cave system of The Flock's world. Players will move through this world is search of the carrier. Whether or not you're the one holding the light, however, seeing another Flock drop down in front or appear next to you is terrifying.

Van Hasselt said The Flock, created as a student project, began with a simple game of chess.

"I was thinking about chess, and how I could anticipate others' moves," he said. "I was thinking about how to visualize that. What if I could see where another player is looking?

"So I did a real-life playtest: I went into a dark room with a bunch of friends and a flashlight. If you tap the person holding the flashlight, you get the flashlight. But if you're caught in its light, you have to stay still, otherwise you lose."

Van Hasselt didn't want to play as a normal person; instead he chose deformed monsters as his playable characters because in horror games they are usually the enemy — and not the desperate, light-seeking victim.

"There are plenty of true horror games out there. I wanted to try something unique."

"You don't usually get to play as a monster," he said. "We worked closely with the design team to make sure they were creepy and powerful, but identifiable, because if you look, they really are human-like.

"They have to look like you, for it to be that way."

The Flock is currently still in development, though Van Hasselt said a few major publishers have approached him about the title and its chilling approach to integrating a multiplayer mode into what is essentially survival-horror game.

"You don't ever really see horror multiplayer games," he said. "That might be because it's too intense for some people. It's that psychological aspect: you play both roles, the hunter and the hunted, and after several rounds you've figured out the other players' moves and know how to get them.

"There are plenty of true horror games out there. I wanted to try something unique."

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