Interview: WELCOME TO HANWELL Is Bringing Horror To The Open World

Welcoming players to enter the nightmarish town called Hanwell is developer Nathan Seedhouse! Welcome to Hanwell is an open world horror game that lets you travel through the town and interact with others that live there all-the-while handling various monsters!

Planning to launch October 20th on Steam, with hopes of making its way on to console later, they had launch a new trailer recently which made me want to know more about the game. I got a hold of Seedhouse to ask him a few questions on his nightmare town.

Story

You wake up in a makeshift morgue set up in the abandoned maintenance tunnels beneath Hanwell Power Plant. When the anomalies first emerged, the Hanwell Council of Public Protection (HCPP) was formed to keep residents safe.

Providing equipment and expertise on prevention and preparation. With the help of the HCPP, Hanwell became one of the safest, if most inconvenient places on the planet. But the council has fallen, the memories you have of Hanwell have faded, and failing equipment with lack of warning has become a major issue. In addition to this, you are being stalked by a mysterious individual who seems to be everywhere.

The rest of the world closed the gates and left Hanwell to rot. Thus begins your journey...

Interview with Seedhouse

What kind of gameplay will your game consist of? More defenseless or survival?
"A bit of both. Whenever The Brute is around you're entirely defenseless, there isn't a weapon in the game that would inflict even a scratch, so you'd better just hide, and when you get the chance, run. There are different types of enemies that you can defend yourself against."

How many different weapon options will there be?
"We're aiming for 50 melee weapons, each with stats similar to what you might find in an RPG. Damage, Block Defense, Durability, etc. We also have the code implemented for a pistol, but I’m on the fence as to whether this will be included or not since this might detract from the claustrophobic frantic survival feel of the game."

Where will the majority of the game take place?
"It all takes place in Hanwell, with some excursions to other worldly locations. But the game is almost exclusively set in Hanwell. Within Hanwell are a huge selection of environments to explore. Each as distinct as the last. You’ll find yourself in an old English pub one moment trying to figure out what happened there during the fall, then exploring underground maintenance tunnels the next. You’ll encounter creepy warped beings in the upper floors of the Hospital, or just hop from one normal house to the next, uncovering the remnants of everyday lives in Hanwell. Once in Hanwell, you can do as you please, chase The Doctor and find out why he had you in a makeshift morgue, uncover the secrets of The Council or just take a stroll and look for interesting stuff."

What kind of enemies will players run into?
"There are a few different types of enemies each with their own abilities. The Witch for example can teleport, she might put herself right in your path if you disturb her, or she might disappear before your eyes mid swing if you managed to get in a hit or two. The Burner will just charge you and thrash away until you're down. Encounter a Dark Orb and it'll suck you in leaving you tainted by darkness. This blinds you, so you'll have to rely on you're HCPP radar device to see in short pulses. You'll also encounter giant spiders, crazy humans, ghosts, tainted and battle with your own psyche."

What inspired you to make Welcome to Hanwell?
"A couple of years ago I made a short film for BBC3’s horror competition show “The Fear”. The film was based on this exact premise, I was watching something on TV I forget, but they were running from a monster. Something pinged in my head and I thought “What if these things were everywhere and people just lived with them, even having contingencies in place to deal with them”. From this I made the short film “Anomaly”, but it really only scratched the surface of this potential universe. I figured the best way to realise this universe was with complete freedom in the form of a video game."

What exactly is the significanc of Hanwell, the city, to the games storyline?
"The storyline is completely interwoven with the city, the only reason the things that are happening to your character is because of Hanwells existence. Although Hanwell is a real place in London, the games setting is of course fictional. We did put the real life Hanwell clock-tower in however, at the request of a fan."

Is it going to be story or gameplay driven?
"Again, I’d have to say both, the main story is driven by gameplay, and the gameplay is motivated by story. In addition to this there are many other smaller stories to discover and experience as well as unique gameplay mechanics that can be unlocked by exploring. Some of which may not even be found on the first playthrough."

What makes your horror title stick out from others?
"Hanwell, I think Hanwell makes the game unique in that it's entirely up to you what you do and where you go, but not in the zombie survival sense, it's more like a horror based Fallout or Skyrim. It was an interesting challenge to ensure the game maintains a pace that keeps it creepy, thrilling and occasionally releiving when you can do whatever you like. But I think we nailed it in the end."

What's your scariest moment developing the game?
"When I was testing I encountered a particularly scary moment with The Brute. The Brute can show up at any time for any reason, there's an audio cue when he's entered you're area so I knew he was around but of course I had no idea where. Anyway I was carefully making my way through the school, checking collision and the usual stuff you do when testing, when around the corner he came. Immediately he had his hands around my digital neck which triggered my Xbox controller to vibrate which was on the side. These things combined scared the shit out of me causing me to jump and knock water all over my PC and my stupidly placed backup drive on top of the PC. Everything cut off. So for a moment not only was I in need of a new pair of pants, I thought I'd lost the project file and the backup! Turns out I knocked the power cable which turned off the PC, both the PC and the drive were fine. But good lord was that a scary moment. On two fronts!"

What's your favorite part of the story itself?
"I can't tell you my favourite part of the story because my favourite part is the big reveal, which would completely ruin the main storyline for everyone! I'll tell you my favourite character though, The Mayor, voiced by the amazingly talented Charlotte East. There's such an authenticity to the way the character is portrayed, as someone who genuinely wanted the best for her residents in an ugly world she couldn't protect."

Will there be other modes or strictly campaign?
"Campaign but I wouldn't say strictly, there's already a new game plus and it wouldn't be too much work to add in a wave mode or something, maybe an arena to fight Anomalies in. But this would come as a later update. Free of course!"

This game sounds like it is going to be a great mix of some of the best aspects in horror games so far and I can't wait to try out an open world horror game! You can follow for updates on the Welcome to Hanwell Facebook.

Do you think you are brave enough to travel through the streets of Hanwell this fall?

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