Welcome to Hanwell, the world left it to rot, and now the world will rot in its wake.
Welcome to Hanwell is a first-person, open-world horror game set in the near future. This open-world experience aims to pack a punch, with the promise of a truly dense environment that seeks to immerse the player in a narrative like no other.
Earlier this week, I was lucky enough to snag a coffee and a chat with the creator of the game, Nathan Seedhouse. As well as some juicy new game details, Nathan has also, very kindly, provided Now Loading with a bunch of new and exclusive, never before seen assets. Welcome to the world of Hanwell, tread carefully though, here, there be monsters.
The game is set in Hanwell, a once idyllic town, hidden away, protected from the horrors of the world. The player will be able to explore a dense open-world of terror where every building, bus stop and cafe has a unique and harrowing story to tell.
Monsters, known as Anomalies, lurk just beyond the shadows. These Anomalies are relentless, a truly evil creature that wants for nothing more than murder and mutilation.
Hanwell is now a forsaken place, cut off from the world. The dilapidated ruins of the town are nothing but a stinking cesspit of anomalous scum.
But there is a story to be told here, a tale of ill-fated destiny. A tale of death and destruction preserved just beneath the dust and decay. It is the tale of a town, and it's sinister secrets, but first, you have to make it through the night.
It all sounds incredible, an inspired concept that promises to deliver a boot load of scares and OMG, WTF moments. Let's read on and see what Nathan had to say.
Where did the inspiration come from, did you play horror games growing up?
It all started with a short film titled “Anomaly” I made a couple of years ago for BBC3's horror competition “The Fear”. I was watching something I forget the name of, maybe Supernatural, and people were running from something, they put salt across the doorway to stop it from getting in, I sat and thought “Imagine a world where all these supernatural beings just existed. Where people were so used to them being around, they actually had contingencies in place to deal with them.”
From there I came up with a story about a guy has his day interrupted by a warning from the local council. Warning him to prepare, with no more explanation. He just knew immediately what to do. Once that was done I kept thinking of all these ideas for the universe our guy lives in, the potential, for me, was huge. With so many possible encounters in a world where monsters just exist. This led to my desire to turn it into a video game. I want the player to feel like he is a part of this universe, to dread the sound of the warning system and to prepare accordingly.
Growing up I tried to play horror games, I remember the utter terror I felt the first time I tried Silent Hill 2. The hiss of the radio in the apartments many of you may remember, I knew something was there but where!? A game that ten year old me could barely deal with, in fact didn’t deal with, to this day, I still haven’t finished it! Despite its heavy inspiration on Welcome to Hanwell.
How large is the world?
By typical open world standards the world isn’t mind bogglingly huge. What makes Welcome to Hanwell different to most open world games is its density. The game is incredibly dense, almost every building can be entered each with its own self-contained plot, history and backstory. Plus the main storyline which takes you across the whole city.
There are over 100 interior locations to explore, which you will discover while exploring the main world of Hanwell. I’ve been very careful to give each new location as much attention as the last.
Why did you create this game?
I was searching Steam for a decent open world horror game with a real narrative. But I couldn’t find anything. It was mostly the very open (but very empty) zombie survival games or Slender types, which can be good, but I think a little saturated at this point. I wanted something different, like an itch in a very hard to reach place, with no available apparatus to scratch it. So I decided to make a game I wanted to play. Which I often do, while testing I’ll just sit and play, I sometimes completely forget I’m still working on it.
Also I have been told many times that horror doesn’t work in an open world setting, and I beg to differ. I saw it as a very enticing challenge.
Will it come to Xbox One and PS4?
I really, really hope so. It’s by far the biggest request we get. So as soon as work is complete on the PC version I’ll immediately start looking into porting. Hopefully it will be relatively straight forward with the Unreal Engine.
Who is the protagonist?
Whoever you want to be! Initially you’ve been transferred from Hanwell jail to The Councils research centre, but once you’ve taken control, his story is yours.
Who is the Antagonist?
The Doctor is the most notable, I can’t tell you too much about The Doctor without ruining some of the major plot points, but he was doing some shady stuff working for The Council when he was developing the technology to keep the Anomalies contained. He went rogue when the city’s mayor refused to let him take any more people from Hanwell jail. She thought, since the city was now considered the safest place in the world from the Anomalies that his research had played its part, and needn’t go any further. Like any man of science, this didn’t go down too well with him.
It all sounds very promising. A new take on open-world adventure that focuses on density over scale. This is certainly a concept I can get behind. To me the atmosphere wreaks of that, oh so iconic, fan-favourite horror Silent Hill but it has unique and defining overtones that separate the concept enough for it to be a welcome new title to the genre.
I have spent a little bit of time with the game over the past few days and have to say that it does tick a lot of boxes for me, it is looking like a truly immersive, uncomfortable experience and that, for me, is what horror is all about.
What do you think? We will debut more exclusive Welcome to Hanwell content over the coming weeks, expect an all new teaser this weekend aswell as new gameplay and trailers as we approach release.
Want to know more? Ask the dev a question below and be sure to add yourself to the steam wishlist.