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Why is Lethal Company So Funny But Also Completely Terrifying?

How can Lethal Company be so funny? But also so scary? An intriguing answer follows which will be discussed here.

Credit: Zeekerss

No other recent multiplayer game I can think of has a simpler premise than Lethal Company, and yet, as evidenced by the social media storm that the game has caused, can birth a seemingly endless amount of scenarios that are equal parts funny and tense.

How did this single-developer game capture the eyes of so many? Is it just novelty?

I think it goes slightly deeper than that.

Everything is funnier with friends

The first and most obvious factor is the multiplayer. With friends, the atmosphere of the game is continuously broken up by joke cracking or similar sorts of comments to lighten the mood. This makes the game more fun, certainly, but it also makes the surprise of when the monsters show up more comical than scary. That is, as long as you are together.

How the multiplayer assists with the tense part of the game is when you and your friends get separated. The proximity chat prevents communication over long distances, and there are many chaotic events that can separate the group. At this point, the game gets eerily quiet. Maybe you hear the hum of a fan or boiler but no voices. Until, an inhuman roar breaks the silence, followed quickly by your death.

And just like that, the game goes back to being funny as you observe your friends in the spectator mode running panicked through the hallways. Those quick transitions between moods are what make the game such a unique experience.

Honestly, the entire game changes without the multiplayer aspect. As a single-player experience, it becomes more of a surreal horror game with a much heavier atmosphere. And while that is interesting, the multiplayer experience remains unmatched.

Credit: Zeekerss

Humor by Design

Of course, the humor doesn’t only originate from interactions with friends. The game is deliberately funny as well. The in-game company fast-forwards through their safety protocol broadcast, most likely mimicking the mindset of the player. The running animation for the player character is high-kneed and bouncy, like a cartoon. This makes chase sequences just that much more entertaining. As well, the monsters you encounter are a strange mishmash of funny and scary, such as the infamous Jack-in-the-Box.

This fact, I think in many ways, encourages the player to experience this cycle of laughter and shock; the entire atmosphere of the game is catered to it.

Survival Horror Beats

A final note on exclusively the scary aspect of the game is the inspiration the game took from the Survival Horror genre.

There are aspects of resource management with the money you make from selling scrap, as well as battery-powered tools, like flashlights. The thought that your flashlight could go out at any moment will no doubt leave you with dread. A classic game design trick to get the player to feel scared.

There are constant constraints on your vision, be it fog, rain, or darkness. This will trigger a fear of the unknown in most people by making it seem like there could be something there just beyond their field of vision. The trick is to never reveal for certain if something is there or not, which leads to the last point.

Credit: Zeekerss

The game is inherently random. Loot spots are random. Monster locations are random. And the environmental effects are random. By harnessing this randomness, particularly the random monster locations, it will leave the player in a state of suspension between danger and no danger. No place feels safe because no place is safe. And that’s why the game remains tense, even when your friends are nearby; there’s no telling when things will go awry.

Don’t Miss It

Lethal Company is a spectacular experience that deserves your attention. While larger companies always seem to be chasing an elusive market that often leaves them in hot water, indie developers are crafting compact experiences that ironically lead to longer hours of enjoyment. The game is currently in early access on Steam, so more content is planned. It’s also very cheap, currently sitting at 10 US dollars full price.

What’s not to like? I suppose if you were completely averse to horror media then maybe this wouldn’t be for you, but then again, why would you seek out this article if you didn’t find it at least a little intriguing?

Now, off to Titan with you. The Company hungers for your quota.

Written By

Amateur futurist. Lover of horror, sci-fi, and all media which involves them. Currently studying English at UNM. In my free time I am indulging in nerdy hobbies like video games, tabletop games, and the usual reading and writing.

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