The Void Bringer

Okay, so. The Backrooms is an internet-age urban legend, best implemented by Kane Parsons' video series on Youtube which mixes long passages of eerie dread with effective jumpscares. The short videos tell the tales of an unlucky few camcorder-owners who find themselves inexplicably transported to a vast series of bare corridors, where they are hunted by weird-ass bio-mechanical constructs. The videos are set in modern constructed buildings that don't make any sense, where retracing your steps won't necessarily take you back where you belong. Like Brian Bloodaxe, or a maze in a text adventure. It's this sense of unnatural spaces that gives the series it's unique terror, and they're well worth a look.

Shout-out to the lovely box art

The Void Bringer (The Backrooms: Level 711) is a New Year's Day release from Furillo, who previously gave us Deva. It's inspired by the Backrooms, setting you up as one of five luckless individuals dragged into a strange dimension where you must battle the other four in a series of contests to win your freedom. Fail and you'll find yourself dissected for research purposes by your extradimensional host. No pressure.

Kidnapped by an Alice Cooper/tubeworm hybrid. The ignomy.

The contests, then, are a series of minigames. There are 5, and you'll go head to head in each against one opponent at a time. Beat them, and you'll move on to the next match where you'll repeat the 5 against another, tougher opponent. In one, The Labyrinth,  you and your opponent start at opposite ends of a 2-d maze, and race to collect dots. The Sun Eater is a kind of shooting gallery game, where you have to react quickly to, um, eat suns. The Duel puts you in facing buggies, shooting at your opponent while avoiding their shots, and Energy Up looks like Deva, but has you racing upwards through gaps in approaching laser walls. Finally, Doppelgangers is a card matching game, where you upturn cards to match pairs.

Yes, it's a card-matching game. Spooky? No, but looks good none-the-less.

From an atmosphere point of view then, none of the duels feel anything like the Backrooms. Presentation is very good, but if you're familiar with the inspiration at all, the colourful sci-fi settings might not be what you're expecting. The mood gap between fleeing inexplicable monstrosities and playing a child's memory game is a large one.

In the end or course, what matters is how it plays. Sadly, this let me down a little as well. Controls on the Laser-Wall game are unresponsive and slow, leading to no little frustration. The Sun-Eating game has trap tiles that freeze the closest player - sometimes they spawn almost on top of you, and are unavoidable. More frustration. The pair-matching is largely luck and very simple, with just 8 cards and 3 pairs to play for. The maze game is simple fun, but performance is a struggle - even the music slows down noticeably, and turning corners is not as slick as it might be. The last buggy duel game is smooth, but the behaviour of the CPU player's fire differs from the human player's, which is a little off-putting.

2 buggy-things enter, one buggy-thing leaves. This is the best of the mini-games.

Overall : a mixed bag. Graphically it's very nice, and the music is appropriately dramatic, but the mini games are let down by some performance and design issues that in the end make the whole thing somewhat unsatisfying. If you're looking for Backrooms-style horror, you might find the Hellraiser-esque mazes of Donum fits the bill instead.

You can of course decide for yourself and download it here

And you can watch those Backrooms videos starting here

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