[PAX SOUTH] SCP: Blackout Is A Labor Of Love That Embodies The SCP Spirit

I fall down the SPC rabbit hole at least once a month. If you aren’t familiar, it’s an online repository of short stories and scientific “logs.” Set in a fictional version of our universe, an organization known as the SCP Foundation does everything in its power to keep the world of the supernatural away from the masses. Their goal isn’t the eradication of these creatures/objects/places/concepts, but rather to Secure, Contain, and Protect. Most of the submissions detail various entities dubbed SCPs, their effects, and the ongoing protocols for their containment. The juxtaposition between the cold clinical scientific logs and the horrific entities they detail create a world that feels real. This is a place where ordinary men and women wake up, go to work, and hold back the tide of reality destroying horrors. There are thousands of stories on the site, and it can take well over a week just to get through the top posts. But it never ends there. Each post leads to a multitude of stories, related SCPs, site histories, and even other organizations. And don’t forget to check the page’s code. It’s something you can truly spend a lifetime getting lost in and never find the end.

Much of SCP’s draw (and why it’s so easy to get lost in it all) comes from the variety of authors that contribute to it. It’s not the vision of just one person. Anyone can submit to SCP. The community will then either approve the submission to prominence or disapprove until it falls into the trough of “lowest rated.” It’s collaborative, but also competitive. This has driven authors to create some truly fascinating works of fiction to rise through the chaff. Just check out this log about an SCP that cannot be described. Have fun falling down the rabbit hole, I’ll see you when you get back.

The SCP site has a pretty large following, but so far no real representation in the mainstream. It’s odd in an age of Slenderman that an entire encyclopedia of spooky content hasn’t been picked up by any major film/game studio. Regardless, the amount of zero-budget fan games based on the SCP archives is a testament to its popularity. Just go on Steam or itch.io (more itch.io) and type in SCP and prepare to find a whole world of amateur horror projects. Unfortunately, most of these aren’t great. Like the stories of the site, many are the product of one person with more dreams than technical acumen. The last game that really made a splash was SCP – Containment Breach in 2012. With SCP: Blackout, I may have to change that statement.

Originally launching into Early Access back in August, SCP: Blackout is a new VR game that is taking a crack at realizing the SCP world. It takes place in Site-50, a transport hub for SCP’s headed to either testing sites or more permanent containment. You play as a D-Class (disposable personal) who finds himself stuck in the middle of the titular blackout. No power means a containment breach. A containment breach usually means everyone dies. Even if the monsters don’t get you, the on-site nuclear warhead will. Your goal is to collect items, avoid SCPs, and escape. Maybe try to stop the monsters along the way.

There’s currently only one mode in SCP: Blackout, but it’s got plenty to experience. As the facility has only recently undergone the breach, systems will continue to shut down as the game goes on. The facility gets darker, and the SCPs continue to spread. While the facility is always the same, the monsters you encounter are semi-randomized. If your survival wasn’t enough to keep you invested, fans will be pleased to know there are plenty of collectibles to find along the way. Uncover the secret of the SCPs, the motivation of the site directors, and the actions of the doctors that all led up to this point. The game features eight different endings, which gives it plenty of replayability beyond the basic 4-hour initial runtime.

The final version of SCP: Blackout will extend upon this core concept quite a bit. The plan is for the final version to include a story mode that pits the player in the middle of two scientists with competing interests. It’s up to you to decide who to side with, or if you decide to just say fuck it to both of them. In the world of SCP, the obvious answer usually isn’t the correct one. That is, if there even is a correct answer. Sometimes, you just gotta crush a dude’s leg to keep the monster fed for another day. Sadly, the final product is still a ways off. Blackout is being developed by just one guy, so it could be a minute. Honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

As a fan of SCP, what really excites me is the story behind SCP: Blackout. Diehard fans may have already noticed that Site-50 isn’t an existing location in the SCP canon. That’s because the game’s sole developer Kyle Frost invented it for the game. Not only that, but he created all of the SCPs currently in the game. When I asked him at PAX South why he went with all new stuff for Blackout, he told me he wanted to make sure that the game felt fresh and that it wasn’t just another retelling of someone else’s story. He also didn’t want to rely on the big names like the giant lizard or 173. As part of his commitment to getting the story right, Kyle has worked with several prominent members of the SCP community to make sure his creations feel at home in the SCP mythos. He’s open to the idea of including some existing names in the final game, but wants to be sure he has good explanations as to why they would be at Site-50.

This is the core of what SCP is all about. It’s about one fan creating their own little niche in this larger world. No one person sculpted the landscape of the Foundation. No individual decided that this is what an SCP can or cannot be. The community did. Story by story, piece by piece, all of the fans built this grand cathedral to otherworldly horror. Some of us just eagerly absorb and click the plus or minus button on new posts. Others lay their creations out for our dissection. Regardless of what part you play, we all contribute. With SCP: Blackout, Kyle is contributing to this long and wonderful tradition. You might scoff and say, “it’s not an SCP game without the bloody statue baby,” but that’s missing the point. SCP isn’t a copypasta. It isn’t about retelling the same story. SCP is all about creating your own piece of this world, and letting your fellow connoisseurs of contentment judge your works. That’s why I feel that Blackout rises above all the other games that just try to digitize the stories that already got their thousands of upvotes.

If you want to check out SCP: Blackout, it’s out now on Steam Early Access for $19.99. It’s playable on the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. If you don’t have a VR rig, worry not. The game is also completely playable as a standard PC game. No word yet on a console port, but Kyle hopes to once the game is in full release. On a more personal note, if you have the money, give this one a shot. It’s remarkably fun and scary for a game made by a single guy. SCP fans will definitely want to check this one out. If you’re not… then why aren’t you? Go get lost in it, it’s worth the sleepless nights.

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