Indie Dev Spotlight: Lone Axe Games and their latest game "Stalked"!
Actual warning in the game's loading screen: Stalked is inspired by real life tragedies and infamous serial killers. By taking part in this game, you accept to be "Stalked". Some scenes and references might be disturbing to you. If you start to feel uncomfortable in any way, please take a break.
There will be a warning in red with dotted lines about gameplay and spoilers, if you want to keep gameplay fully surprise and the way it handles, skip the dotted part when you get to it. Thanks for reading!
It's finally time to go home after a long day from working as a investigative journalist. You decide to park your car as usual, then you notice some things are a little different today. Where is the parking lot attendant? They never miss a day. But you disregard that and you keep walking home. It's dark and all you have is a flashlight that even if functional, it's only lighting up so much ahead of you. Then... you see it in the distance. Is that... a person? Or am I just seeing made up things in the dark? I need to rush home now, I feel like I am definitely being watched by something or someone.
"Stalked is a short first person psychological Horror game, where you
play as Sarah Garrett, an investigative journalist being stalked in the middle of the night. She will face her worst nightmares while strange things start happening to her. Will she escape alive or be declared dead?"
Stalked released on Steam on September 22nd 2022 and it is the first commercial project developed and published by Lone Axe Games. Lone Axe has developed and published other short games previously on their Itch.io page but with "Stalked" taking over a year to create, this has been the most challenging project yet to come across this developer's desk. The game is about an hour long (depends on your pace) and has a total of 7 endings, bringing you back to replay the scenarios over and over again until you figure out what step you can do different to avoid repeating your previous ending. It personally took me a bit over an hour because I explored a lot in the map as it seemed there was a few little secrets hidden around (I found a small kitten!). But the thing that was so simple yet so effective in scaring me each time they appeared... the damned cardboard cutouts. I was already on edge but those things would get me each time.
"I've made small (not that good) short games to try things but this is my first indie commercial game on Steam. I had this idea from years ago but I didn't have a laptop or a desktop, it was a simple generic game in mind but it evolved into something bigger with a story to interpret and some secrets/easter eggs to find and with multiple endings." - Lone Axe Games
As mentioned in the game description, you play as Sarah Garrett, an investigative journalist who is coming home from work late at night and is being stalked. When you get home, you notice that your hallway light is flickering yet again (doesn't seem like a new issue) and an unwanted shadow figure is waiting for you. Now I'm unsure if Sarah is just unbothered at this point but the amount of things she misses happening around her and she just keeps going on about her night...stresses me out. But anyways, Sarah is given the option to go check her power supply to make sure nothing is severely broken. By checking the power supply, this is how you kickstart the game to see what ending you'll get or how far you can get with the choices you make. Keep in mind, you have 7 endings and you do get to play as more characters than just Sarah depending on the ending you are following through.
This section gets a bit into the gameplay, how the game handles and some tips I found useful for my own gameplay so spoilers ahead.
Gameplay and Visuals: As I was playing this game after their launch patch (if you had issues with the game previously, it now launches on Windows 10/11 with no crash) I did notice how dark the game was. Besides the topic itself (I mean, the name and warning in the loading screen says enough) the game overall is quite dark even when using your flashlight and adjusting your monitor settings. When you did have your flashlight on, sometimes the action key (E) was hard to see in some places. Sometimes the action key would light up red, but sometimes it was white so with the flashlight on, it was easy to miss some actions through the game. The game has some minimal puzzles which aren't bad to figure out, but one thing I knew is how pushing furniture in the game was a thing you could do. So keep that in mind when playing, you can move some things to see other things which by the way.
The story of the game is straight to the point, you are being stalked. But some things are a little confusing like, the birthday card for example that was from her parents saying she's lucky to be alive and that they're proud of her. A little suspicious wording to hear from parents I feel or maybe it wasn't from her parents after all. Also there is more than 1 stalker from what we find out. You get to see evidence that they stalked other women, crime scenes were messy and sometimes body parts were missing. The game even acknowledges that we don't know if it's cannibals or just random people doing evil things.
Also...the ENDING? WHY DID THAT HAPPEN??? I won't say what happens. But again, short game, short story, maybe eventually we can hear more or see more on this. I did enjoy that out of those 7 endings, there were some you straight up didn't see coming so the surprise of how they came to be or happened was really cool to see! And the environment of the game, I think this is one of the biggest indoor/outdoor maps I have seen in a short indie game so well done on this and making the stalker character so scary looking.
Audio: It was a bit hard to hear the voices of the characters when they spoke so I highly recommend reading the subtitles if you're able to due to the environmental sounds being much louder than the voice overs.
This is usually the part where I would rate the game. Being this developer's first project to go on Steam, I will not be rating this game in this blog. As a game developer, I recognize it's not easy and when you're putting your first project out into the public it's a huge deal! Nerves can be all over the place and on top of it all, being a solo dev, this is a huge accomplishment and I rather celebrate and showcase the artist and their art. So keep reading so you get to know a bit about Lone Axe Games!
About the developer
Alan Trabelsi (Lone Axe Games) is a 27 year old up-and-coming game developer from Tunisia, North Africa. Besides being a game developer, Alan also has a baking license (very cool to see what developers enjoy to do when not working on a project) and can speak multiple languages such as Arabic, English, French, Italian and learning more. Before his latest project, he used to create music for other videogames to share his love for movie soundtracks. When it came to "Stalked", Alan was inspired by some elements of true crime, serial killers and other horror games such as Jordan King's "Bloodwash". Working numerous hours at a time, he kept evolving his initial idea as each week went by for this project. He wanted "Stalked" to rely on true paranoia, a creepy atmosphere and gameplay with little to no jump scares as he mixed in some small Easter eggs. As this was his first game on Steam, some challenges that Alan stumbled upon the publishing of "Stalked" were tech issues with software (this game was done on Unity) and legalities that come with publishing a commercial game. But now with the game successfully published and newly patched, Alan is shifting his focus to his next game which he hopes to be a horror/sim experience.
"At the time I was that close to deleting the project but here we are talking about it. Publishing a game on Steam from my room and making connection with some of the amazing people on Twitter, etc... is something I'm proud of." - Alan (Lone Axe Games)
See the trailer below!
Thank you all for taking your time in reading this review/blog and always, support indie horror ♥ Leave a "heart" in this post if you are planning on playing this game!
Until next time! 🔪