After the Half-Life: Alyx – Return to Rapture mods, Patient 8 Games now introduces Memoreum. Starting out as a Dead Space-themed mod before a change in direction, it’s coming to Quest and SteamVR next year. Read on for our full interview.
One year after the conclusion of the second chapter of Return to Rapture, Patient 8 is keeping busy. Moving away from modding to create something new, Memoreum sees humanity looking up to the stars as the Earth slowly dies. Aboard a Colonial spaceship, you wake up to find that something has gone horribly wrong, and you are tasked with finding out what happened.
It’s a classic horror premise, and at Gamescom 2023, Patient 8 Games explained that the game originally started out as a Dead Space mod for Half-Life Alyx. As someone who has never handled VR horror well (once was enough) I didn’t get far with the Quest demo, but was interested in learning more. Speaking with Creative Director Seamus Bryner and Project Director Wim Buytaert, we discussed Memoreum during a Q&A session.
Henry Stockdale, UploadVR: Could you start by telling me about game development?
Seamus Bryner: As a studio, we started with a Half-Life: Alyx mod called Return to Rapture, the one from BioShock. The next step was Wim talking to all the team members and saying to everyone: we’re going to make a version of this for Dead Space. We started working on it but kept adding things and soon it became a project of its own.
From there, we’ve been developing the game for over a year and a half, non-stop. We too are an international team, therefore [Gamescom] it’s the first time we’ve all met face to face. We have five people in America, people in Belgium, Switzerland, Russia, Switzerland, Canary Islands, we are everywhere.
UploadVR: Why did you specifically want to do horror?
bryner: The reason we approached it early on is that with VR games we didn’t see a lot of things that felt like full-fledged or full-fledged experiences like Half-Life: Alyx. And we’re all huge horror fans, so it was about contributing and making a whole single player campaign. We are so passionate about the genre.
UploadVR: What is the premise of the game?
bryner: You play as a famous scientist, Dr. Otto Hudson. He wakes up and is pulled out of his stasis pod on the Century Dawn, a ship that is humanity’s last hope after several apocalyptic events on Earth such as weather changes. It is almost uninhabitable. They then depart on a colonizer spaceship where most of the people are in stasis.
They wake up every now and then, and when Hudson wakes up, something is wrong. If you’ve seen the trailer, you’ll get a feel for it with a guy on the radio called James Parker. He’s a scientist who walks you through the whole thing. Guys, try to figure out what’s going on, how to fix it and where to go. Essentially, it’s about how to save humanity because we really wanted to up the ante.
UploadVR: Can you walk me through the gameplay, what are you doing along the way?
bryner: It is a survival horror strongly oriented to action horror. We’re trying to strike a delicate balance, while adding an appropriate amount of puzzles and engaging things for players to do. We never intended to be a shooting range outright. It’s about exploring and finding things in the world that you want to immerse yourself in, like the ship, the characters, and discovering the secrets.
Wim Buytaert: Every small room will have details that seem alive. Everything has a little story to tell. We went big with environmental storytelling.
UploadVR: More or less, how long would you say the adventure will last?
bryner: We assume that there are a wide variety of VR players. There are people who like to run and there are people who take their time and play games, just like regular video games. What we aim for is 10-15 hours for the single player campaign. It’s a complete experience and we’re trying to do things with New Game Plus and replayability, like secret weapons.
Purchased: There is a lot of crafting work in the game with weapons.
bryner: Yes, weapons are also upgradeable.
UploadVR: Is there a weapon skill tree?
bryner: We haven’t really discussed anything about the skill tree. Much of the matter was solely about the weapons you get and then upgrading how they work.
Purchase rate: You start out with a small shotgun it gets bigger, meatier, you get more interesting stuff to add.
bryner: The weapon system was designed by our lead developer. It’s an all-in-one weapon that can transform into anything you want, but it’s still a weapon.
Purchase rate: If in a particular level you decide to use a shotgun, you can go to a crafting machine, disassemble the machine gun and make a shotgun out of it.
bryner: You also have exotic weapons. These are weapons you find like a cowboy magnum, sawed-off shotgun, stuff like that.
UploadVR: Is Memoreum only on Quest at the moment?
bryner: No. We are aiming for Quest for initial release, that is our priority, but we are hoping for a simultaneous launch with SteamVR as well.
Purchase rate: We intend to tackle PlayStation VR2 as well. If we have the opportunity, we will seize it. This also applies to Pico.
UploadVR: Is it fair to say that you want to bring them to more platforms but aren’t currently committed to it?
bryner: We haven’t had much contact with Sony about it, so for now only Quest and Steam.
UploadVR: Is there a release window at the moment?
bryner: 2024 is what we are aiming for. We’re trying to keep it general because we’re a small independent team, so you never know what’s going to happen.
UploadVR: Will there be improvements in Quest 3?
bryner: We’re trying to reach out to more people in Meta to get a dev kit to plan for this, but that’s the plan.
Purchased: It will be easy enough to do. We made it work really well on Quest 2, so improving for Quest 3 will be fun.
UploadVR: Before I finish, is there anything you think I should know?
bryner: We just really hope people get excited about it. We’re trying to bridge the gap between what makes a survival horror game like Resident Evil, Dead Space or Silent Hill traditional, and bring it to VR in a way we’ve never seen before. It has always been a huge goal, our main goal is to scare the shit out of you and keep you entertained.
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