I never expected this major force in horror movies to make games, but I'm sold after playing its first upcoming title

Image of various Blumhouse Games projects.
Yeah, that seems fine. (Image credit: Blumhouse Games)

We've known since 2023 that Blumhouse, the legendary horror movie production company behind franchises like Paranormal Activity, Insidious, and The Conjuring, had established a video games subsidiary. To be honest, I didn't have high hopes for a movie-focused company dabbling in video game development, but I was pleasantly surprised when Blumhouse Games officially introduced itself during Summer Game Fest 2024.

That's because, despite the stated intentions at the branch's creation, some were rightfully concerned that Blumhouse Games would be overly ambitious and obviously inexperienced like many industry newcomers, or that it'd churn out uninteresting video game adaptations of Blumhouse's established horror franchises. Instead, Blumhouse Games announced six in-progress projects — and they're all the result of Blumhouse discovering, investing in, and nurturing creative indie developers.

The first of which is Fear the Spotlight, a third-person horror-adventure game coming later this year. I actually had a chance to experience the game's intro during Summer Game Fest Play Days, and I'm ecstatic for what this could mean for the future of indie horror games.

What is Blumhouse Games?

Blumhouse Games Summer Game Fest 2024 Reveal - The Horror Starts Here - YouTube Blumhouse Games Summer Game Fest 2024 Reveal - The Horror Starts Here - YouTube
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Blumhouse Games is a horror games publisher under the Blumhouse brand. If you don't recognize the Blumhouse name, you're almost certainly familiar with the Blumhouse logo that appears during the intro to many beloved horror movies. Blumhouse has been a force to be reckoned with in the horror movie industry since its inception in 2000, and now it's crossing mediums to video games (as opposed to video games crossing over to movies, as in the case of Blumhouse's Five Nights at Freddy's adaptation).

Blumhouse Games doesn't boast an internal studio and isn't acquiring developer talent, either. Instead, Blumhouse Games searches for unique independent developers around the world and works with them to bring creative, accessible horror games to Windows PC, console, and even mobile devices. Blumhouse Games isn't sticking to any one horror genre, either — the few upcoming projects we've seen from the publisher are diverse and distinct.

Right now, Blumhouse Games has confirmed six projects in the works, each from a different team and with a different premise. First-person horror-adventures, surprisingly spooky life sim games, love letters to 90s teen horror movies, and much more are coming out of the publisher. Fear the Spotlight is the first game, expected to release sometime in 2024 for basically every major gaming platform.

Fear the Spotlight, the first from Blumhouse

Fear the Spotlight - Reveal Trailer | Summer Game Fest 2024 - YouTube Fear the Spotlight - Reveal Trailer | Summer Game Fest 2024 - YouTube
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One of the last things I did while in Los Angeles was head back to the Summer Game Fest Play Days venue to play the first title from Blumhouse Games. Situated in a smaller side room draped in undulating lights and soft shadows, the Fear the Spotlight booth awaited me. The Blumhouse Games representatives wasted no time getting me settled in for my scheduled appointment, and in moments I was playing through the first 30 minutes of this intriguing indie horror game.

Fear the Spotlight is largely a third-person horror-adventure game, but has heavy puzzle and light action elements to make players think outside the box and keep them on their toes. Atmospherically, it's an homage to the classic teen horror movies of the 1990s, and visually it's a throwback to classic video games with its low-polygon models, purposefully fuzzy textures, and unsettling animations. Fear the Spotlight does an excellent job from the get-go laying the foundation for its story and setting.

You play as Vivian, sneaking into Sunnyside High (your school) with your rebellious friend Amy. The plan is to break into the library to perform a seance, which began as a harmless prank by bored teenagers. However, something goes awry, and Vivian is suddenly left alone in the school — mostly. A terrifying monster also roams these halls, and Vivian must stay hidden, search for her missing friend, and attempt to discover the horrifying secrets hidden within the school.

You'll have to solve puzzles to survive this nightmare. (Image credit: Blumhouse Games)

Blumhouse Games suggests that Fear the Spotlight is a perfect introduction for those new to the horror genre, and I agree. The controls are easy to grasp, and the game does an excellent job easing players into its universe and introducing its horror elements. The stakes for failure are low but no less terrifying, and the catalog of frightening chases, tense stealth, creepy exploration, and challenging puzzles promises to keep the game interesting.

Developer Cozy Game Pals (as if this is a cozy game) also intentionally avoids a barrage of cheap jump scares, instead relying on the atmosphere of Fear the Spotlight to spook players. After finishing the intro, I walked away far more confident in Blumhouse Games' approach to video games, as Fear the Spotlight feels interesting, approachable, fun, and — most importantly — scary.

Of course, all I managed to do was escape the library. Who knows what else waits in store for me when Fear the Spotlight releases later in 2024. True to Blumhouse Games' word, Fear the Spotlight is also aiming for a true multiplatform launch, coming simultaneously to Xbox, Windows PC, PlayStation, and Switch. I feel a new generation of widely available, accessible indie horror games on the horizon, and I can't wait.

So much potential for awesome horror games

I have a feeling I don't want to be seen by this thing. (Image credit: Blumhouse Games)

To be honest, Fear the Spotlight on its own wouldn't be the most exciting. Yes, I very much enjoyed playing the first 30 minutes, but just the demo of one indie horror game amongst everything else that was shown off at Summer Game Fest and the Xbox Games Showcase hardly stands out. However, Blumhouse Games actually showed off six upcoming horror projects during SGF, further highlighting the new publisher's approach.

Fear the Spotlight is the first we'll see from Blumhouse Games, but the publisher has also partnered with five other indie developers all over the world on a diverse collection of horror games, and each one stood out to me in their own way as potential additions to our list of the best Xbox games.

Crisol: Theater of Idols especially seems to have attracted attention, being a first-person horror-adventure that mashes folklore, religion, and porcelain dolls together in a terrifying, desperate battle to survive. That's coming from Vermila Studios, and will force players to consume their own blood in order to battle the twisted statues come-to-life stalking them.

We also saw Grave Seasons, a twist on the popular farming/life sim genre that injects murder mystery into the typical cycle of relationship building and crop harvesting. It's a race against the clock to stop a serial killer and hopefully save your friends. SLEEP AWAKE is a more action-packed first-person psychedelic horror from one of the creators of Spec Ops: The Line (Cory Davis, now part of EYES OUT). Humanity, huddled together in the last safe haven on earth, is now rapidly disappearing in their sleep, and you're the only one who can uncover what's happening.

The Simulation is a fascinating twist on the horror genre in which a horror game (inside the game, which I always love) is the only evidence found at a horrific crime scene. As a game designer, you discover the secrets contained with the horror game and are thrust into a spiraling journey through connected games. Discovering the truths behind these games will require ingenuity and unwilling fortitude.

Perhaps the most exciting reveal from the Blumhouse Games debut, however, is Project C. Of course, we know next to nothing about this game, except that it comes from the horror masterminds of Sam Barlow and Brandon Cronenberg. I'm especially excited to see what Barlow is working on now, following the absolute masterpiece that is IMMORTALITY. Blumhouse promises it's the most twisted vision from Half Mermaid Productions yet, and I can't wait to play.

This is just the beginning, too — finding the independent horror devs with the unique visions the genre needs and providing them with the resources and funding to reach as many players as possible is the best case scenario for a new horror publisher, and words cannot express how excited I am. This could usher in a new generation of horror games.

Zachary Boddy
Staff Writer

Zachary Boddy (They / Them) is a Staff Writer for Windows Central, primarily focused on covering the latest news in tech and gaming, the best Xbox and PC games, and the most interesting Windows and Xbox hardware. They have been gaming and writing for most of their life starting with the original Xbox, and started out as a freelancer for Windows Central and its sister sites in 2019. Now a full-fledged Staff Writer, Zachary has expanded from only writing about all things Minecraft to covering practically everything on which Windows Central is an expert, especially when it comes to Microsoft. You can find Zachary on Twitter @BoddyZachary.