Skip to main content

Life Eater is an unnerving horror game about ritualistic sacrifice

Key art for Life Eater.
Frosty Pop

In 2023, Strange Scaffold released El Paso, Elsewhere, a horror-tinged throwback to the likes of Max Payne that also told a deeply personal and unsettling story about a toxic relationship. Its next game, Life Eater, puts players in the shoes of a serial killer seeking out new targets to kill and sacrifice to a god he’s starting to question the existence of. This isn’t a Manhunt- or Hitman-style stalk-and-kill game; it offers a feeling of detachment by having players parse through timelines to learn everything they need to abduct and properly sacrifice a target.

Life Eater is a brisk, yet unnerving experience. Even if it doesn’t quite reach the heights of El Paso, Elsewhere, it affirms that Strange Scaffold is one of the best studios working in the horror gaming space right now.

Life Eater - ANNOUNCEMENT TRAILER

Life Eater follows a man who emerges once a year to sacrifice innocent people to a god called Zimforth. He does this by scouring the weekly schedules of several people to uncover information that affirms that a potential target falls within the parameters Zimforth set forth. Each piece of information uncovered on a timeline comes at the cost of time and a bit of notoriety, so the challenge of Life Eater is ensuring that you gather all the correct information without getting caught and within a time limit.

It doesn’t stop there, though, as Life Eater checks if the player was paying attention during the actual sacrificial process. The sacrifice requires the removal of certain body parts depending on the person’s schedule. For example, you might have to remove someone’s pancreas if they have a commute or their large intestine if they don’t. Mess this up, and Zimforth won’t accept the sacrifice, so you’ll have to restart the search from square one.

The sacrifice menu in Life Eater.
Frosty Pop

The timeline=parsing gameplay and memorization that Life Eater demands aren’t nearly as entertaining as El Paso, Elsewhere‘s slick shooting, but this minimalist gameplay cleverly reinforces the narrative themes. To gain enough information to find a target to abduct and properly sacrifice them, the main character has to get intimately familiar with these people’s lives without actually forging a real connection with them.

He learns about family members caring for a dying parent, a drummer joining a band where the other two members are in a relationship, or a waste management worker who has to work two jobs to make ends meet. Yet the killer doesn’t form any actual relationships with these people; the minutiae of their lives are simply facts obtained to make an informed decision. This makes the brief conversations between kills with Johnny, a prisoner held for almost a decade by the killer, even more unnerving.

It’s clear that this killer is desperate for connection, yet his “work” is preventing him from doing so. The best horror stories are personal, and I’m sure most of the people who play Life Eater have felt desperate for connection or overwhelmed by their job responsibilities. By tapping into those feelings, Life Eater is a scary game despite most of its playtime being speny staring at woefully plain timelines. Strange Scaffold’s Xalavier Nelson Jr. is a master at crafting enthralling interpersonal dram,a and he once again flaunts that storytelling skill here. As such, fans of very personal-feeling horror need to check out Life Eater — and whatever Strange Scaffold does next.

Timeline gameplay from Life Eater.
Frosty Pop

While its next game is a revenge thriller called I Am Your Beast, Strange Scaffold isn’t done in the horror gaming space yet. When announcing Life Eater with publisher Frosty Pop, the studio confirmed it is also working on an “after-hours library horror game.” Hopefully, that game — as well as the other non-horror titles Strange Scaffold is working on — retains the same deeply personal narrative tinge that made El Paso, Elsewhere and Life Eater memorable.

Life Eater is available now on PC.

Editors' Recommendations

Topics
Tomas Franzese
Tomas Franzese is a Staff Writer at Digital Trends, where he reports on and reviews the latest releases and exciting…
Best Lego deals: Save on Star Wars, Marvel, Technic and more
legos new space shuttle set includes hubble telescope model lego discovery

If you're trying to get away from your screen, such as by reading a book or playing board games, one great alternative is to build Lego. One of the most popular brands on the planet with millions upon millions of new bricks made every year, there is seemingly a Lego set for pretty much anything. Whether you love the Marvel universe and want to build the Infinity Gauntlet or are really into cars and want to build a Lamborghini, there's very likely a set out there for you. To that end, we've gone out and collected some of our favorite Lego deals across various categories, although if you don't find what you're looking for, you could check out some of these great board game deals as well.

Today's Best Lego Marvel Deals

Read more
VR headset deals: Meta Quest 2 and VIVE XR
htc vive vs pro headphones

VR tech is pretty interesting, and while it's not as big as other forms of gaming, it's grown quite significantly since the original Oculus Go was released. In fact, there are some highly acclaimed modern VR games like Half-Life: Alyx that are a lot of fun, and with something like the Meta Quest, you don't even need a high-end gaming PC to run it. Luckily, even if you've spent money on one of many gaming PC deals out there, you can still buy a high-end VR headset that can use all that power. To that end, we've collected deals on some of the best VR headsets on the market, although if you're not quite ready to take that plunge, check out some of these other great video game deals.
Meta Quest 2 -- $199, was $200

Even though the Meta Quest 3 came out quite recently, the Meta Quest 2 is still a pretty powerful contender, especially since it has a wider library and app support than the Quest 3 currently has. Even more so, the Quest 2 is a lot cheaper than the Quest 3, and with the latest permanent discount down to just $200, that's a whole $300 or so difference from the Quest 3. Of course, the Quest 3 does have more advanced AR and slightly better performance with software and Wi-Fi, but that may not be worth the extra cost for some. Either way, be sure to check out the breakdown between Quest 2 and Quest 3 to get a better sense of what you should pick up.

Read more
Hellblade 2 struggles to balance a serious message and video game tropes
Senua stares at a burning tree in Hellblade 2.

For the first two hours of Senua's Saga: Hellblade 2, I was fully transported into Senua's headspace. Every aspect of the sequel's design was working in concert to pull me into her mind and never let me go. And then I found my first collectible.

I missed out on the first Hellblade, but was familiar enough to know what the general consensus was regarding its strengths and weaknesses. I knew it was a narrative-driven game about a very serious mental health condition. What I never heard about, and thus didn't know to expect until I came across it, was something as "gamey" as collectibles. In most games, collectibles can be a way to reward exploration, add lore to the world, or simply be an added objective for those who want to do and see it all. In the case of Hellblade 2, however, it's one small piece of a larger issue: The series' video game instincts betraying the serious tone and subject matter that the rest of the subversive experience is so committed to.
Wall hugging
At first, Hellblade 2 gripped me like few games have. You already know just how impressive this game is from a visual standpoint from trailers and screenshots, but it's the 3D audio that pushes it into a league of its own. That first scene of Senua nearly drowning in the ocean while competing voices attempt to encourage and demoralize her instantly established an empathetic link between us. The tight perspective of the camera, the framing of Senua and her detailed facial animations, and the lack of a head-up display (HUD) all made sure that link remained unbroken.

Read more