The Flock: Gamescom 2013's Spooky Surprise Hit

Don't look away.

You know that feeling you get when you’re being watched, and you can feel the person’s eyes pressing on the back of your head? That sense will serve you well in The Flock, an asymmetrical, survival-terror multiplayer game from independent developer Vogelsap.

In the grim darkness of the year 3000, Earth is shrouded by eternal night and humanity has vanished. Earth’s final inhabitants are the Flock, wretched creatures endlessly fighting over the last few Light Artifacts. After playing a few rounds at this year’s Gamescom, I was struck by just how unsettling these multiplayer matches could feel.

Catching another player in my light, and seeing them staring back at me only a few feet away, motionless, and knowing they would try and kill me if I looked away was very unnerving.

The goal in each round of The Flock is to capture and hold the Light Artifact--essentially a high-powered lantern--for a set amount of time. Hold onto it long enough and you win the match. The player holding the Light Artifact, called the Carrier, is slower than the rest, but can destroy his enemies in radiant fire by illuminating them at close range. As one of the Flock, the only defense against this is to stand perfectly, absolutely still.

We’re talking zero movement: no walking, no jumping, and no using the mouse to look around. As the Flock, I found this difficult at times because I was otherwise very fast, with the ability to sprint, attack, and leap high into the air. I quickly realized the best way to take down the Carrier was to exploit my other teammates. By letting one draw the Carrier’s attention, I could strike from behind while the light was pointed away. Because--when it’s all said and done--only one player can be crowned the winner.

Playing as the Carrier was a very different experience. This is where the terror and suspense really took hold. Inevitably I found myself at the very bottom of the cave, tip-toeing through its claustrophobic passageways. Above me I could hear the clatter of claws on stone as the other players slithered through the darkness, encircling me.

When the game was at its best, I felt as if the world was closing in around me. I'd catch glimpses of the Flock getting closer--statues staring back at me--until I was struck from behind and caught in an explosion of light. This signaled my defeat, and the Light Artifact's passing to another player.

Catching another player in my light, and seeing them staring back at me only a few feet away, motionless, and knowing they would try and kill me if I looked away was very unnerving. I’m very excited to see where Vogelsap takes this game, as it is still very early in development. As a result, a release date has not been set, yet, but you can check out more information on the game on the game's official website.

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