The beloved horror novelist RL Stein is best known for his two long-running book series. Fear Street and goosebumps. Goose Bumps tames and reinvents the horror metaphor for younger viewers when Fear Street can be in a horrifying and dire situation. If Dead by Daylight is Fear Street, Propnight is Goose bumps. Its skeleton is the same as Twitch’s favorite, but wearing a very different, much more vibrant skin suit. And underneath that skin is a new collection of intestines and organs newly transplanted from the transforming hide-and-seek game, Prop Hunt.

Created by FNTASTIC, the developer of the next zombie MMO The Day Before, Propnight is an asymmetric multiplayer PC game where four teenage survivors need to escape a nightmare while being attacked by a player-controlled murderer. is. To get out of this horror realm, you need to repair five “prop machines” before you run out of time. Each time you repair a new device, the unsuccessful end of the match is further delayed. Successful repair of all five without being killed opens a series of doors where anyone can escape victory. I’ve played a dozen games, but if you’re familiar with Dead by Daylight, it’s no exaggeration to say that many of Propnight are of a second nature to you. Machine repairs also have a superbly tense quick-time event that, if unsuccessful, causes gear to splatter and explode, warning the murderer of your location.

Propnight is not a streamer darling straight doppelganger. It connects the concept with another cult multiplayer favorite, the Prop Hunt. Originally popular in Garry’s Mod mode, Prop Hunt allows players to transform into items to hide from enemies. In Propnight, all survivors have this ability. Can you hear the killer walking towards you? It can be erased by forming a box and stacking it on a shelf. It hits a cornfield and imitates a scarecrow. Or it becomes cabbage and rolls safely. As long as it’s immediately graspable, you can be a clone of almost any item you can see.

This small change has a huge impact on how Pronight plays when compared to its apparent inspiration. Dead by Daylight is a cat-and-mouse tense game, while Propnight is a hide-and-seek panic session. As a survivor, the learning curve requires you to learn how to effectively disguise in the world, but the urgency provided by the time limit of a match means you simply can’t hide forever. To do. They are also forced to return to human form to repair the machine. This process takes a very long time and creates tension.

Survivors are vulnerable, but my first impression is that their ability to transform into props is an incredibly powerful tool. They now feel a greater advantage than the killer due to the large number of very small props. At least the only map I could play on (a classic American farm full of cornfields and dusty barns) is stones, soda bottles, and hammers. All of these are top notch options as they can be easily hidden. Under a box or shelf. However, reducing the number of these props makes them less interesting, so I’d like FNTASTIC to experiment with map design to find a way to balance the invisibility associated with turning into rocks. A better look across the map can greatly help the murderer through raised geography, windows and crevices, and increase the pace and tension of the game.

To fight the prop system, each of the four playable murderers has something in their ability set to help find survivors. For example, a keymaster can temporarily place spectral eyes that emphasize nearby teens. Fraudsters, on the other hand, can not only disguise themselves as props (which other murderers cannot do), but also impersonate other survivors to hide wolves in sheep. These tools help us figure out what the survivors are doing, but their abilities alone don’t seem to be enough to carry the killer in the match. Learning map knowledge and proper placement of all items in the world is almost certainly of significant tactical value. Looking at a stack of crates that are too high is a good indicator of what the survivors are trying to hide from you. But even if I don’t understand how every corner of the map is decorated, I immediately suspect an item in a strange place and hear the gentle sound of a soda jar rolling across the room. I learned that.

Propnight screenshot

With Pro Night bonus points, this is all For real Interesting; seeing the killer hit everything in the room while sitting in the guise of a pumpkin behind is the punch line I’ve consistently endured throughout my multiple games. This is assisted by an attractive visual style. All four different murderers appear to have walked from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer set, but the survivors include Billie Eilish’s Doppelganger. This is a style that scrapes off the usual horror stains, but retains its unique personality. There’s still a final girl, a confident jock, and a nun-like banshee ready to scream until the eardrum bursts.

What we’ve seen in Propnight so far is already a solid proof of concept. With just one map and four killer, it has already been proven as a fun and humorous alternative to other more scary multiplayer horror games. And while it’s probably impossible to knock your beloved ancestors off the perch at this stage, Dead by Daylight should put an extra knife under the pillow and start sleeping.

Propnight is holding a PC open beta on Steam from October 15th to October 18th.

Matt Purslow is IGN’s UK news and entertainment writer.