Asylum and the Art of Adventure Horror Gaming…aka my interview with Agustin Cordes

Every so often a game comes along that has the ability to not only entertain, but also to influence an entire gaming genre. Behind a game such as this is independent developer Agustin Cordes, the man responsible for the Adventure Horror phenomenon Scratches. Agustin kindly agreed to some Facebook and email chat, where we discussed Scratches, his original foray into the world of gaming journalism, and his next Adventure Horror evisceration: Asylum.

Q: Many of your fans – like myself – started their journey into adventure gaming with Scratches. How does it feel to know that something you created has helped shape so many people’s journeys into gaming?

You know, I was always amazed by the sheer amount of people that began adventuring with Scratches. This was supposed to be a classic game for the hardened Adventure veteran: dense, complex, difficult, with very few hints. For some reason that escapes me to this day, Scratches hit the right chord with many, many players. And yes, quite a few stuck with the Adventure genre ever since. Of course this makes me beyond happy; as a long-time staunch supporter of Adventures, it’s almost unreal to see people liking the game so much that they keep coming to the genre. But very cool, definitely.

Q: You have quite a unique sense of what your audiences crave when it comes to Horror Adventures. What drives your passion for the macabre?

I’m old school, both in terms of gaming and Horror. I love many current games but only a handful stay with me like many older games did. It’s worse with Horror: I hardly watch any recent scary movies these days and keep coming to the old stuff (and by old I don’t mean the 90’s, I do mean OLD). I grew up with movies starred by Christopher Lee, Vincent Price, Peter Cushing, then Italian Horror, 80’s slashers… Yes, some were gorier than others, but most excelled in achieving a strong mood, an art that seems neglected today, especially in movies. I also read a lot, and among my favourite writers are Poe and Lovecraft. Those two are the main culprits of my passion for the macabre and moody stories. So, you could say that Scratches and now Asylum are the result of these preferences; a sensibility for old school gaming together with the subtlety and mood that I loved in movies of yesteryear.

Q: You began your career as a gaming journalist and now run a blog – quite perfectly named Slightly Deranged – on which you talk about two of your passions: movies, and the gaming world (even mentioning one of my favourite games – Gemini Rue!). How did you first get into journalism?

Well, the blog isn’t “running” much these days as I hardly have the time to keep a good rate of articles. Every now and then I post something, but not as much as I wanted. I’m still hoping to properly revive it soon. But anyway, as you can imagine, I love discussing movies and games (and books now too!). I’ve been writing on and off for the past twelve years maybe. It all began in the Just Adventure+ forums; I was an active member there, often engaging in long discussions and posting short reviews of adventures. One day, a post I did about unfinished games became rather popular and the owner of the site back then – Randy Sluganski – suggested that I turned it into a full-blown article, which he later published. And that’s basically how it all started!

Q: Scratches was one of the first games you helped create. What made you decide to transition from journalist to game developer?

Actually, I always wanted to develop an Adventure. For a number of reasons, chief among them a demanding job I had at the time, that wasn’t feasible, so for a couple of years writing was a hobby that allowed me to slowly get into the industry, understand how things worked, pay more attention to current Adventures, etc. But I knew that eventually I would attempt to do a game, it was just a matter of finding the right moment. In many ways, Dark Fall was that catalyst; it was the game that proved a single man could do something as engaging and polished as bigger teams with big budgets. It wasn’t a drastic move though: Scratches did begin as a kind of hobby as well, but as soon as we announced the game with its first teaser, the positive reception floored me. It was far more enthusiastic than I ever expected, and that’s when I decided to quit my job and become and independent game developer.

Q: We’re all excited about Asylum – your newest addition to the madness of Horror Adventure gaming. How did you come up with the game’s concept?

Asylum had been roaming inside my head for a long time. For reasons hard to explain, I wanted to do a game inside an abandoned mental asylum. It seemed like the natural next step: first, an “unconventional” haunted house, then an “atypical” abandoned asylum; a special treatment of two of the most popular settings in Horror. I believe the environment hasn’t been fully exploited and one of the earlier goals was precisely to provide the experience of exploring such a large, decaying building at length. Of course the story has always been the main focus and the one in Asylum should more than please fans of Scratches; it builds upon similar themes and concepts, and it’s just as complex and engrossing. It’s taking a long time to complete but this is exactly the game I envisioned after Scratches.

Asylum is due for release in 2013, and I – as I’m sure many of you reading this – will be waiting with bated breath until that time. To help the time pass, you can check out Agustin’s latest updates on the following websites:
and on his @twitter feed:

While you’re at it, why not help Asylum get the Greenlight on Steam:



~ by lechatnoirmon on December 19, 2012.

One Response to “Asylum and the Art of Adventure Horror Gaming…aka my interview with Agustin Cordes”

  1. […] You may have read my relatively recent interview with Adventure Horror gaming genius Agustin Cordes. If not, you can read it here. […]

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