“No Players Online” Is the Perfect Short-Form Horror Game For That Slow-Creeping Scare
Sat, April 10, 2021

“No Players Online” Is the Perfect Short-Form Horror Game For That Slow-Creeping Scare

There are different ways to scare people. Some have a more hyperactive imagination and get pretty terrified from simply reading a book chock full of subtexts and just the right amount of build-up / Photo by: Dean Drobot via Shutterstock

 

There are different ways to scare people. 

Some have a more hyperactive imagination and get pretty terrified from simply reading a book chock full of subtexts and just the right amount of build-up, while others are more straightforward, taking delight in being shocked to elicit a scream. Some others can even be more contemplative, finding themselves more terrified when the effect of the scare is such that they cannot look away. 

This is the kind of game that “No Players Online” is, and it builds on dread and morbid curiosity so well that it’s become one of the strangest but talked about games in the last week. 

Up ‘till now, some players are still playing and figuring out some parts of the game. On Discord, the conversation is called “Some Players Online,” and it is where fans “dig deeper and discuss all of its possible secrets.” 

All By Myself

So how does this short and (not quite) sweet game play out? Well, it’s pretty easy. 

According to American technology news and media network The Verge, “No Players Online” is pretty faithful to its title. When you start the game, it is made to look like you have entered a game server and are waiting for another player to join you. Of course, once inside, you can’t just stand in the middle and not do anything, so you explore. 

As you go along, the Quake-style map will drop you into a location and give you a map that’s like every capture-the-map game ever. It’s cliched and gives off the feeling of the classic FPS game. In your explorations, eventually, you will chance upon the flag, which is meant to be your first goal.

“No Players Online” is pretty faithful to its title. When you start the game, it is made to look like you have entered a game server and are waiting for another player to join you / Photo by: Chris Moore via Flickr

 

And here the real fun begins. 

By now, you have been alone long enough to be wary of any other presence, but the game is relentless in the dread it’s going to build around you, and once you come back to the places you’ve already been, you realize they are not fully the same as when you were first there. The Verge writer Michael Moore explained that the dread, in this case, works well enough because the changes in the locations are “just enough out of place to be concerning.” 

Nothing is coming out to scare you yet, but the initial dread of the minuscule changes already primes you to expect something else. 

And something else will come. 

Let the Games Begin

After a while, the game will notify you that someone has joined the server. While in most FPS games, that usually means it’s a joy now that you can share the experience with someone else, in “No Players Online,” you have no gauge or understanding whether this new player is human or not, or if they even want to play with you. Since it is a horror game, there are clues laid out for players to figure out, and, once finished, a good ghost story grounding that’s actually “surprisingly emotional,” described by American horror genre news site Bloody Disgusting. 

But the game doesn’t stop there. The fun part is the second half of the game, which will kick out the player back onto the server list, with the game explaining that the connection the player had to the host was lost.

Gaming website Indie Ranger writes, “At this point, you might assume you’ve experienced the game in its entirety, but there is so much more to see! Entering the infamous Konami Code (up, up, down, down, left, right, B, A) on the empty server screen brings back the server list and allows for another playthrough.” 

While in most FPS games, that usually means it’s a joy now that you can share the experience with someone else, in “No Players Online,” you have no gauge or understanding whether this new player is human or not, or if they even want to play with you / Photo by: phileEOS via Pixabay

 

In this second playthrough, the joining of the characters will be a little faster, and they will be adding in more and more details as you play. For example, if you ever reach the point in the game where there is suddenly a floating eye in the sky and you shoot at it, the game will bring you to a cutscene of another place, with a “save” file that can be downloaded. 

What Indie Ranger added is that the second part of the game, after that “save” file, will then lead players into a room where certain sounds on a sound test menu will bring you back into the game again, getting respawned in another spooky place. 

There, players have to find a code in a “dark, grimy room” where they will be expected to have a code on standby to beat the game. 

According to Indie Ranger, the ending requires a certain code that could then be entered into a machine, in-game. After that, the machine will give a tube with the flag and the player will be kicked out onto the server list again, causing all servers to finally have players. 

The game ends when you are finally able to select a server and get the credits.