Capcom has announced that it plans to release a new survival horror title called Haunting Ground on PlayStation 2 next spring across Europe. Having demonstrated the game in trailer form in Japan (where it's known as Demento) at the Tokyo Game Show last month, the Resident Evil publisher has now released more details and a slew of screenshots.
Capcom USA's Todd Thorson reckons Haunting Ground "is not your typical survival horror game". Whereas Resident Evil traditionally blends violence and lateral thinking, Haunting Ground is more along the lines of the Clock Tower series, featuring a female protagonist who doesn't fight the monsters that pursue her directly.
Her name is Fiona Belli, and she's an 18 year-old girl who recently survived a fatal car crash that killed both her parents. Having woken up locked in a mysterious castle, she winds up making contact with its peculiar inhabitants who inform her that she's the heiress. Not that that helps her especially, particularly when she encounters the deformed and disturbed Debilitas, who pursues her relentlessly.
Fortunately she also encounters a dog called Hewie, who has also been trapped, and by freeing him from his shackles she starts to develop a sort of bond with him - something that plays a key role in the development of the story. As the game wears on and Fiona and Hewie work together, he'll take a keener interest in her instructions - come, go, sit, stay, attack, and more - and make use of his sense of smell to locate items, crawl through to areas Fiona can't reach, and attack or distract enemies so Fiona can escape their clutches.
Fiona will need to take charge of the puzzle solving though, although Hewie may get involved, and on the whole it sounds like an interesting, almost ICO-esque premise - two companions fight their way out of a mysterious gothic prison and establish a friendship along the way. However, unlike ICO, Capocm is emphasising the fear factor more than anything - not only will the controller vibrate whenever an enemy's abroad to symbolise Fiona's pounding heart, but the colour will gradually drain from the screen as she gets more frightened.
Haunting Ground clearly has potential, and Capcom's cutting no corners - even hiring Japanese film director Naoto Takenaka to direct the in-game cut-scenes. Which ought to give it a leg up on some of Resident Evil's cinematic antics.
With the game due out as early as next spring in Europe according to Capcom Eurosoft (Capcom USA is quoting "summer 2005"), we'd expect to hear a lot more about it in due course. In the meantime, here are those screenshots again, and don't forget to admire the trailer on the official Japanese website here.