Alumni Projects: U55 – End of the Line

Leaving VFS is hard. I dare say just about every alumnus or alumna can sing a song about the emptiness you start to feel once you relinquish your key card…
So what do we do to fill this hole? We move on to other amazing and exciting projects!!

In my case this was U55 – END OF THE LINE, a project that my friend Malte M. Boettcher had started back in Germany.
Unified by a strong vision, he assembled a team of about 20 people, all of whom were eager to get on board the project and contribute to the planning and development of U55.

U55 – END OF THE LINE is a survival horror action adventure set in the subway system underneath Berlin that leads players through a subterranean maze infested with unimaginable horrors.

Players take on the role of David, an American exchange student who is on his way to meet his girlfriend at the Berlin Hauptbahnhof, when the subway train crashes. As he awakes, he finds the mutilated body of a subway worker next to him and the subway station in shambles. A strange noise catches his attention, apparently he is not alone! Something sinister sounding lurks in the shadows and David tries to get a glimpse of his environment, using his cellphone to illuminate his immediate surroundings. How will he get out of here? And why is nobody answering his emergency calls?

David’s cellphone is one of the main features of the game. He uses it as a torch and, while being unable to reach anybody on the outside, he can download apps that allow him to better control his environments. We plan on implementing several apps, including a translation app that allows him to decipher anything, from German newspapers to Russian documents from the Cold War era. Another app imitates animal noises to help David distract enemies in the close environment of the subway tunnels.

Sound plays a hugely important role in the game. Employing so-called binaural beats we are able to manipulate the players’ perception of their environment. This technique is used in neuropsychology to help with insomnia or migraines, but can also be used for a rather… unsettling effect.

Of course in such a game, atmosphere is immensely important and Berlin is the perfect backdrop for a mysterious horror setting. Did you know that starting in 1938 an entire Autobahn (highway) was being built underneath the city? Throughout the subway system, Berlin is riddled with relics from centuries of history and who is to say that even older things might lurk down there?

The game’s lore is deeply rooted within the mythology of Howard Phillips Lovecraft, whose works have influenced what we perceive to be horror. Often times the protagonists in his stories found themselves confronted with beings far too powerful and otherworldly to be grasped by a feeble human mind. Granted, H.P. Lovecraft had his own demons to fight, after all he was a terribly neurotic xenophobe, but mostly his stories deal with the insignificance of humanity when faced with cosmic forces older and more powerful than they could ever imagine.

You can see our work is cut out for us right there.

And while we designers get our hands dirty with figuring out questions of cosmic magnitude, our artists and coders have put together a demo that we could show for pitching to publishers and, most importantly, to our Kickstarter backers.

As we are a young team with a solid industry background but without the big names to help us reel in backers, we rely on our communities and all the media attention we can garner to get U55 – END OF THE LINE underway. For now all of us work on the game in our spare time, but in order to get the game to the quality and polish we intend to, we need all the help we can get.

So, visit us on Kickstarter, take a look at our gameplay trailer and please share your feedback with us under ! We’d love to hear your opinions and feedback!

Ulrika Tegtmeier is a recent VFS Game Design alumni