Yesss, more horror fishing: Drowned Lake is a survival horror adventure in which you might catch an ‘abomination’

A game can’t so much as include a puddle without being pelted with demands for a fishing minigame these days. The people insist on fish, which is great for the protagonists of cozy life sims, who get to spend relaxing days hooking crappies at the pond. I’d be less pleased if I were the guy meeting giant tentacles in Lovecraftian fishing game Dredge, or one of the protagonists of upcoming survival horror game Drowned Lake, who can expect to reel in “abominations” alongside fish, equipment, and lost items.

Well, I suppose it’s got to be partially their fault: You don’t go to a place called “Drowned Lake” for sport fishing. The game will include three playable characters, two of which are “a reporter who knows that the lake hides something” and “an old fisherman who, after years, returns to the lake to confront its submerged secrets,” the developer tells me. They’re just asking to find some abominations with backstories like that.

Drowned Lake comes from Brazilian game development collective Monumental Collab, which showed off a shorter version of the trailer above at the PC Gaming Show: Most Wanted today. The video is a collage of different perspectives—FMV, top-down boating, and first-person “investigation,” with fishing minigames and inventory management—and although we don’t see any obvious mortal danger, this lake is as unsafe as it looks.

“At the core of the game, players must investigate, manage their resources, and survive the dangers of the lake,” Monumental Collab says. “If defeated, they can retrace their steps with a new character, but this doesn’t guarantee encountering the same resources and challenges as before.”

Drowned Lake is preceded by a couple of related games. One is a game jam prototype, Our Lady of the Drowned Lake, Zero Reporter, about a night fisherman named Bento who disappears in the lake. The new Drowned Lake will expand on that story, “providing a new perspective on Bento’s disappearance and allowing the player to discover what really happened.” 

The other related game is Teleforum, a free, brief visual novel (a visual novella?) which the developer released in October. Drowned Lake takes place in the same universe, which Monumental Collab describes as a Brazil of the ’90s that they’re “not certain ever existed.”

Teleforum demonstrates well how little is needed to build a place, story, and sense of dread: A pair of reporters enter an elevator, knock on a widow’s apartment door, and ask her a few questions about her deceased husband, their former colleague. It all comes back to a mysterious VHS tape, and you yourself are viewing the world through a camcorder, which creates opportunities for ambiguity: Are you recording the tape or watching it? Things get weird, of course.

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Drowned Lake similarly relies on analog media to deliver “a disturbing yet ambiguous aesthetic, almost as if the game were speaking directly to the player,” says the developer.

“Although we aim to avoid the most commonly used tropes, our main inspiration comes from found footage horror, in the sense that we want to evoke the feeling of not only watching but also interacting with something forbidden and even cursed,” writes Monumental Collab.

The Brazilian developers say they also take inspiration from folk horror and want to “explore a unique cultural background that games don’t see as much (as compared to, say, games set in Japan or North America) and imbue humanity into the cursed setting of the game.”

Drowned Lake doesn’t have a release date yet, but it has a Steam page, and the developers tell me they’re aiming for the second half of 2024. You can also find Teleforum on Steam, where it’s free. 

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