Four Stories Below: A Psychological Thriller-Adventure Game
A high-intensity adventure game that challenges you with moral decisions and the task of escaping captivity in real-time.
Four Stories Below is an adventure game in development for PC/Steam, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. However, we don’t want this to be your average adventure game/”Walking Simulator!” Rather, with this project, we’re ditching the slow, plodding gameplay traditionally seen in the genre in favor of a more energetic approach. With a real-time race against the clock, stealth-based exploration, actual fail states, and a focus on fast-paced decision-making, Four Stories Below aims to provide a gameplay experience that’s just as exciting and memorable as the narratives this genre is known for.
With this reimagined structuring of the classic genre, 2Man Game Studio’s goal is to create a first-person psychological thriller. Inspired by such movies as Saw, 10 Cloverfield Lane, Green Room, and Blue Ruin, our desire is to capture the feeling of watching a thriller film and transform it into a playable experience that places you in the leading role.
Now, after learning from our previous Kickstarter campaign’s successes and mistakes, we are truly ready to share our vision with adventure game enthusiasts and horror/thriller fanatics around the world! We hope this is a project that speaks to you and presents an idea you’d love to experience; if it does, then support our campaign! Become a backer and spread the word so 2Man Game Studio can make Four Stories Below a reality!
(For the best viewing experience, we do recommend watching the trailer above before reading any further.)
Brie Snyder, a young college graduate, is kidnapped upon landing in New York while on vacation. When Brie awakens, she finds herself locked in an abandoned office building four stories underground. With two hours remaining before her captors return, she uses her one chance to escape. However, as she ascends through the building, Brie discovers she isn’t alone; trapped in the facility alongside her are four other victims. With every fleeting second becoming more important than the last, Brie must decide whether to spend that time helping the people around her or saving herself.
When sharing information about Four Stories Below’s narrative, it’s tricky trying to provide enough details without ruining the surprises we have in store for you. Our goal is to provide a thrilling mystery that unravels as you explore and make decisions. We want players to have vastly different experiences from one another. Some will be solely focused on attaining freedom to the point that they never take the time to learn about their fellow victims; meanwhile, others will dig so deep into the game’s characters and lore to discover more information that they fail to escape before their two hours are up.
Nevertheless, we can share a few more details to accompany the plot synopsis above. To start, the building in which the game takes place has its own story to tell; you can uncover the truth of what happened in the past and how it has impacted numerous lives throughout the years. There is also a total of eight main characters, each of whom has a backstory and personality that can be discovered through dialogue as well as environmental storytelling. Along with this, these eight individuals share another common characteristic: each of their fates is determined by your actions.
Four Stories Below is a single-player, first-person adventure game that’s infused with elements from the survival horror, stealth, and RPG genres. You are placed in the shoes of Brie Snyder as she attempts to escape the building she’s confined within and rise towards freedom. However, there is a twist; the entire game plays out in real-time. Just like Brie, you only have two hours to find your way out and survive. And with a series of unknown perils before you, escaping captivity won’t be so easy.
Every aspect of Four Stories Below is intentionally designed to be taxing on the player, truly placing you in that world as a survivor. Usable resources are scarce, security cameras lurk in the shadows, and making a flawed decision can lead to a character’s death. You also won't have access to any handheld maps to guide you through the maze-like layout of the facility; alternatively, you must memorize your environment and all of its details, taking chances regarding where you go next in hopes that it isn’t a wrong path that wastes your precious time. And with our save system that forces you to live with every action and error that you make, time is certainly of the essence. There is no going back.
Here is a full breakdown of the mechanics and gameplay elements present within the game:
- Semi-Open World – Explore and navigate your way through the four varied floors of the building that imprisons Brie. The facility only contains one exit that leads to freedom, but how you get there is up to you.
- Time Limit – The entire game is played in real-time and challenges you to decide what you’re going to accomplish within the allotted time. Every second matters.
- Surveillance Cameras – Cameras lurk in the hallways, beams of light illuminating their view. If you’re spotted, they’ll alert Brie’s captors of her escape, provoking them to return more quickly and cutting your remaining time in half.
- Use the Environment – The in-game environment is filled with interactive objects that will be crucial to your survival. Opening doors can provide cover from cameras, crawling through air ducts allows access to new areas, activating power breakers restores light to certain regions, and more.
- Dialogue System and Trust – Each of the prisoners you encounter have a vast dialogue tree to explore. As you converse, you’ll have the chance to determine how Brie interacts with them. Depending on your dialogue choices and how long you spend with each individual, your level of Trust will fluctuate, changing the likelihood of riskier interactions having a positive outcome.
- No Morality System – There is no morality system in Four Stories Below that will bias your actions nor are there clear black and white choices. Instead, you will be presented with moral gray areas, making honest decisions based upon your own personal feelings and beliefs.
- Collect Information – Uncover information about the prisoners, their captors, and the building itself through dialogue as well as hidden narrative items. What you discover will drastically alter the course of your game.
- Multiple Endings – Your actions and the information you collect control the fate of every individual in the story. There are several possible endings for each character and the outcome of one person will have consequences that affect someone else.
- Scavenging and Usable Items – When interacting with certain objects in the environment, there is a chance for useful items to spawn inside. Searching for these items can be incredibly beneficial; they have the ability to mark where you’ve been, illuminate pitch black areas of the building, and open quicker routes to freedom.
- Character Progression – As Brie grows more accustomed to her situation and progresses, she will have the ability to improve as a survivor and become more proficient. Using the Skill Tree, you can shape Brie to fit your personal playstyle and goals; you’ll have the chance to upgrade her running speed, inventory capacity, Trust with each character, scavenging odds, and other attributes.
- Save System – As stated before, every aspect of Four Stories Below is designed to be challenging to truly immerse you in our world. This design philosophy even extends to how the game is saved. After every action, be it a success or a failure, your game will be saved; you will not have the option to return to a previous save from before you made a wrong decision. After all, having the ability to erase a mistake and avoid the consequences of your actions would weaken the experience we want to provide.
Your Name in the Credits under “Kickstarter Backers” – A way for us to say “Thank You” for your support and forever commemorate all of you that truly believed in this project.
Digital Download Key – When Four Stories Below is released, you will receive a digital copy of the game on your platform of choice. (PC/Steam, PlayStation 4, or Xbox One)
Your Picture inside Four Stories Below – You’ll have the opportunity to send us a picture of you, your family, a loved one, or anyone you have legal permission from to use their photo. We will then place the photograph somewhere in the game’s environment, thus bringing lively detail into our world and allowing you to be a literal piece of the project you helped create.
Design a Character and Piece of Environmental Storytelling – The building you’ll be exploring as Brie may be abandoned, but it has several stories to tell; with this reward, you’ll work with 2Man Game Studio to bring one of those tales to life. You’ll receive secret information and backstory about the world of Four Stories Below, work with creator Keith Shingle via video calls to develop a character connected to the facility’s past, and tell that narrative within the environment.
Your Name in the Credits under “Community Developers” – For your work designing a character and story, you will receive recognition as a “Community Developer” in the game’s credits.
Limited Edition Four Stories Below T-Shirt – Receive your very own Four Stories Below T-Shirt! These shirts are only available during this Kickstarter Campaign and will feature the same designs worn by the Development Team when promoting the game at events/conventions. There are three designs to choose from. Sizes available are S – 3XL in Unisex and Female cuts.
Become a Four Stories Below Tester – Become a crucial component of the game development cycle. You’ll have the chance to work closely with the team, helping 2Man Game Studio test early versions of the game far before the public has their hands on the final release. Your feedback and gameplay will be used to improve the project in numerous ways, from refining gameplay systems to locating evasive bugs.
Your Name in the Credits under “Backer BFFs” – After working on such a serious game, we needed a random and fun reward for the sake of levity! If you pledge enough to reach our highest tier, you’ll receive this reward as a little bonus; your name and the name of your best friend will be proudly displayed together near the top of the credits under “Backer BFFs.” Celebrate that friendship!
(All submitted materials, such as character designs, narrative ideas, and pictures, will be subject to review. This is just to ensure everything is appropriate, fits the context of the game, and doesn’t contain copyright material.)
Freedom – From the beginning, creating Four Stories Below was always a risk. It’s an experimental game that combines genres into something new, has a movie length runtime, doesn’t utilize combat in its gameplay, and contains a narrative that touches upon difficult subject matter, such as human trafficking and suicide. This is a tricky project that could easily frighten publishers; not to mention, it’s one that requires the right amount of time and care to execute all of its ideas properly. By using Kickstarter, we are granted the freedom necessary to develop this project without any compromises to our original creative vision, all without having to rush the process and settle for an imperfect product.
Funding – As a new independent studio, we lack the professional equipment utilized by other well-established developers. To create the Kickstarter Trailer/Proof of Concept video above, we had to use the technology on hand. All of the footage was developed and recorded on an aging 2012 MacBook Pro with an integrated Intel HD Graphics 4000 GPU. For those familiar with computers, you know that isn’t a powerful setup by any means. Though we’re incredibly proud of the trailer and how far we pushed that laptop, it is clear that making the full game on that hardware just isn’t possible.
That is where Kickstarter comes in once again! With your support, we can acquire the budget to fund development of Four Stories Below. We’ll have the ability to purchase the equipment 2Man Game Studio requires and the software licenses that are necessary throughout the game’s development cycle. Along with all of this, the funding 2Man Game Studio receives through Kickstarter allows us to bring on additional help when it’s needed. We’ll be free to reach outside of the studio and properly pay artists, sound designers, and more to ensure we develop an all-around quality game.
Community – With this project, it is our goal to create a welcoming community for all of you to enjoy! We want Four Stories Below to serve as a common interest that brings people together from all over the world. Theorize about what might lie ahead in the story, reach out to fellow fans, create your own works of art, and make this warm environment your own.
Luckily, the benefit of using Kickstarter is that the community is formed early on in development, meaning you can all be involved in the making of Four Stories Below! Over the development cycle, we plan to constantly reach out to our audience with live streams and social media posts; you’ll get to meet the development team, see behind the scenes as the game is being created, and have the chance to shape the final product with your feedback. Perhaps, if we are extremely lucky, 2Man Game Studio will even get to represent this project at conventions and meet some of you in person!
Our base goal for Four Stories Below is $10,000; with this money, we’ll be able to purchase the necessary hardware and software to complete development on the project. Luckily, both members of 2Man Game Studio have stable living conditions, so the $10,000 that’s raised will be going directly into the game itself. Any further funds that we earn will be used to purchase additional assets, hire extra help, improve Four Stories Below, and hopefully provide us with some income as well.
If you’ve seen our previous Kickstarter Campaign for Ascent, you’ll notice that our budget/funding goal is lower than before. While $15,000 would’ve covered absolutely everything the studio needed and allowed us to develop the game comfortably, we realized it was a harder target to achieve than initially expected. So, we had to reevaluate our goal and restructure our budget; since our desire is to bring this game to life no matter what, we are now only asking for enough to cover the basic essentials for development.
Here is a breakdown of the budget and how it will be distributed:
- Development Software: 45% - Software licenses for Unity Pro, Maya LT, and Substance B2M.
- Development Hardware: 35% - Alienware Aurora R6 that’s easy to upgrade and powerful enough to effortlessly handle the development of Four Stories Below. We’ll also be purchasing a dual monitor setup that will complete the development workstation, improving our workflow and productivity. All of the hardware that’s purchased will be used to develop future 2Man Game Studio projects as well.
- Backer Rewards: 10% - Producing and shipping all of your Backer Rewards.
- Kickstarter Fees: 10% - Standard Kickstarter fees for running a successful campaign and processing transactions.
Keith Shingle – Creative Half of 2Man Game Studio | @keithshingle
In my opinion, one of the most amazing aspects of indie development is the connection between the creators and the audience. It’s honest, touching, and personal; I absolutely love it! That is the exact type of relationship I want to have with all of you; my desire is for you to know who is creating the games you enjoy, meanwhile we get to meet the people that keep us going.
Over the next couple of years, it’s my goal that you’ll all come to know me very well. So, with that in mind, I’d like to get the ball rolling right now and share some information about myself!
Obviously, my name is Keith Shingle. I’m a lighthearted, energetic person that has loved the entertainment industry my whole life; after playing countless games and collecting hundreds of theater ticket stubs, it became clear to me that I wanted to be on the creative side of the industry as well, crafting experiences for others to enjoy. Upon having this realization and finishing high school, I immediately started my education at Full Sail University; within three years, I earned a Bachelor of Science in Game Design, graduating as Valedictorian of my class. Then, as crazy as it sounds, within a few days of returning home with my degree in hand 2Man Game Studio was founded.
Now, I’m here sharing my passion project with all of you and am incredibly grateful for your attention. I know it’s a lot to ask for you to trust in me, but that is what we are doing. In August, I’ll be celebrating five years as a Game Designer and hopefully my creation of the Kickstarter Trailer above proves my abilities. This game will be a challenge to develop, surely, but it’s one I designed knowing my own strengths and limitations. I will continue improving as a developer, just like I have since the conception of this project two years ago, and I’ll deliver Four Stories Below as promised. We can make this game a reality and I hope you decide to accompany me on this journey.
Andreo Palacol – Business Half of 2Man Game Studio | @ninopalacol
Technology has been a way of life for me. I’ve been engaged in tech-related companies for several years now. These ventures were not as successful as I wanted them to be and were considered “business lessons.” Just when I thought I was done with it and would only be focusing my efforts in a traditional retail setting, along came the birth of 2Man Game Studio. My introduction with Keith gave me a new hope of being able to make my dream come true; the dream of a tech company that has the true potential of developing great products.
Our passion for creating products that you’ll surely love will not turn into a success without your help. We are very excited to bring Four Stories Below to you and are confident that this project will allow our audience to experience something they’ve never had in any other horror or adventure game. We are looking forward to working with you in putting Four Stories Below into the market.
Risks and challenges
Creating Something Experimental – On paper, combining traditional adventure game elements with exciting gameplay mechanics sounds pretty simple. In reality, however, it may be a challenge to ensure that everything meshes together properly. Our vision of injecting the genre with a dose of urgency, conflict, and player agency needs to be executed flawlessly to make Four Stories Below an unforgettable experience. Luckily, by using Kickstarter, we are able to significantly mitigate the difficulty of this task. With no strict deadlines or a lack of funding causing us to cut corners, we’ll have the ability to take our time and iterate on the implementation of these experimental ideas until they are perfect.
First Commercial Release – This will be 2Man Game Studio’s first commercially released product and it’s quite a daunting task. There is much to learn, plenty that needs to be done, and we want to please all of you. Plus, with this being our first release, we may face a challenge with getting Four Stories Below onto the PlayStation Store. We’re going to try our very best and, if we mess up, all we ask for is patience and understanding. It may take time, but we will overcome any obstacle and deliver on our promises.
Finally, we’d like to state that 2Man Game Studio welcomes any form of help; if you have experience with launching a game, connections that can assist with getting the game onto major digital distribution platforms, or skills that could benefit the development of Four Stories Below, then we are all ears! This is a game for our community, by our community; so feel free to reach out to us!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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