Kingsmouth Hits All The Right Buttons

July 2, 2012

I believe I’ve mentioned before that one of the things that impressed me about The Secret War is its atmosphere. Funcom pays tribute to the masters of horror fiction and media while deftly utilizing elements defined by pop culture to play to our fears. The whole game oozes a dark, creepy vibe, and the town of Kingsmouth illustrates this nicely.

Stalked by Hugh Jackman as Wolverine.

TSW has perfectly captured a tiny slice of life in this beautiful, once peaceful seaside New England town that has been completely overrun by the forces of undead.

Playing in a dim environment with headphones on, it’s easy to become entirely immersed in the world without realizing that you’ve unwittingly ignored general and cabal chat for the last half hour (so I hope my guildies will forgive me for being anti-social).

It’s not just the quests that have grabbed a Kung Fu death grip hold on my attention, even though the investigation quests do tend to require a lot of concentration. It’s the sights and sounds that really do it for me — sudden loud noises like raid sirens ringing through the mist, the dozens of carrion crows perched disconcertingly over the devastation, or the innocent-looking corpses that suddenly animate as soon as you get close.

I also get a kick out of talking to the survivors of Kingsmouth and the flavor that they bring. I feel the script as well as the voice work are well done, though my husband, a native of Massachusetts, claims that Sheriff Helen Bannerman’s accent makes even the Pepperidge Farm guy sound authentic, so I guess what the hell do I know.

While I was playing yesterday, it occurred to me that seeing other player characters zip back and forth across my field of vision as we all run around actually, well, kind of works in this game. If anything, it plays to the confusion of waking up one day to find yourself sucked into the grips of a zombie apocalypse.

Funny thing is, I also always get this sudden urge to jump in and help another player fight whenever I come cross them in the middle of fending off zombies. Running past them or around them just feels…wrong? After all, humanity has to stick together to survive, and all that jazz. I think I watch too many zombie movies. A lifetime of that has conditioned me never to abandon a fellow human being to the undead.


  1. Glad to see a fellow “Arcadian” enjoying the game. I promise to pitch in if I see you knee deep in zombies. 😉

  2. I’ve jumped a few times, I’ll admit Once even had goosebumps shoot up my arm. One of the most atmospheric games I’ve ever played.

    • Yeah, I’ve had that happen, when I was playing by alone and let myself be completely taken in by the game. I imagine this would be a great game to play during the wee hours of the morning when I get up to feed the baby, when there’s hardly anyone on, because when I play with my husband at nights there’s always distractions and we’re also always talking to each other.

  3. I am glad I am not the only one…. when I see someone being chased by a couple of packs of zombies, I have the overwhelming desire to hop in and blade torrent til they are dead 🙂

  4. I have to agree with your husband on the Sheriff; she sounds more like she’s from Queens than New England or even Boston to me. But I still like her.

    I’m amazed by how good some of the dialog is in here. Lots of quote opportunities.

    I shared this on G+ and hope you won’t mind me reposting here:

    One fun moment from The Secret World (#tsw). I was threading my way through some tough (for me) creepy monsters trying not to draw aggro. Suddenly a huge shadow loomed up right next to me and I freaked out, spinning around to look behind me.

    And relaxed when I saw the sun was low on the horizon and the huge shadow I was seeing was actually being thrown by a “normal sized” monster a good ways behind me walking along a ridge line. Then I noticed that my own shadow was 20 feet long or so…

    Still even knowing what was going on, it had me feeling pretty paranoid for a good while.

    It’s a simple enough thing but I don’t remember it ever happening in an MMO before.

    • Exactly! Use of lighting is brilliant in this game. I’m sure Tornquist’s background in film has a lot to do with it.

      • That explains a lot. I was also marveling at the camera angles in the cinematic cutscenes this weekend.

    • Not to defend them exactly, but it’s not beyond reason to think that Sheriff Bannerman might not be native to Kingsmouth. What do I know? All y’all Yanks sound the same to this CA-born TX transplant.

      • I’m even less of an authority on American accents, Canuck that I am. But you might be right about the townsfolk not being native. I mean, one of the first people you meet in Kingsmouth is a cowboy, after all. And what a cowboy is doing in the middle of a zombie apocalypse in Maine, I can’t tell you either.

    • That’s a pretty damn good (and scary) story! I’ll have to pay more attention to the shadows next time. I just always happen to log on when it’s nighttime in the game.

  5. After fighting all the Zombies in Kingsmouth I can probably now maybe go watch Zombieland and not feel too bad.

    TSW is a heck of allot of fun and spookyness.

    Kept thinking I was in a novel or something like a Steven King movie. Just Spooky. But so far Kingsmouth is awesome. The Raven quest was creepy. Had an awesome time doing Polaris as well, was epic.

    Got to Faction Rank 2 which occure reaching a certain XP and after got a quest that so far took creepyness to a different level with “Into the Darkness. I was glad to be out of dark places after that.

    When I’m running around, I’m often helpful to lend a gunshot if someone seem to have a handfull of Zombies.

    • I need to get around to doing Polaris one of these nights. I’m hoping the hubby and I will get some time to stay up and do it later this week, maybe during the Fourth of July holiday.

  6. I never run passed someone in a fight. It seems the human thing to do to pitch in and kill the undead (we need a better term for this, how do you kill that which is not living). Nice to see so many people doing the same.

    • Agreed, I find myself helping and being helped all the time in Kingsmouth. It’s just the thing to do.

    • Yep, this game definitely puts you in the mood. I feel like I’m in a zombie movie, and we the living have got to look out for one another 🙂

      • Sorry to sound gamey but how does mob tagging and exp work? Do you get any credit (aside from the satisfaction of the human race surviving 😉 )?

  7. I simply love the game so far. Don’t know what to add 🙂

  8. I have to say one of my favorite things to do when I wanted to take a break. Was climb to the roof of one of the buildings and just sit and watch the other players.

    Best visual moment ever. A player running down the street with a pack of maybe 20 zombies chasing him…..all on fire!

  9. This has skyrocketed to the top of the list as one of the most engrossing, best ambiance, game experiences I’ve ever had. (and there’s many, many of them in my 27+ years of gaming. More if I count Pong and Odyssey.
    There’s a few negatives such as long loading times and more Char creation options. (um..EA?? You make Sims 3 – you know, the one that allows for infinite facial creation and color options??)
    Seriously considering WoW un-install and purchasing the lifetime upgrade for TSW. I’m loving every minute of it.

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