The Works of Mercy: Murder Is An Empty Vessel

The Works of Mercy is an upcoming psychological thriller/horror game developed by Polish-based developer Pentacle. The game was originally funded in March 2016 with a release date of August 2016, which as the developers would have soon come to realise was too short of a development time, especially for the modest amount of funding they asked for. The developers have now indicated a revised date of August 2017 and if the demo is anything to go by, it may well be worth the wait.

Storywise, the game looks to be a heavy narrative experience. You awake in your apartment and before long a mysterious phone call clues you into the fact that somebody has your wife and child hostage and if you want to see them again, you’re going to have to do some unspeakable acts. The demo ends on a cliffhanger of you waiting for a prostitute to arrive at your apartment. Your first victim.

The developers claim influences such as the films of Roman Polanski and Stanley Kubrick, and that alone is enough to be intriguing. For anyone with a brief insight into Christian theology, the title alone stokes the fires of mystery, and may possibly hint towards the aims of the game’s villain. Works of Mercy, in Catholicism, represent physical acts such as feeding the hungry but also spiritual acts such as instructing the ignorant.

The dialogue between the protagonist and mystery caller is extremely unsettling. There is a certain similarity between this villain and the Jigsaw Killer from the Saw films. You are being watched, there is no escape and you must comply. The Saw similarities coupled with the title heavily allude to the fact that the protagonist is about to be taught a very hard lesson, one he will never forget.

The Works of Mercy

The game is full of literary references from the books scattered around the apartment, including Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird and Garland’s The Beach. Whether these works influenced the developer and the plot of the game will remain another mystery for now, but the dialogue with the villain itself also belies this literary vein as he states “This is how I want the first chapter to begin”. You are the lead role, in an as of yet unpenned novel, with a disturbingly dark author.

Throughout the apartment are also disturbing pieces of physical art, not horrific in the traditional sense, but on the edge of the grotesque. On a side note, the developers offered backers a chance to include their own artwork in the game, and I can only applaud this attempt to showcase smaller artist’s work. Altogether the thought put into the smaller details such as the books and artwork, all help build a greater sense of foreboding. Although nothing happens in the demo, playing it is still an ‘edge of the seat’ experience.

One To Watch

Graphically, The Works of Mercy looks fantastic. It is built in Unreal Engine 4 and it is very surprising to see an indie game of this nature looking so incredible at such an early stage of development. Most indie games tend towards stylised art, and it is nice to see an attempt to go for the realistic, especially when this type of style doesn’t seem to age well in comparison.

Indie horror games have been well received in recent years, and so far this game shows no reason to be an exception. If the developers treat the plot correctly, pay attention to the nuances they have begun to build, then there is no reason this game won’t be a deeply dark and disturbing experience.

We look forward to exploring the main game upon release, but in the meantime, if you’d like to see more about the game or keep up to date with the latest information be sure to check out the game’s Steam page and developer’s Facebook.

David Beamer
David Beamer
Budding journalist from Ol' Blighty. Studied at the University of Nottingham. All-round geek and lover of gaming. Can usually find me trawling through Steam. Dislikes: decaff.
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