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Unique HL2 horror mod, Korsakovia
September 25, 2009 4:18 PM   Subscribe

Korsakovia is a Half Life 2 mod from research driven developer The Chinese Room. It melds the abstract driven story of their previous mod, Dear Esther (previously), with more traditional gameplay. The end result is an equally distinctive horror FPS with minimal narrative cues.

Rock, Paper, Shotgun had a nice write up about it.

The mod's ModDB page includes a comments section that is a mix of loving adoration and extreme frustration. Korsakovia lack of narrative clues means it's never clear that you are going the right way, and the game has a few bugs. I personally wasn't able to get through without cheating (remember, you have to type "sv_cheats 1" before any of these will work). Consider yourself warned.
posted by The Devil Tesla (16 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
The download page for it is here.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 4:31 PM on September 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


This sounds fascinating.
posted by brundlefly at 4:57 PM on September 25, 2009


Downloading.
posted by Liver at 5:28 PM on September 25, 2009


Oh, and I forgot to mention, you have to have Half Life 2: Episode 2 installed, not just Half Life 2.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 5:35 PM on September 25, 2009


can'ttheyjustreleasegoddamnahalflifeepisode3already

ohsweetjesuswhy?

whiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine.....

*sedation*
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 8:33 PM on September 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Don't feel bad, I couldn't finish it without cheating either. I spawned without the crowbar a few times, so I ended up doing the Impulse 101 cheat and was killing smoke monsters with the revolver. Since, technically, all this is happening within the main character's mind, I think I'm allowed to pack some heat.

The level design is part brilliant and part maddening. It's great in that it repeats rooms and hallways used before, but changes them slightly, re-ordering what's seen by the player. I assume this is done to represent the mental disorder that afflicts the main character. By the game's end things get very interesting.

Overall, I think I liked Dear Esther more, simply because it's levels had more atmosphere to them. The beginning of Korsakovia had some of this, but the rest felt kind of bland, and could have used another pass, art wise.

The audio, on the other hand, is very very good. Along with the writing. Really ambitious. Considering the devs got 10 grand to put this together means that we'll see more of this in the future, which I look forward to.
posted by hellojed at 11:03 PM on September 25, 2009


They're remaking Dear Esther, also.
posted by empath at 12:18 AM on September 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I spawned without the crowbar a few times

That is definitely by design, you have to find them in the levels. I wouldn't recommend other people playing through this doing the same since it kind of messes up the pacing (you know, when you have to run away from the mists and when you can fight them). I can see how you would think that was the only way through, when the game takes that away from you it doesn't tell you that it's doing that.

Overall, I think I liked Dear Esther more, simply because it's levels had more atmosphere to them.

I don't think that Korsakovia really had any less, especially when the way the gameplay ebbs and flows is taken into account. Dear Esther's world was totally flat, you didn't interact with it at all, and because of this it didn't immerse me fully as Korsakovia did. What really set Dear Esther apart was the uniqueness of tone.

I don't deny that Dear Esther is the greater achievement, but it was more something to be remembered then experienced. I tried playing through again and I didn't enjoy it as much, unfortunately.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 1:26 AM on September 26, 2009


The audio and sound design are by Jessica Curry, who also produced the soundtrack for Dear Esther. I played an earlier version of Korsakovia and, although a lot of it was not in place, the sound design was already pretty bowel-liquefying. The noise the fog makes - the messed-up mechanical whalesong - is definitely a stayer. I think Curry's a hugely talented producer of game audio; the Dear Esther soundtrack has been on my iPod for a while.
posted by DNye at 4:51 AM on September 26, 2009


I got good and loaded last night and tried this out and well, honestly, it didn't hold my attention for very long once the "monsters" showed up. Maybe I'll try it again when the mood is right. Thanks for posting, Tesla.
posted by Liver at 5:15 AM on September 26, 2009


Dear Esther was absolutely stunning.

After frantically circumnavigating a warehouse for fifteen minutes looking (presumably) for a crowbar while dodging the smoke monster from Lost, I decided this was... something other than stunning.

If you're aiming for compelling interactive fiction rather than a video game, don't make me poke through shipping containers for the fucking blue key.
posted by regicide is good for you at 2:13 PM on September 26, 2009


If you're aiming for compelling interactive fiction rather than a video game, don't make me poke through shipping containers for the fucking blue key.

First off, it is a videogame.

Second of all, I think I know where you are and what you have to do. The following is spoilers but worth reading, this puzzle is a really bad one. Look for a ladder on one of the supports for the catwalks above the warehouse that you haven't been to yet. You won't be able to reach it. You need to stack a box to get to it. Yep, that's really lame, but the next part is one of the best so I recommend that you keep going. I get why you don't think Korsakovia was stunning yet, but I think this will change your mind.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 5:47 PM on September 26, 2009


I downloaded this and Dear Esther last night. My son played them (I'm not sure if he finished) and was very impressed. Thanks.
posted by gamera at 6:19 PM on September 26, 2009


Good game, I liked it a lot. Thanks for posting it!
posted by flatluigi at 3:07 PM on September 27, 2009


Semi-related question: I have the Orange Box on Xbox 360. Is there anyway to play these mods (or and other hl2 mods) on it?
posted by lenny70 at 7:09 PM on September 27, 2009


I have the Orange Box on Xbox 360. Is there anyway to play these mods (or and other hl2 mods) on it?

Nope. In general mods don't work on consoles, the exception being Unreal Tournament 3 for the PS3.

All you need to play it is Half Life 2: Episode 2, and it's available on Steam if you're interested.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 10:32 PM on September 27, 2009


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