Eldritch Automata mechanizes the body horrific

Screw processing, punch the horrors of being alive directly in the face with a giant mecha fist, that’ll cure your depression for sure.

Eldritch Automata mechanizes the body horrific

Nicholas Francia, the lead designer of Eldritch Automata, knows exactly what kind of game he’s making. Using the Year Zero Engine, E//A is brutal, narrative-focused, and with just a sliver of hope hidden underneath the dutiful expectation of a soldier bound to destroy themselves for the greater good. With inspirations from anime like Escaflowne and movies like Pacific Rim, Francia has worked to mix horror into a genre that has always focused on personal pain. It doesn't hurt that Gehenna Gaming—masters of the horror RPG—are involved in the production.

As monstrous creatures along both ends of the demonic spectrum—from biblically-accurate angels intent on destroying humanity to mindless demons culled out of some dark hell—attempt to destroy humanity, the Automata pilots sacrifice themselves to create the first wall of defense. And sometimes the second and third walls too. 

Francia sat down with Rascal over email to answer questions about the new game that is heading back to crowdfunding soon. 

Lin Codega: Horror is a twist on the usual genres that mecha-inspired games usually operate within. How did you design this game to support those horror elements? 

Nicholas Francia: It’s honestly kind of a challenge. The mecha genre inherently has a bit of a power fantasy going on, which fundamentally clashes with horror. In Call of Cthulhu and Kult you’re a very small fish in a big ocean of bad, and the feeling of being helpless lends itself to the horror. But how can you feel helpless in a big badass robot? Well, in E//A, everything has a cost, the Automata works as a parasitic relationship with their pilot. For an Automata to operate and use its larger-than-life abilities, it drains Ego from the pilot. The pilot’s sense of self, the “I” interfaces with the Automata in the cockpit (we call it an Ego Chamber). As the player pushes their Automata harder, they find themselves losing that sense of self. That sort of ego death is the lingering terror behind every action you take in your Automata.

Of course, this is all tracked numerically on a character sheet, so it’s a constant reminder every time you look at your sheet. For the most part, this is all self-inflicted. The player must actively choose to go to those limits.  So yeah enjoy yourself, think yourself invincible. But know that there will be a time that the gas tank comes up empty, and when it does, it all goes downhill.