Astral is a first-person survival horror game with third-person cutscenes and immersive storytelling. The focus of the game is for the player to progress through each level, not concerning themselves with winning, but rather focusing on the game’s story and atmosphere and the challenges it has to offer. The player must navigate their way through a city that seems to have a life of its own, filled with mysterious characters, journal entries, notes and other documents that unravel a story unlike any other, full of mystery and malice.
• Runs on Frictional Games’s H.P. Lovecraft 1 engine under an open source license free of royalties
• First person gameplay with an emphasis on agility, physics, quick wit and accurate calculation
• Centers around the player’s ability to think and react upon instincts quickly to avoid and evade danger
• Monsters cannot be killed, but can be harmed or slowed by objects in the world, such as rocks or chairs
• Immersive storytelling based on thousands of years of lore, mystery and strange people
• Four separate paths the character can take, each path corresponds with a level of puzzle difficulty and ultimately leads to four separate endings in which the player must battle four separate boss monsters, each with a difficulty corresponding to the puzzle complexity of the path chosen.
• The four bosses are the four Dark Gods of the Abyss that are mentioned throughout the game.
The game will be sold through Valve’s online videogame platform Steam via digital download. Copies of the game may also be purchased (pending approval) through other online platforms such as GameFly’s Direct2Drive service.
Astral seeks to emulate the experience of fear players get with games such as Resident Evil, Condemned: Criminal Origins, and S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and intensify the fear factor, while minimizing the combat factor and forcing the player to rely more on their surroundings and their own intelligence and quickness.
Some of the monsters that the player encounters are highly intelligent and very attentive, and if the character so much as bumps a chair, those monsters will be alerted to their presence. These monsters run more slowly than the player and are slightly weaker than other monsters, but can easily trap the player if they are not careful. Other monsters are not as intelligent or alert, but have greater speeds and hit harder. These monsters are easier to outsmart, but they run up to three times as fast as the player and many can easily kill the player in a single strike.
The physics system utilized in the game allows the player to grab and manipulate anything that is loose in the world, and they can use a variety of objects to their advantage, such as single-shot firearms, flares, rocks and other breakable/throwable objects to slow down monsters or even stop them in their tracks to grant the player an opportunity to get away. However, that being said, some monsters will become enraged by these actions where others are crippled for a few brief moments. The stronger monsters will be staggered momentarily but will eventually only become enraged and run much more quickly and hit much harder than before. The Savant will become smarter, stronger and faster the more damage he takes, eventually becoming as strong and as fast as the Cannibal while retaining a high degree of intelligence, making him a highly formidable opponent who should be entirely avoided as best as possible. The Savant is the only enemy that is capable of such strength and brutal intelligence, and he is reserved for the path that leads to the most difficult puzzles and endgame boss, the path of K’thulh.
As an MT exclusive, I have decided to write up the entire first level of the game as a narrative for members of this site to view as they wish. As a thank-you, I will continue to post exclusive content on the game's development, as well as take MT user advice into consideration in the final production. Have fun with the text demo, and I hope you enjoy.
You wake up in a strange office, settled in what appears to be a police precinct. You've a badge on you in your pocket, so you assume you're a detective or something similar. In your pocket is a mysterious note. Its contents are highly cryptic, and you struggle to decipher any meaning in them.
If you are reading this, I am dead. The demons have pressed too hard on my fragile state and have shattered my will and drive. I have experienced unimaginable horrors, and I only wish to forget it all. I only wish it all away.
My only regret is that I spoke nothing of the monsters. I feel as though my mind is slipping. It is plunging straight into a deep chasm, and I can do not much to stop it. For fear of ridicule, I kept this secret locked away, but it has served neither me nor any others any good. I wish I could warn them of the creatures, I wish I could warn them of me. The hellish force of the creatures from a world beyond our fancy and comprehension has pushed my mind straight from its home and delivered it into a deep abyss where I can do nothing much at all but wallow in my own self and try to make sense of all this madness.
It is all up to you. You must break the loop. I cannot explain what is going on, because I cannot comprehend it myself, but you must find strength to carry on until it is done. There is a darkness pressing on our mind. You must find it within yourself to grab ahold of anything you can until you can climb back up the chasm.
What does it all mean? Chasm? Demons? What on earth is this letter referring to? Nevermind that, you're in a strange place with a strange note. It's about time you moved on. As you exit what is presumable your office, you find that there are wooden desks splintered, papers scattered about and claw marks engraved into the wall. What the hell happened here? You feel the need to investigate further, but it is clear after a few short minutes of scanning that nothing of importance will be made readily available to you. You decide to investigate beyond the precinct, exiting the building and looking back at it in all its disrepair.
You walk down the streets, many of the paths blocked off by rubble or barriers, some of them even set aflame. It has become clear that many things are amiss, and with the strange moans and groans and the thick fog you realize it is not safe out in the open. You duck in for shelter at a nearby high school. Your head starts aching, and you see shadowy figures, haunted memories of the children who used to attend the school flocking into a classroom. After a pulsating bell. What the hell was all that? Your headache is flaring.
You follow what you've understood to be kids into the classroom only to be stopped by the locked door. You listen in and can hear one of them, a child with a very raspy voice, asking permission to go to the nurse's office. You open the door of the classroom to find nobody is there. There is a pair of heavy duty pliers on one of the desks that you pick up. The school is in pretty poor shape, and there's likely to be rooms whose locks have rusted shut or something like that. You never do know.
You check out the infirmary, which is only a stone's throw away from the classroom you were in, quite actually. You walk in and hear voices, just like before. The kid with the raspy voice asks the nurse if he's alright. She tells him he's ill and needs to go home for the day. He asks her if he could use the restroom in there since he had to go. She states that another student is utilizing the facility and remarks on the length of time he has occupied the lavatory. Suddenly, the water closet door creaks open eerily, but you decide to go in anyway. Your headache is persistent.
In there you find a corpse, freshly killed with a blade through his artery. It appears to be suicide. He is clutching a note in one hand, so you take it and read it.
These are my final words… The gods demand my life… They will use it to punish the wicked… and deliver me from my shame-
Man, what's with all these cryptic notes lying about? You take the bloody knife he had with him and stick it in your coat pocket, wiping it off before you do. Once again, you never do know. Upon investigating the rooms further, you discover a vial of what appears to be blood in the art classroom. Your vision is drawn to it, and when you stare at it your head begins to itch and your brain begins to hurt even worse than it already is. You're on a roll with picking up weird junk, so you grab it. As soon as you touch it, the pain subsides and you feel very relieved. The vial is very tiny, so it isn't heavy at all, and at least now your headache is gone. What a strange thing, though, that a vial of blood would cause you headache.
You step back into the hallway, and your attention is drawn to an odd seal drawn on the wall in a luminescent red paint or something with a note attached beside it to the wall.
SCHOOL SECURITY INCIDENT REPORT
Case Number: 02-93-0042a Date: Feb. 2, 1993 Incident: Sexual Assault & Potential Assisted Suicide Reporting Officer: Tyrone Baker
On Jan. 28, 1993 the office received several notes suggesting that students were being sexually victimized. Security brought in several students in for questioning Jan. 29, one day thereafter. A few students exhibited strange, uneasy behavior, especially a young man named Carl Jenkins. Students reportedly fidgeted often, not resting well in their seats and answering questions deliberately, with delayed response. Investigations proved fruitless.
Today, approx. one half-hour passed, attending nurse Hope Carlson discovered student Carl Jenkins deceased in the infirmary lavatory. The student had taken his life by cutting his right arm’s artery near the wrist with a sizable pocket knife, found inches away from his left hand. In that hand he held a note that described in detail the instances of sexual molestation and strange liturgies performed by the teacher.
The headmaster has ordered this incident be kept confined to within the school’s administration and the student’s immediate family. A very well-dressed man is here at the school, and he will be presiding over a communal purification ritual in a few short minutes. The teacher has been apprehended and the Police have not been notified. The headmaster spoke of a Conr’mpo and the Dark Gods of the Abyss. He will call upon the gods to lend us their strength, and change his skin into a putrid carapace which no blood drawn of a youthful victim can be tolerated, not even at its most diluted level. He will never be able to abuse children again, especially not with his own body. Needless to say, I trust the headmaster’s judgment wholly and shall partake in this ritual.
What the hell is going on? Child molesters? Dark Gods? The Abyss? Why weren't the police contacted for this incident? Why was it covered up, and most of all what the hell is a Conr'mpo?! There were a lot of really odd things going on that needed some damn answers.
After scoruing almost every room except the girl's bathroom, you stand out in the hallway before its door, knowing you would have to check it out. Maybe there would be a key or something in there? It felt wrong, but then again so did this whole place. You take a deep breath and waltz right in. The room is almost completely rust and frame. The only thing that's not been torn apart is the linoleum floor. Hanging from the ceiling are chains with young girls and boys attached to them. It all seems truly despicable, but you did not come in here for that. Suddenly, you hear a shuffling and banging noises in the last stall at the end of the long row of them.
You can hear the stall lock slowly shift over, and the door slowly creaks open, revealing a horrible figure. It is what was once a man, made of several torsos, several sets of arms, no legs and no face. Just a giant, piercing grin. It slithers its way slowly towards you, taking its time and crawling at a deliberate pace. The door behind you becomes blocked by some type of organic tissue. It's clear there's no escape. A few drops of blood rain from the bodies in the ceiling, burning its flesh and making it grimace before restoring its devilish smile. The note suddenly makes sense, and you get an idea. You take the pliers you grabbed earlier and twist one of the bolts on a section of the sink piping. You only hope that this plan works.
You manage to rip the bolt right out of its place and turn on the water. The waterlines explode, and a section of the pipe smacks you straight in the eye, badly damaging you, but not knocking you out. As the water floods the room, you take the vial of blood out of your bag and shatter it right on the door of the stall, the blood pouring forth into the massive pool and singing the Conr'mpo's flesh and bones down until he is a bloody pulp. You turn the water off and make your way over to the stall from which he came. Within it, you find a key labeled "LOUNGE," along with a few vials of Codeine and a crowbar lodged in the wall. It could possibly work as a weapon at the very least. This was for the room in the back of the hallway on the second floor!
You raced to the door, unlocking it and pressing on, shaking yourself off of the incident. On the wall you find a map of the school. It is sectioned off into three separate "Houses," aptly named A, B, and C, A being relative east, and A being relative west. Each House was isolated from the next by a large set of multiple double-doors. From the map you were in A House the entire time, and the way the Lounge stretched back, it extended all the way to B and C houses. A House contained the exit, which you came in from, and the infirmary. B House contains a library and the security office, while A House held the main office and entrance. Additionally, easternmost on the map are the music rooms, the cafeteria, the boiler room and the theater.
You make your way over to C House, however the door is blocked off by rubble. Bummer, but B House was open, as you saw passing by. You exit on the second floor of B House. There are a few items scattered about, most notable a vial of morphine and a single-shot firearm. You make your way into the library. Something similar has happened here as did in the precinct. There are scratches on the wood, bookshelves topples, shredded papers everywhere and an area of the concrete wall completely pockmarked by bullet-holes. The only thing left remotely intact is the librarian's desk, and the only thing sitting atop it is a newspaper article clipping. It seems fairly interesting, so you pick it up and read it.
One of the many mysteries of England today is the academy in Ianbrough. This particular learning institution was established by a most peculiar man from an English colony in the Caribbean. He built the school in 1794, back when the town was in its infant stage, still a farming village. It has been seen through multiple repairs throughout its years under the headmaster, most minor structural reinforcements or things of the like. Two instances stick out greatly, however.
In 1992, it was heavily damaged by a flood, and was repaired immediately within a day and upgraded with extensive technology that far exceeded the limitations of even modern standards. Most of Ianbrough was damaged as well, though repairs for that took several weeks. In 2024, it was destroyed by an earthquake that left the town stricken by grief. The school was entirely demolished and unsalvageable. The headmaster, named Bra- [The rest of the article is illegible, and actually appears to have been devoured by some beast with a terribly large bite.]
Honestly, you think nothing of the sizable chunk missing that was taken out by a bite of some creature with a large mouth. Maybe it was the Conr'mpo, he had a pretty big kisser. You're mostly perturbed that the article was probably robbed of relevant information regarding your current predicament. As you place the article in your pocket, you hear a long, drawn out moan. You peer out of the library window and see a silhouette of some large humanoid thing walking towards you. You decide it's probably no friendlier than the Conr'mpo, so you hide behind a bookshelf.
The monster was a hulking thing, with massive proportions and what seemed like it could be infinite strength within his figure. Yeah, that crowbar didn't seem so weapon-y anymore. The creature stomped its way into the library, stopping to sniff into the air, as if it had caught something, or was searching for something. Could it be after you? You dare not peer out too far, lest it catch you out of the corner of its... eye? If it had such a thing. It makes its way towards the opposite end of the room, fortunately for you. It grabbed a pile of books and shoved them into its gaping mouth, which seemed to stretch impossibly far. Well, at least you know what the hell ate the newspaper article. It stormed its way back out, disappearing into the darkness. There was no telling where the hell it went from there, but you sure weren't going to find out.
Opposite of the room there's a small hallway that seemed unobstructed. You make your way over to it and find an elevator at the end of the hallway. It's a damn miracle it still worked. You take it down a floor and end up in the main office. The door leading into A House is barred up big-time, and there was no way you were going to get it open in a timely manner. You look around and find the custodial office and supply closet. On the wall you find a key ring, and you snatch them up to find a key to A House from B House. You travel back up the elevator and into B House. You can only hope that monster isn't still lurking around somewhere.
You come out of the library and descend the steps, making your way over to the doors to A House. You unlock the doors but you hear a rumbling coming from behind you and look back. It only gets louder and louder, until you make the quick connection with the newspaper article. It made sense in this senseless school, and soon enough your theory proved itself as the doors of C House burst open, flooding B and A Houses with a sizable mass of water, making a mess of things. You're knocked off your feet, but you get up and trudge along. However, A House was not as it was laid out on the map. You hear a grumbling behind you and glance back, only to see a strange ball of darkness submerged underneath the water. You realize quickly it isn't good for you and book it.
The water is tough to wade through, so you climb atop the desks and jump from crate to boulder to table to chair and back to desks again, just making a path out of anything you can visibly see floating in the water. You make your way through a series of strange classrooms, with hanging wires and cords and circuits and floating rubble about and pieces of impossible geometry in the recesses of the darkness beyond the ceilings. You come out to a lengthy hallway, but there are no more desks or rubble. You shut the door behind you to buy you some time and wade in the water as fast as you can. The monster bursts through the door in no time, and you try to pick up the pace as best as you can. It catches up quickly and shoots out an dark arm from nothingness and grabs you by the leg. You pull out that single-shot pistol and blast that damned appendage right off and into the next realm. You run faster and faster until you reach the metal door at the end and plunge straight through it, shutting it behind you and holding it closed, expecting it to come of its hinges if you didn't. You turn around to find that you're now in the regular A House. Insane.
The upper floor is blocked off and all the classrooms are barred, and you don't have enough time to go through them all. You make your way over to the doors to the theater area. The door is rusted shut, but you manage to pry it open with your crowbar. You step through and look around. The music hall is blockaded and the cafeteria is boarded up, though you can see through the window and can find nothing of use in there. You enter the theater, and on the stage you see an odd shrine with a mysterious idol perched atop the pedestal sitting there. The backstage area is blocked by a mass of what appears to be tentacles. It's pretty clear you can't do much here, so you check out the boiler room.
In it is the school's generator system. It's pretty massive, and pretty impressive. You feel like you ought to get it turned on, seeing as that monster was in the water and there were all sorts of wires hanging about. Maybe if you managed to kill it those tentacles would go away? It was worth a shot in any case. You switch the lever, but nothing happens. What the hell? Maybe it's out of fuel? You grab the large gasoline container, expecting to have to use a bit of strength but instead almost throwing it halfway across the room. Empty. Well damn. You look out the window and see a strangely convenient gas station in the middle of all the fog. Why the hell not?
You waltz over to the gas station and fill it up. It becomes insanely heavy, especially because of its size and its honestly a bit of a struggle to get back to the school. As you're walking you hear a familiar groan from off in the distance. You look back to see a silhouette of a hulking figure coming from the fog. Shit! I've got to hide! You throw down the container and hide behind one of the pillars attached to the school's shaded walkway. The monster looks around, searching for something. Maybe he's looking for that newspaper article? If he is, then we're basically screwed! Maybe I can manage to... You crumple up the article and throw it on the ground. The monster doesn't seem to notice it immediate, but picks up its scent after a few brief seconds. He walks up to it, grabs it and devours the ball of paper. He then recedes back into the fog, leaving you safe to pick up the gas container. You're just full of luck, aren't you?
You make it back to the school and power the generator. Sure enough, the tentacles are gone. In the wall there's a hole just large enough for you to crawl through. You manage to make it to an area where it drops off, but you can't tell how far. You've come all this way, though, so no turning back. You plunge right into the dark pit, going downward and downward until-
"Hey! Detective Sleepyhead! Wake up!" a voice calls out from the darkness. You gasp and jolt awake, finding yourself in your office in the precinct. "We've gotta go, Michael, we got a distress call from out in Grangerby Apartments. You know, where that nice old lady Dr. McPherson lives. The one who makes the delicious biscuits, you nitwit, now come on man! Let's go."
The precinct looks to be in order and everything seems normal. What a horrible nightmare. You reach in your pocket and feel your badge. You pull it out to look at it, but a tiny slip of paper falls out when you open it. A memo to yourself? Ah well. You pick it up and read it. It says:
'You must break the loop.'
Lead Writer: Cullen Bentley
Lead Environment Artist: Josh Ross
Lead Composer: Alex Man
Concept art (2011-present) [WARNING: Contains NSFW Material!]