A downloadable nightmare for Windows

Backstage: Murdered Sleep is a psychological horror adventure game. It is the long-dreaded sequel to my 2005 rpgmaker horror classic (look, it's a very small niche, okay?) Backstage: A Nightmare In One Act: A Nightmare In One Act. 

Inspired most by the original luminaries of the Survival Horror genre--Resident Evil and especially Silent Hill--and the pantheon of horror media classics that inspired them, Backstage: Murdered Sleep blends atmospheric exploration and simple puzzle solving with tense real time combat and resource management. It greatly expands the enigmatic mythology of the Backstage universe while introducing new players to that dark version of our world for new players, and extrapolates the consequences and implications of the original game to a frightening new scale.

!!!WISHLIST ON STEAM HERE!!!

Anna Molly Grace is an ordinary college student with an extraordinary problem: sleep terrors so intense they make her life a living hell, keeping her trapped in a cycle of self medication and insomnia. Her personal sleep paralysis demon is a faceless killer in a blank mask with blood red eyes. When Anna receives an invitation from the American Sleep Institute's experimental clinic on Santa Cassilda island, she has no reason to suspect the terrors in store from her, or the forces intent upon awakening something terribly real from the darkness of her mysterious dreams.

Marlowe & Chambers are modern-day witch hunters who would easily be mistaken by society for serial killers if the careful tradecraft that keeps their dark work hidden ever falters. Are these Templars madmen, or is their grisly work kidnapping young women and burning them at the stake truly necessary to protect our world from demonic incursion? What will happen when their story finally collides with Anna's? Who will survive and what will be left of them?


Jack Chambers (53) is a United States Marine Corps chaplain and veteran of both the 1991 Gulf War and the 2003 Iraq War. A member of the Jesuit Order, or Society of Jesus, who are often called "God's Marines", making him a marine twice over. Chambers' deeper alliance belongs to the military order of the Catholic faith known as the Knights Templar, founded in 1119 and allegedly disbanded by Pope Clement V in 1312, although in reality, they merely went underground. 

Many decades ago, Chambers was inducted into a secret war against the forces of darkness, most importantly the Magna Mater Cult, a sinister occult conspiracy venerating an entity equivalent to the biblical Whore of Babylon from Revelations. The Great Mother cult has infiltrated both the Catholic church and the US intelligence community as part of their sinister plan to give birth to Hell on Earth using genetically and magickally engineered vessels known as "Midwives". 

It has fallen to Chambers and his order to mercilessly burn these witches, in God's name. Scarred and hardened by decades of veterancy in both traditional and spiritual warfare, Chambers is fully prepared to rise to this brutal task.

Anna Molly Grace (19) is an art student at Stanford University. Her life has been a saga of enduring tragedy. When Anna was eight years old, her birth mother was murdered by the eye-collecting serial killer known in the media as the Beholder. With her father having been out of the picture since Anna was too young to remember, Anna was orphaned, and later adopted by her foster parents. 

The trauma of witnessing this tragedy has left Anna with a long history of serious mental health problems, including an ongoing battle with dissociative identity disorder with severe memory gaps and schizotypal personality disorder. This means Anna struggles with discerning what is real and what is hallucination, and with paranoid delusions that make it extremely difficult for her to trust people or to form lasting relationships. 

While Anna believes her other psychiatric issues are under control, currently she is suffering most acutely from intense night terrors, including sleep paralysis. When she was invited to an experimental sleep study held by the American Sleep Institute at their clinic on Santa Casilda island, she jumped at the chance.

Dr. Everett Grossman (44) is Anna's "long-suffering" psychiatrist. He has been treating Anna with medication and therapy since shortly after her foster parents adopted her seven years ago. While Grossman is proud that Anna managed to get acceptance to Stanford's prestigious art program, he's long been concerned with her progress. Grossman worries about Anna's magical thinking and superstition, her rationalization of delusional and paranoid thinking, her persistent self-medication of her sleep disorders with dangerous amounts of alcohol and marijuana, and most troublingly, her non-compliance in consistently taking her prescribed antipsychotic medications. 

Grossman has taken time out of his day to be present at the American Sleep clinic on Santa Casilda, to oversee Anna's sleep trial and make sure everything goes smoothly according to plan. 

Christopher Marlowe (37) was a tough white kid who grew up poor on the mean streets of the primarily Afro-Caribean neighborhood of Brixton, South London. Valued for his ability to follow orders, and a talent for both doling out and surviving extreme violence that manifested very young, Marlowe was tightly mobbed up with the local Yardies as their token dirty white boy and muscle by the time he dropped out of high school. Before he turned 20, Marlowe was sent-up on racketeering and assault charges. He did his time and kept his mouth shut, and when he got out of the klink, he was rewarded by the organized crime bosses that he'd protected by being hooked up with a sketchy Private Military Corporation supporting various Western geopolitical interests in the Middle East, Africa, and broader Global South.

During the heavy fighting in the Second Battle of Fallujah, Marlowe was trapped behind enemy lines, wounded, pinned, and surrounded. That was when Jack Chambers saved Marlowe's life, and subsequently his soul. Marlowe cashed out of his PMC and returned to "the World" with a healthy pension and a new lease on life, converting to Catholicism. Years later, Chambers showed up at his door with a truly unbelievable story, and a favor to ask.

Since then, inducted into the secret Order of the Knights Templar, Marlowe has struggled with himself. Chambers' twisted and bizarre story of the underground Templar order and their secret war against the Mother Cult might not have swayed Marlowe if he hadn't owed Chambers his life and more. Clinging to his faith in God and his trust in Chambers, he has burned his share of witches, but doubts about killing what have every outward appearance of being innocent teenage girls are more than enough to keep Marlowe up at night.  

Mask (???) is Anna's personal sleep paralysis demon. At night, when she can't move, he squats above her on her bed, scalpel in hand, caressing her helpless frozen face, waxing lyrical about his sadistic intentions, most of all admiring the color of her eyes. Anna tells herself over and over and over that Mask is not real, that he's just a manifestation of suppressed trauma around her mother's slaying by the Beholder killer. 

And Mask tells her right back that he is the realest thing she's ever seen, the realest thing she'll ever see, and that he'll take the stars from her eyes. He's your nightmare and he's coming true.


murdered sleep is a psychological horror/survival horror adventure game with light RPG elements. You'll explore real world locations that unpredictably shift into the dark, twisted mirror of the nightmare world that is Backstage (liminal spaces that would be labeled 'The Backrooms' years after the release of the original Backstage), fending off terrifying warped monsters with improvised weapons and scavenged ammo, managing your Health and Nerve with limited resources, solve simple puzzles and struggle to discern what's real and what's delusion as a dark story of sinister occult forces unfolds.

  • Tense Real Time Combat. murdered sleep abandons the traditional turn-based combat one might expect from a typical RPG Maker game in favor of brutal and unforgiving real time ARPG combat. Defend yourself with sharp whatever sharp objects you find at hand, tasers, various firearms and a speargun. Increase your stats with better armor and sacred charms. Dodge enemy projectiles and sadistic traps by managing your limited Stamina Meter to quickly sprint. Be quick, and be careful, because Anna is fragile, and not just physically. 
  • Nerve System. In lieu of the traditional 'Sanity Meter' seen in Lovecraftian horror adventures like Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem and the Call of Cthulhu Tabletop RPGs that inspired them (because it's difficult for someone to go from 'perfectly sane' to having a laundry list of serious psychiatric disorders over the course of one bad night, but panic attacks can be triggered in a matter of seconds), manage your Nerve against terrifying threats. Run out of Nerve and you hallucinate wildly, whiff attacks, can't regenerate Stamina and take extra damage from all attacks until you manage to calm your rattled nerves and catch your breath.
  • Classic Resource Management. Like you'd expect from a classic Survival Horror experience, you must manage your Health and Nerve with useful healing items and making strategic use of limited first aid cabinets that fully heal you. Take ephedrine to restore your Health, but watch out for its effect on your Nerve. Smoking Cigarettes restores a little Nerve but is bad for your Health, or risk drinking booze to regenerate Nerve without damaging Health, but be ware that being drunk makes it hard to see or aim well.  
  • Liminal Horror Journey Through A Twisted Mirror World. As you explore, the world phases in and out of seemingly ordinary, mundane locations and the nightmarish mirror-world of Backstage, a twisted hellscape carpeted with rot, rust, and dried blood. What is real, what is nightmare, and what is both?
  • Dual Protagonists. In the tradition of classic Resident Evil cames. Play from the secondary perspective of Templar witch-hunter Chris Marlowe in Interlude episodes with a greater focus on action and dishing out violence using specialized tools for killing witches and their demon servants, like shotguns with rocksalt shells and a consecrated silver sword. 
  • Easy Mode. An Easy Mode has just been included for players who want to experience the dark and twisted psychological story while mitigating the potential frustration that comes with brutal real-time combat and resource management. Easy mode triples Anna's base Health and provides an infinitely reusable Sharp Object for self-defense.   
  • Deeply Immersive Soundtrack. Densely layered bespoke ambient soundscapes join forces with haunting, ominous, menacing and/or pulse-pounding music by DavidKBD, monoaudze, Scott Arc, Joel Steudler, and more, running the gamut from lo-fi drones to rich dark ambient to doom metal to darkwave.   
  • Multiple Endings. Earn one of six completely distinct endings depending on your choices and actions throughout the approximately eight-hour campaign: determine the fate and destinies of each major and supporting character as well as the Backstage universe itself, as you take into your own hands the age-old question of "who will survive and what will be left of them"?


~more ancient rpgmaker history~

Backstage: murdered sleep also adapts story and gameplay ideas and characters from the never-quite-completed  Backstage II  (last demo release circa 2011) and the  Backstage 3: Sinfonia proof of concept. It also integrates my take on the Cthulhu Mythos from my incomplete 2006 Lovecraftian horror RPG Eldritch where Marlowe and Chambers were first introduced...an RPG which apparently is hard to find, so PLEASE let me know if you know where I can find a copy of this game, because I made it and I do not have one.

Witness what happens when a solo dev takes almost twenty years to think about, tinker with and re-re-re-re-reimagine the sequel to an rm2k game he made in one month in his freshman year of college!

The oldest version of Backstage: murdered sleep is the murdered sleep Playable Teaser, the build released for Spooktober Jam 2021.

Updated 10 days ago
StatusIn development
PlatformsWindows
Rating
Rated 5.0 out of 5 stars
(3 total ratings)
AuthorLegion
GenreAdventure
Tags2D, Atmospheric, Dark, Horror, Lovecraftian Horror, Psychological Horror, RPG Maker, Surreal, Survival Horror

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If you are still looking for testers, let me know :)

(+1)

I noticed you were looking for testers on your Twitter?  I might be interested, although I gotta ask a little about the gore/jumpscare factor.  I don't mind bloody smears and corpses along with some sudden spooks, though I've got my limits.

(1 edit)

Thanks for reaching out!

Well, I was aiming for maximum scary. The gore is taken to the furthest extreme possible WITHIN the pixel art style and scale the game is using. Like, this image is as bad as it gets, probably:


(Ordinarily I'd have spoilered this behind a TW but I don't think itch has spoiler tags.)

There aren't, for instance, scare screens where you see the same thing but in a more realistic style/at a much higher zoom and resolution.

I think jump scares are used in relative moderation. There are definitely a few in there, but it's not the main way I was looking to scare players, I was more focused on creating a holistically disturbing atmosphere and narrative. All of this is REALLY subjective though, and I do know I'm a bit of a gorehound into some pretty extreme stuff myself.

I'd say check out the Playable Teaser and if you can handle that, I'd say there's nothing *much* worse in the full game as it exists at this point.

Alright, I gave the teaser a shot.  As far as the gore goes, what I've seen so far hasn't really bothered me, and the story was compelling enough to get me to wanna play more.  Unfortunately I think I triggered a bug that prevents the elevator from going back down into B2:

I rode it back up to B1 after picking up a key to the right of B2 and getting chased by skeletons(?) because I wanted to save and not repeat the riddle scene after every death.  But when I tried to go back down the elevator seems to get stuck in a loop where it appears to constantly descend, and when I try to leave it just puts me back into B1.

That elevator has been a perennial hive of bugs. Pretty sure I've fixed that particular one in the seven months since the teaser came out. IIRC there's a save point right in the next hall if you head  "South" (down) and then "East" (right).

 i stuck in crawling vent it's really dark i can't see anything

did you make sure your flashlight is on through the inventory? If it's on, I recommend you increase your screen's brightness. Lastly, not sure if this will help, but this is the route you need to take to get out of the vents 

(+2)

noic
good game, 10/10