In modern gaming death tends to be little more than a default failure state that sets you back five minutes to the last checkpoint you reached. Years ago it meant a lot more. Run out of lives on the last level in Super Mario Bros… tough luck you’re back at the start of the game. When The Flock launches later this year it will give death a new meaning and it will be even more punishing then the old days. In the Flock your deaths will eventually cause the death of the game itself.
The Flock is an asymmetrical multiplayer horror game where the player controls a monster. These monsters populate “the Flock” but they are limited in number. Each death represents the permanent death of one unit and when all the units are dead so to is the game. The game will go offline permanently and will no longer be playable. “This game has been designed with a goal to make an immersive, tense/scary and unconventional experience. These things don’t last unfortunately. So from all perspectives there’s a big theme to it, as the Flock are a tragic race that’s doomed to extinction,” explained creative director Jeroen van Hasselt. “Secondly, we want to tackle a problem with the anticlimactic ending of a multiplayer experience. We want the game to have a climactic finale after which people will fondly remember the game, instead of it to slowly wither away. A restart for a new season will only undermine that. We aspire to write history. Players can be a part of that.”
In the game players control nimble monsters who are searching for the ‘Light Artifact’ which transforms them into the humanoid ‘Carrier’. The Carrier has a light beam that can kill any Flock it shines upon but if a Flock successfully catches the Carrier the original will die and the Flock will take their place.
Naturally there are a number of concerns surrounding this game model primarily the concern about buying it when all lives are nearly gone or having players deliberately die in order to troll the community. The developers, Vogelsap, have promised that the number of remaining lives will always be viewable in the game menu, on the Steam page, on the official website and on the official subreddit so hopefully nobody will have the unfortunate luck of picking it up when 5 lives remain. While the number of lives the game will start out with hasn’t been specified yet, the developers are currently trying to calculate a suitable number based on the data they are receiving from the closed beta and the final number will be “substantial”. As for the second problem, well that one will be a little tougher to sort out but they’re working on it and will announce their solution in the future.
It’s certainly an interesting concept and it will be fascinating to see how smoothly it runs and whether or not people are willing to buy into a game that not only acknowledges the fact that it will have to go offline someday but openly embraces it.