Imaginative Spooks: DXC2: Squirrel Stapler
This October, I will be looking at all things spooky and kooky. Starting with the Dread X Collection 2 (or DXC2 from now on), I will be looking at each of the twelve short games included in this collection. The first of all will be the surprisingly intense Stealth Shooter: Squirrel Stapler.
All this and stapling squirrels:
The premise is quite simple. You are a mad man in the woods; you have the rotting corpse of your wife strung up next to the bed. All that is left is to repair your wife by stapling squirrels' bodies to the cadaver. At the end of five days, you meet god. There is not much too really be gained from a thematic perspective and it doesn't need one. You are just a crazy person hunting squirrels. What makes Squirrel Stapler tick is rather basic: escalation, and sound design. Your hunting rifle is no good against the squirrel bears, shooting attract attention from said bears and vengeful squirrel ghosts. You have to sneak up on your prey (squirrels) while avoiding the attention of your foes.
The map is massive with ammo and health pickups in certain places but always scarce. You have to know the map and your surroundings. As there is no music, the sound design is key to your survival and progress. You have to stealth around the map to avoid making noise, because you will scare away your prey. But you also have to be aware of the noise, the bears growl and crushing leaves as they move. If you do not pay attention and do not hide, you will fail. That threat of failure and vulnerability is palpable in Squirrel Stapler. Which contributes to the overall sense of surreal horror, as the world becomes progressively more hostile.
I didn’t expect Squirrel Stapler to be effectively scary. Maybe it was because of the silly name and stock squirrel pictures. It might also have been the early 3d pixelated art style. But through a mixture of sound design, a ramping difficulty curve, and stealth focus gameplay. Squirrel Stapler is pretty solid; I will lookout for more of David Szymanski's work.
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