I think we’re well into “milking the gimmick” territory for bodycam horror games now – last week’s Digested was one giant snake too many, perhaps – but Zoochosis does have the additional virtue of being heavily inspired by the cute doggy scene from The Thing. And also, perhaps, Five Nights At Freddy’s.
In this latest, gruesome escapade from Sparky Marky developers Clapperheads, you are a zookeeper working the night shift. Your job, initially, is to feed the incarcerated animals and clean up after them while giving them an occasional pat on the nose. But Something Is Wrong. Giraffes aren’t supposed to have that many legs, or mandibles. Kangaroos aren’t supposed to stick to the ceiling, or have several sets of teeth.
The zoo is the site of a nasty mutagenic infection, its presence given away by a handheld scanner which I’m assuming you’ll need to assemble yourself. It’s your job to discover the cause of the malady, work on a cure, and save the zoo animals before they turn your innards outwards. There are several possible endings, depending on which critters you rescue and which you only manage to avoid.
“We have handpicked a theme that we feel is a real crowd-pleaser, not just for our team but for many more people – animals,” said Clapperheads CEO and co-founder Oleg Gaze in a press release. “Not just animals, but the big focus on saving them, stopping them from vanishing off the face of the earth. Then bam! You’re thrown into this crazy scenario where as a night zookeeper, a parasite infects your animal friends, and it’s a matter of survival for you and the animals in your care.”
Sparky Marky is one of the better horror series featuring creepy childrens’ toys, and I’m enjoying the grotesqueness of the mutations in the Zoochosis trailer. Gaze’s emphasis on the CRAZINESS of it all suggests otherwise, but I’m interested to know if there’s any commentary here on actual zoochosis, which describes the psychological trauma and resultant “unnatural” behaviour of non-human animals held in captivity, such as agitated rocking or swaying, excessive pacing, random biting and twisting of the neck and head. Notwithstanding the kindness and conservationist thinking of many zookeepers, I think that any artwork about the horrors of zoo animals can only really be an inverted portrayal of the horrors we inflict on them.
Zoochosis is out this year, and you can find it on Steam. Not seen The Thing? Here’s an abbreviated version in the language of Pingu.