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PC owners get a seemingly never-ending supply of indie horror games but few of the ones this year have been as terrifying as Infliction. Its deeply emotional story, terrifying environments, and haunting sound design has made it not only one of the best horror games this year, but one of the greatest in recent memory. But the most impressive fact about the game was that it was developed by one man, Clinton McCleary. He’s the sole team member of the Australia-based game studio, Caustic Reality. We recently spoke with Clinton about his game.
GameRevolution: What motivated you to make Infliction?
Clinton McCleary: I was listening to Podcast Beyond [IGN’s PlayStation podcast] in 2013 and playing with the Far Cry 3 map editor. I realized it felt a little pointless because nobody would see my maps except for me. I continued to make them anyway but soon came to realize I need to make something that will mean something more than a map I’ve made just for myself.
I then played Gone Home and thought to myself ‘this is what I want to create.’ So I enrolled in game design college, and the rest is history.
GR: Being a one-man team, what were some of the challenges you faced making this game?
CM: The lack of a team [laughs]. It’s really hard to know if something you’re making will work or even make sense to anyone but you. Lucky for me, I have a couple of great friends that listened to me drone on for hours. Also, making something scary is hard to do on your own. I make a ‘scary’ sequence and all I see is the matrix code running down the screen. The biggest challenge for me personally was [the] work/life balance. Working from home ensures you never stop working, even in your sleep.
GR: Judging from the demo, there are a lot of nods and references to horror and sci-fi culture throughout the game. What were some of your inspirations Infliction?
CM: Mostly movies. Hellraiser and The Ring were huge influences. My antagonist is based off a mix of Japanese folklore à la The Ring and the possession in The Exorcist. Without going into spoilers, Hellraiser plays a huge part in the visual design of late-game environments and characters. Evil Dead also gets a nod, as well as the TV show Lost. There are Easter eggs to many of my inspirations in the game, which I hope players enjoy.
GR: It is very clear there is a strong love for horror and deep storytelling in this game as well as demonic lore, you definitely did your homework. What are some of your favorite horror movies, shows, and books?
CM: I love horror. I’m a sucker for a good B-grade 80’s horror flick as well as recent stuff, and everything between. The Evil Dead series, Hellraiser 1 and 2, The Exorcist (1973 movie and recent TV show), The Ring, Event Horizon, Alien and Aliens, Drag Me to Hell. I could go on for pages with this question, but I think you get the idea.
GR: Many are calling this a spiritual successor to the infamously canceled P.T. or Silent Hills. What is your response to that?
CM: P.T. is an inspirational game when it comes to horror and the way it builds tension. Silent Hills will forever be the perfect horror game that never existed for exactly that reason. I didn’t set out to make a spiritual successor to P.T., but to be mentioned in the same sentence as Kojima and Del Toro is a huge honor. So I guess if some people want to call it that, I’m honored and I hope they think it lives up to that legacy.
GR: Infliction’s story is terrifying but also emotional. Without giving away any spoilers, what can you tell us about the foundation of the narrative? Where did it come from?
CR: My wife gave birth to our first child soon after development began on Infliction. I wasn’t sure what the story would be back then. I only knew a few beats for the narrative but didn’t have any character stuff written yet. When you become a father, everything changes. I didn’t have much to be afraid of before fatherhood but all of a sudden, I had a slew of all-new fears and it changed me. I even sold my motorbike! These new fears drove the character development and story of Infliction.
GR: How do you plan to support the game for the long run or listen and react to feedback from the community?
CM: I intend on providing free content updates as well as patches and optimization fixes where needed. I’d also like to accommodate as many of my players’ requests as possible within reason. Many might not know this, but the game changed a fair bit after the demo was released. I was taking player feedback in the form of what elements of the demo they appreciated most and turned the dial up on that stuff in the full game. Obviously, the game isn’t going to be changing in drastic ways now, but I’m always taking feedback in and processing it.
GR: Are there any plans for console release? If so, what consoles can we expect to see Infliction on?
CM: Yes, I want to get Infliction on everything. It largely depends on the success of the PC version but I’d love to release on Xbox One, PS4, Switch, PSVR, etc. The PSVR and Switch versions would likely require a rebuild, so that’s my next couple of years booked in. This, of course, is just what I’d like to do. i can’t promise anything yet, but the intent is there.
GR: In the best case scenario, what do you hope for from the release of Infliction?
CM: I hope people like the game. I also hope to rent a small office and continue to make games while making enough money to support my family and pay the bills. Of course being super successful is a dream we all strive for, but if I just make enough money to continue living the dream and make the next thing, then I’d be pretty happy with that.
GR: If there was one thing you could tell players before they begin playing the game, what would it be?
CM: ‘Thank you so much for checking out the game.’ Then I’d say ‘When you play Infliction, turn the lights off, the sound up, take your time, take it all in and enjoy it.’