I decided to write the 5 minutes of gameplay in the form of a short story. Simply writing out the key story elements in the game design document is helpful but I feel it often causes the narrative to lose its character and atmosphere. This short story was written in an attempt convey tone and style in which the narrative should be told.
A man lies on the floor, his head facing the sky. Rain pours down on him while rouge waves assault him from afar. As he opens his eyes they are met with a storm of dark clouds and the crashing sound of thunder. Lightning quickly ensues. His eyes follow the streak of light which blasts the lighthouse right next to him. He has no idea where he is or how he got here. Becoming aware of his situation he stands up and looks for cover from the cold rain. He groans with every step, every part of him aches. Looking in every direction he tries to see if there is anything that might help him understand where he is, but he finds nothing. The rain is so heavy he can barely see. He stumbles around the base of the lighthouse trying to figure out the direction to the mainland. Nothing but ocean expands in every direction, no land or boat in sight.
The waves get stronger and panic starts to set in. He stands trying to process what’s happening. His shattered thoughts are interrupted as a wave almost knocks him over the edge, saved only by the rusty railing that borders the concrete base. He eventually realizes there is nowhere to go but inside. A deep sense of fear overwhelms him as he places his hand on the door, but he has no other choice. Shouting for help he opens the door, but the eerie nature of the place makes him question if he even wants a response. His eyes re-adjust from the rain and he sees a light switch next to the door. He presses it tentatively, praying it still works. Sparks of electricity can be heard as the room flickers with light and unveils its hidden horror. Splattered blood and chunks of flesh cover the room with a blood soaked knife lying loosely on the desk. He stands petrified - unable to move. Suddenly the door behind him slams shut and the lights start to flicker! Scampering and laughing can be heard above him as well as a deep rumbling earthquake like roar.
Edging back he attempts to open the door, his wet hands shaking uncontrollably as he tries to wrap them round the handle. It’s locked. Suddenly the rain and freezing wind didn’t seem too bad. He slowly looks up to where the noise has come from, his whole body shaking now. Nothing but an empty spiral staircase. His panicky and shallow breathing echoes up the long empty shaft of the lighthouse dome. Startled by the reverberation of his own voice he tries to control his breathing, but it proves useless. As his eyes continue to scan the room he notices the place is filled with clothes, old cans of food and makeshift mattresses. People live here, or have lived here at some time. He sees a note on the counter with the blood soaked halfway through, but still legible. Inching towards the paper he picks it up and starts to read.
“I just want to leave. Why me? I just wanted to visit home for a few days. They say you’re more likely to be struck by lightning than be in an airplane crash, just my luck eh. For the first time in a while things were good. What I’d do to have them back again… Amanda said the Coastguard will be here in no time. She used to be an engineer or something, and planes are meant to have this tracking device thingy, I don’t know, I couldn’t understand half the words she used. I hope she’s right though, can’t deal with being around these people much longer, I need my own space. It’s only been half a day and I’m at the end of my tether with half of them. Luckily there seems to be enough food for us to last a while. I’m being selfish I know, but I can’t think about others right now, especially those who didn’t survive. I don’t even know why I’m writing this, I guess it’s my weird way of venting. Urgh, everything is just so fucked…”
He set down the note, so many questions rushing through his mind. He again turned his head up to the long spiral staircase. No noise had come from there for quite a while now. He was starting to even question if he ever actually heard anything. Maybe it was just a bird call or something, but what about the locked door? He edged towards the bottom of the staircase, his feet accidently hit a chunk of dead meat and he is once again reminded of the severity of his situation. It had been around 10 minutes since he had woken up outside in the cold rain, and while still terrified about what lies ahead, he could feel his fight or flight reactions kick in and a strong urge to survive. He starts ascending the spiral staircase taking care with every step while constantly scanning the room for threats. After the first few he starts to speed up and even feels a slight sliver of confidence. He is about a quarter of the way up the lighthouse when he hears a loud deafening banging at the bottom door. It catches him off guard and he jumps. He stands motionless trying to listen but the waves and rain muffle out any distinguishable sounds.
Torn between which way is safer, he decides to continue with his current path up the lighthouse stairs. He shudders as he notices the deep nail scratches that cover the banister. The further he goes up, the less light there is. It’s almost pitch black. Taking another step he stumbles over his own feet and smacks his head on the floor. The sound of his fall echoes down the lighthouse void. He jumps up immediately and continues to climb, this time grasping onto the banister. With sheer panic increasing his pace he soon reaches the top. He could feel his heart pounding in his chest. The stairway was horrible, but he at least knew the dangers it contained. What lay behind this door however, was a complete unknown. He took 3 deep breaths and placed his palm on the door handle, his whole body trembling. He opened the door...