Ad Infinitum aims to scare you with psychological horror based on the First World War

New studio Hekate hopes to create a modern horror game that blurs the reality between a haunted mansion and the trenches of WWI.


The first-person psychological thriller Ad Infinitum, set in the trenches of World War I as well as a terrifying mansion with confusing corridors, started off nearly a decade ago as a student project in 2014. This concept gained some traction, but it wasn’t until 2019 that the developers founded the Berlin studio Hekate, with a small team of about ten to fifteen members, to complete the vision of the game they originally had. I had the opportunity to play the first few chapters of Ad Infinitum at the Nacon Bigben Week event in San Francisco, and in less than ten minutes, I was thoroughly spooked.

Postwar stressors

Ad Infinitum Preview
The cost of war on the mind will be explored in the game.

Source: Hekate

This game features a German soldier who has to survive the horrors and trauma of the Great War in several ways. The story, which will last somewhere between six and seven hours, flickers between his memories at the front and exploration of his family home. The first two chapters start off intentionally slow, with a character waking up as a Morse code operator who didn’t really want to fight in the trenches. Dragging himself through the mud and the narrow, twisting pathways, he could hear whispers of his fellow soldiers shouting and dying in the background. One wooden sign with the words “Suicide Steps” points toward his doom.

Then shifting back to the mansion, this claustrophobic feeling persists. The hallways that are supposed to be familiar and heartwarming are foreboding instead. The floorboards creak, the light fixtures against the wall blink in and out, and strange spirits seem to haunt every passage Reading the letters and notes scattered about the mansion, I learned that the main character has an older brother who died in the war and that his parents expected that both their sons were lost. It’s uncertain how the protagonist returns home (perhaps he’s actually dead?), but the mother remains unconvinced that the character is who he says he is. She’s not entirely wrong, though. The war has changed something in him, and the game’s monsters and environments explore the trauma of being put through such a harrowing experience.

A war of nerves

Ad Infinitum Trenches
Dark, claustrophobic trenches is perfect for horror.

SOURCE: Hekate

In one of the chapters titled “Despair,” the protagonist has to complete a seance by a spiritualist that the character’s mother has been seeing, despite her husband’s protests. Hearing a knock at the door, he wanders over to find a wax cylinder for a gramophone that provides instructions on how to set up the ritual on a table flanked by empty wooden chairs, except for one that has a humanlike dummy sitting in it. That was creepy enough, but then he has to find five red wax candles spread throughout the mansion, several matches, and a red ball representing the spirit of his older brother who passed away. The summoning ritual goes wrong of course, and the scene returns to the trenches.

The trooper wakes up to find that new monsters have appeared. He learns that the German side had destroyed a church full of innocents, though the commanders say otherwise. Scampering through the rubble of a town razed to the ground, he soon finds monsters feeding on human flesh and very sensitive to sound. (I believe they symbolize hunger and cannibalism, but that's just my interpretation.) To move past them, he has to crouch down and creep around dangling alarms made out of tin cans, and occasionally turn on sirens to lure the monsters over in order to clear a path. One time, he was almost too late in his escape and had to fight off one of the monsters who had latched onto his arm.

Horror of horrors

The soldier then finds some solace in the ruins of a church, but that sense of safety makes a hard turn. He falls into a pit where a large, demonic beast with twisted pink flesh and missing guts wails at him with a deathly scream. The developers told me that this enemy is just one of several Greater Horrors in the game that players will need to evade and there are times when they will have to enter some sort of trauma domain where these Horrors live. Either way, he’s able to escape with his life as the hunger monsters and the Greater Horror surprisingly attack each other. But that may just be delaying the inevitable, and he’ll have to face it again before the six-hour adventure is finished.

Hopefully, Ad Infinitum will set itself apart enough from Amnesia: The Bunker, another horror game set in World War I, and it looks like it will from what I’ve played. The game will release on September 14, 2023 for PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC via Steam and Epic Games Store. No final price has been determined yet, but it should be less than the usual $60 price tag.

This preview is based on a beta demo of the game as shown by the publisher at a closed event.

Contributing Editor

Once upon a time, Nick's parents confiscated his Super Nintendo because he was "playing it too much." He has secretly sworn revenge ever since. Nick is now a freelance writer for various video game sites. Powered by iced green tea, he typically plays RPGs of all kinds like Shin Megami Tensei, Elder Scrolls, and Fallout. In his spare time, he follows the latest season of Critical Role.

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