Zoochosis Interview – Console Release Planned After PC

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Our interview with Clapperheads shed light on the horror game resurgence, a potential subscription release, and more.

Story Highlight
  • Zoochosis has caught everyone’s attention for its innovative take on bodycam horror.
  • The game revolves around mutating animals that evolve into unsettling monstrosities throughout a playthrough.
  • We recently spoke to Clapperheads about this concept and discussed the use of jumpscares, the game’s multiple endings, and more.

Horror games are doing better than ever today, and a large part of this resurgence is the impact of indie studios. From games like Sons of the Forest to Iron Lung, smaller teams have come forth with unique ideas, innovative gameplay elements, and high-quality titles in recent years.

Zoochosis is shaping up to be yet another exciting addition to this list. Relying on bodycam horror and the basic concept of animal mutations, this game has already become quite the head-turner for horror game enthusiasts.

We recently had the opportunity to delve further into Zoochosis with Executive Producer Oleg Gaze, Lead Game Designer Valentin Shchekin, and Head of Business Solvita Zacha.

The three members of Clapperheads explained to us their approach to bodycam horror, the importance of using jump scares smartly, and more.

Zoochosis
A Lot Can Quickly Go Wrong In Zoochosis
Zoochosis was announced earlier this year. How long has it been in development?

OLEG GAZE: We’ve been developing the game for over a year now.

Trailers show many morphed and creepy animals. These can be used for shock value and jump scares, but many games go overboard with jump scares. How do you balance this element to ensure such moments remain meaningful throughout the game?

OLEG GAZE: We hope to surprise you with our ideas in both the horror and simulator genres. Jumpscares will definitely be in our game. Horror games simply can’t do without them. We understand that players may see jumpscares as a cliché, but it’s a cliché for a reason—it works. The key is to use them correctly. That’s exactly what we aim to do.

VALENTIN SHCHEKIN: There’s an objective reason why jumpscares in many games seem inappropriate and annoying. The main reason is that the jumpscare itself doesn’t work; it’s just the culmination in the structure of a scary moment.

This can be explained very well through a parallel with stand-up comedy. Firstly, there’s always the setup, providing the audience with context where they make assumptions about how the joke will end. Then comes the punchline, which shatters those assumptions and generates laughter. In horror, it’s the same. You need to first create the context that something scary is about to happen, allowing the player to make assumptions about what comes next, which lowers their guard. Then, you can deliver the jumpscare (the punchline), which shatters their expectations. Of course, all of this needs to be submerged in a tense atmosphere, and after the jumpscare, time should be given for the player to experience catharsis. So, in summary, there are four elements of a non-irritating jumpscare: tense atmosphere, setup, jumpscare (punchline), and catharsis.

Can you describe the core gameplay loop briefly? Does it feature any combat?

OLEG GAZE: Of course, we can describe it: interact with the animals, take care of them, choose and prepare a meal for them, restock and clean up after them in the enclosure, then conduct analyses and develop vaccines based on them. Your goal is to save the infected animal, and it’s crucial to do it in time, otherwise you’ll die first. We’d prefer not to share all the details right now because we’re preparing plenty of exciting surprises for you. We truly believe you’ll enjoy our original mechanics.

How long would you say the main story lasts? Are there any branching paths for further replayability?

VALENTIN SHCHEKIN: The game is designed to be replayed multiple times in order to experience all the content we’ve planned. I’d refer to these playthroughs as ‘sessions.’ Currently, playtests indicate that the first session will take about three hours. Of course, we’ve implemented procedural generation of the world to ensure that each session is unique. We’ve even developed and are currently testing a Jumpscare Director, which dynamically adjusts the jump scares based on the situation and the character’s stress level.

OLEG GAZE: The game is non-linear and highly replayable. We prefer not to disclose the exact number of endings, but let’s just say it’s measured in double digits. Choices matter!

According to the announcement, your game will be released in 2024. Can you share a more specific release window?

SOLVITA ZACHA: We still need a few more months. We’ll announce the release date soon! We’re brainstorming creative ways to make the announcement.

Clapperheads consists of developers from across the globe. Was remote work a major theme during the development of Zoochosis? Do you think remote work typically has a positive impact on game development?

SOLVITA ZACHA: Like any phenomenon, there are two sides to this situation. On one hand, there’s the multicultural effect, and we greatly value hearing from people from the United States, Japan, and Uzbekistan – their opinions enrich the culture of our company and our games. On the other hand, of course, there’s always the pleasure of sitting together and doing something here and now, sparking creative and lively discussions. Nothing can replace face-to-face interaction. But we had to make a choice – and we’ve chosen multiculturalism.

Despite Clapperheads’ comparatively smaller team, has your workforce been impacted in any way by the recent industry-wide layoffs?

OLEG GAZE: Actually, this didn’t affect us directly because we’re like a family, and in a family, you don’t lay off members. On the contrary, we’re considering expanding our team.

Horror games seem to be going through a resurgence recently, both in the AAA and indie space. What are your thoughts on this current popularity?

VALENTIN SHCHEKIN:I believe this revival is happening because developers have found a way to tell something new to the audience. For instance, there’s a new internet generation, roughly from 6-7 to 12-14 years old, who also want to experience fear.

For them, the concept of ‘horror mascots’ has emerged, where playful characters engage in scary activities, which incidentally scare not only children. Another example is the use of techniques like Bodycam. In reality, it’s just a change in perspective, but it has given the industry a significant boost, providing an ideal perspective for horror experiences.

OLEG GAZE: We would answer the question with a question: When was this genre not popular?

Speaking of horror games, how do you differentiate Zoochosis from the rest apart from the body cam focus?

OLEG GAZE: We don’t believe that the Bodycam sets us apart. What truly distinguishes us is the concept itself.

VALENTIN SHCHEKIN: In fact, we have a setting that completely disables the Bodycam for those who are strongly affected by such effects.

Zoochosis is currently coming to PC. Do you have plans to bring the game to consoles eventually?

SOLVITA ZACHA: We are planning to bring the game to consoles after the PC release.

Would you be interested in a subscription launch if a console release happens eventually?

SOLVITA ZACHA: We would be interested in any delivery method for our game that brings joy to people, including a subscription model.

Zoochosis
Zoochosis’ Core Gameplay Revolves Around Protecting The Animals From Getting Infected

Clapperheads has yet to nail a firm release date for Zoochosis, but the title is already subject to mass anticipation.

There is a lot to look forward to, thanks to elements like procedural generation and a potential system that dynamically adjusts jump scares. As we, alongside many others, wait for more information, we can’t wait to see how Zoochosis comes into its own.

We also thank Clapperheads for this interview and wish them all the best for their ambitious take on bodycam horror.

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