Once thought far too cheesy to bring with us into the modern gaming era, FMV has been enjoying a bit of a renaissance over the last decade, thanks to games like Her Story and Alan Wake. If you're not familiar, it stands for full-motion video—in other words, it's when live-action filmed sequences are used in videogames. Also, it turns out it can be intensely creepy.
Even in this new age of FMV appreciation, upcoming survival horror game Tenebris Somnia uses it in an unusual way. As a woman investigating a house plagued by terrors, you explore a pixel art world reminiscent of classic point-and-click adventure games—Day of the Tentacle is what it brings to mind, for me. Colourful and a little cartoony, it doesn't strike too creepy a tone—that is, until the game cuts to an FMV sequence for a closer look at a grisly scene, or the introduction of a disturbingly deformed monster.
Though there are only a few short clips of the FMV in the trailer and current demo, I'm really impressed so far. These live action sequences wouldn't look amiss in a big budget horror movie, and the effects—particularly the monster, a truly horrible two-faced woman—are impressive, creative, and genuinely unsettling.
As it cuts back to the pixel art world, suddenly your imagination is filling in all the blanks. The pixelated version of the monster is rather less intimidating out of context, but having just been shown its 'real' form, your mind almost sees it as that. It's not completely seamless—the pixel art world could stand to be a little darker and sharper for a better blend between the two. But then the fact that the transition can be a little jarring itself throws you off-balance—across a full playthrough I could see it being a great tension-building tool, as you cling to the less immediately threatening reality and dread triggering the creepy FMV scenes.
Though Tenebris Somnia doesn't yet have a release date, you can get a taste of it already by downloading the demo on Steam. Just don't let the monster get a taste of you…