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Exclusive: Writer Of Lockdown Horror Hit ‘Host’ Is Aiming To Revolutionise FMV Games With ‘Ghosts’

Ghosts© Visible Games

Back in the ’90s, FMV video games were seen as a way of harnessing the amazing storage potential of CD-ROM to create immersive, life-like video games – but although cult classics like Night Trap found an audience, few would argue FMV gaming was a true revolution; the lack of interaction was painfully clear, even back then.

However, seemingly against all odds, FMV gaming has undergone something of a resurgence of late thanks to titles such as Her Story and Telling Lies, as well as the continued efforts of Wales Interactive, which has produced the likes of Five Dates, Late Shift and SIMULACRA – all of which have come to Switch.

If you’re a fan of such titles, then you’ll be interested to learn that Jed Shepherd – writer and producer of critically-acclaimed 2020 horror movie Host – has teamed up with Visible Games and Limited Run Games to create Ghosts, a full-motion video game which “aims to truly chill your blood and send full-motion video games screaming into the modern-day”.

Showcasing much of the same talent that worked with Shepard on Host – including Haley Bishop, Radina Drandova, Jemma Moore, Caroline Ward and Emma Louise Webb (all of which starred in that particular movie) – and featuring contributions from writer and illustrator Trevor Henderson (he of Siren Head fame, no less) and the legendary Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, Ghosts places you in the role of a producer on a failing TV show that focuses on hunting spooks – one of which is the sinister Long Lady, an urban legend you’ll encounter during your time with the game.

The premise is pretty interesting. Rather than watching segments of the game unfold bit by bit, Ghosts happens in real-time, just like a live TV show. This looks set to lend the game some tension and urgency, two things that are often missing from FMV titles. Because you’re the producer, you’ll need to keep in mind that your job is to entertain, so you’ll need to spice things up to keep the audience gripped.

Even more interesting is the fact that the “full terrifying real-time version of the game” can only be accessed by playing at 10 pm in your local time zone. Loading the game before this time will give you an old-fashioned TV ‘test card’, which can be ‘cracked’ to unlock the pre-watershed version of the show which allows you to save your progress as you play. Furthermore, leaving the game while it’s running causes the session to end, potentially killing off some of your cast. It’s certainly an interesting setup, and one that should use FMV in new and interesting ways.

If all goes according to plan, Ghosts will arrive on the 22nd February 2022, and has been confirmed for Switch release. We were fortunate enough to speak with Shepherd about the project, which is currently on Kickstarter and has raised more than £63,000 of its £165,000 goal with 22 days left on the clock.

Jed Shepherd, the creative force behind Ghosts
Jed Shepherd, the creative force behind Ghosts (Image: Jed Shepherd)

Nintendo Life: First up, Host was very well received, so why make an FMV video game and not another movie?

Jed Shepherd: The response to Host was incredible and very unexpected. We just made a movie in lockdown with our mates. The way it has been received worldwide has been a real rollercoaster for us all. It provided many new opportunities and I am exploring those in multiple upcoming movies for Blumhouse, Sam Raimi, Studiocanal and more. As a hardcore horror fan myself, I am always looking at new ways to tell stories and most importantly, new ways to scare people. Host was called “The Scariest Movie of the Decade” by Dreadcentral and has already entered Total Film’s “greatest horror movies of all time” list, so I knew my horror sensibilities could translate well to the wider public. I’ve always been a fan of Full-Motion Video Games and I’ve played them all. I’m fascinated by them, but have not yet been truly terrified by one. So I wondered what would happen if I brought my particular horror point of view to FMV games; taking everything I’ve learnt from scaring people on film, and transplanting it into a video game. A truly interactive experience where you are not just a passive watcher; you’re really there. You are inside the game experiencing the horror. What’s more terrifying than that?

How has your experience with Host inspired and influenced your approach on Ghosts?

I learnt that a project is only as good as the people you choose to surround yourself with. On Host, we surrounded ourselves with our friends and made something special. I used the five lead girls in a short called Multiplex just before we made Host and once again their real friendship and kinetic energy together is palpable. If I was going to make a video game for the first time, why not use these amazing actors (Haley Bishop, Radina Drandova, Jemma Moore, Caroline Ward and Emma Webb) again to help me navigate my way through it? In Host, the entire world saw how amazing these ladies are and I want everyone to see a new side to them.

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