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Korsakovia, a new mod from the makers of Dear Esther has been released. Billed as an experimental survival horror, this single player Source mod from thechineseroom aims to fuse the abstract storytelling of Dear Esther with more traditional gameplay.

Posted by chineseroom on Sep 19th, 2009

Korsakovia is a new experimental mod by the makers of Dear Esther. It's a survival horror about delusion, paranoia and the end of the world.

Resolution Magazine said they've "Never played a game that fucked with me so much" and that "It’s rare for a game to instil such panic. It’s up there with ‘Shock 2 and Silent Hill in that respect".

Korsakovia launches in 4 days Korsakovia launches in 4 days
Korsakovia launches in 4 days Korsakovia (August)

Hide the matches, break the TV screen, gouge out your eyes, turn out the lights and play it on your own late at night.

Post comment Comments
chris_sloany Sep 19 2009 says:

downloading now!!

+2 votes     reply to comment
freredarme Sep 20 2009 says:

Strange mod

+2 votes     reply to comment
Cirdain Sep 20 2009 says:


+1 vote     reply to comment
SinKing Sep 20 2009 says:

I unpacked it into sourcemods, but it won't show in my list (not even after restarting). It's right next to Dear Esther and I know this is the right folder.
Any ideas?

+2 votes     reply to comment
Varsity Sep 20 2009 replied:

It requires Episode Two.

+4 votes     reply to comment
ZiZaNie Sep 20 2009 replied:

Hopefully, I have it!

+2 votes     reply to comment
mastersrp Sep 20 2009 says:

I think i'm going to be mindfucked. I'm not into this, but this mod REALLY seems to do the trick! o.O

+2 votes     reply to comment
Cirdain Sep 20 2009 replied:

On the mindfuck-o-meter
Korsakovia Mod is on

(n/a) MindFuck/minute

It ***** your mind so much it can't be measured on the mindfuck-o-meter.

+4 votes     reply to comment
Muffinssi Sep 20 2009 says:

Unique mod, got some weird stuff in it. Maps feels sometimes less detailed and too spacious but overall is pretty good.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Ekonk Sep 20 2009 says:

Yes! Finally!

+2 votes     reply to comment
ZiZaNie Sep 20 2009 says:

It looks... original... and SPOOKEH!

+2 votes     reply to comment
Spooboy Sep 20 2009 says:

Haha do you guys at the chineseroom do mushrooms? Your mods are crazy, good, but crazy. This one looks really trippy, I'm downloading now!

+3 votes     reply to comment
medve Sep 20 2009 says:

this would be the mod of the year, but unfortunately have been made out of basic hl2 elements. u guys have to make your own models. but still 10/10.

+2 votes     reply to comment
Rukus_ Sep 21 2009 says:

They should have removed the crosshair and done something with the hud, it would make the game much more immersible.

+2 votes     reply to comment
jamespizzurro Sep 21 2009 says:

Excellent mod. Really, one of the creepiest ones I've played in a long, long time. Congrats to all involved with this project, and thanks! =D

+2 votes     reply to comment
axeto Sep 22 2009 says:

I couldn't play much longer than 15 minutes, the eyestraining flickering and high pitched loud noises simply hurt too much, a huge flaw considering this is supposed to be the atmosphere. It's not creepy or unnerving it's downright annoying. The cloud of dust enemies or whatever they are are one of the most unsatisfying opponents, am I supposed to fight them? Do i lock them out the door? If I got up close it'd just annoy the hell out of me and I still don't know if I killed it or it just goes away after hitting me X times.
I didn't get past the warehouse bit before quitting, but long before that I already got the point that the guy ripped his eyes out or was f** with them some other way it got really predictable after a few times. The mapping is obviously poor, and I don't blame anyone for beeing new at it, hell I suck at it myself.But still I feel that none of the rooms had much thought put into them, any atmosphere the game had came from the audio ( wich besides the earrape was pretty good).The over use of characteristic city 17 apartment furniture models broke any kind of suspense and just made me think 'oh i'm playing a mod wich team didn't have a modeler, thats ok it's not like i pay for it'.Some rooms felt empty whilst others cramped with far too many props.

Normally I finish games before even thinking of giving critisism but the experience literally hurt my eyes and ears :/

+4 votes     reply to comment
SinKing Sep 24 2009 says:

I wonder what it matters what kind of models you use. On the screenshots and trailer it seems quite unique and fitting in the way this is put together. I was a huge fan of Dear Esther, while a friend found it annoying and only remarked that you can bunny hop.
Audio can be poorly mixed, if you listen to only one channel (I found that out while playing Dear Esther in Mono). I'd personally love to play this mod, but I don't have anything EP2 related.

+3 votes     reply to comment
razorb Sep 26 2009 says:

damn.. what a shame.. such lovely narration... really enjoyed that part of things.. but the map design let it down soooooo much i was frustrated big time... i think you guys need to give the design of the maps another pass as soon as possible to be honest! not knowing where the hell to go and just guessing the majority of the time... but yea ... good job releasing it and ur narration is stronger than most AAA games ive ever played, so great work with that!

+3 votes     reply to comment
Selentic Sep 26 2009 says:

The music and storyline were great, the level design really wasn't so hot though. I spent about 2 hours in the first level trying to figure out where to go, and another 2 in the second level, before eventually giving up and noclipping most of my way through the rest.

Blinding white lights, on 3D Mario platforming gone wrong has to be one of the worst ideas I've ever seen enacted, and the static and screeching enemies made it damn near impossible to hear what was being said half the time.

PS : Did you just give up after the 3rd level? My FPS was in the single digits when it should have been in the three hundreds.

+3 votes     reply to comment
LordLicorice Sep 29 2009 says:

I signed up for a Mod DB account just so I could comment on this game, and provide the following warning: IF YOU ARE EPILEPTIC, BE STRONGLY ADVISED. THIS IS NOT A JOKE.

Once again, the storytelling and voice acting is absolutely top-notch... the only problem is that the level design just doesn't match up with the high bar it sets almost immediately. The overuse of stock HL2 art resources, from monitors to Dr. Breen's smiling face, really take a chunk out of the immersion. The fact your arm looks like a rainslicked glowing ham is also rather out-of-sorts; why did not just use Gordon's stock arm at that point? The monsters have a striking impact at the beginning, but quickly devolve into a mere annoyance. There are also pacing issues, overuse of cliches (blocked halls with piles of debris), etc. etc. etc. ...

... and the level design. Ye gods the level design. Whose bright idea was it to make the final level one long jumping puzzle, force the camera to shake at random, throw invisible enemies at the player, and - last but not least - cause the screen to flash bright white at random intervals, some as long as 3 seconds, just to make players miss their jumps? I became highly motion sick on this final area and I'm honestly worried that an epileptic might run the risk of a seizure playing this game.

My advice: Just remove the art assets that are clearly HL2-related (i.e. Dr. Breen); remove the flashing lights entirely; reduce the shaking; fix or remove the jumping puzzles; and just generally get some beta test feedback on the mod. I know you're still working on Dear Esther on and off, so please fix this game. It has such lovely potential and starts off on such a strong note, but by the end of the game I was cursing your names (I Livestreamed the playthrough so I have at least eight people that can vouch for me!).

+4 votes     reply to comment
Dunkelschwamm Oct 2 2009 says:

This is usually exactly the type of mod I look for: interesting story, unique gameplay, and ability to mindfuck me from a mile away. But I have to agree with some of the other guys posting, the game is practically painful to play. It could be cleverly asserted that it was painful to make the game, and one says that for something to truly be art then it must make the viewer feel like the artist, but I think that that has more to do with emotional pain. This was literal, physical pain caused by the high-pitched background noises or the flashing lights and bizarre lighting and spinning cameras. I think that if I played it for too long at once it may have actually been detrimental to my vision and hearing.

I understand that you're trying for something new, but it seems like you're just trying too hard to get something completely new and philosophically baffling. It's resulting in an awkward, unstable game that really only keeps me questioning myself, "Why am I still playing this?" The narrations and voice acting work were beautiful, but I think that's really all I can take with me from this mod. I almost feel like this would have done better as a book than a mod, as the interactive element was frustrating and too hard to swallow.

I probably sound completely negative, but keep it up. The more you make the more you'll be able to get down to a more refined or, dare I say, perfect mod. I'll continue to watch your progress and see what other mods you come out with.

+3 votes     reply to comment
chineseroom Author
chineseroom Oct 6 2009 replied:

I think it's probably best to say that Korsakovia was something of an exercise in seeing just how far you can push things. Which means, without doubt, that in some cases and places, the answer to that is going to be 'too far'. But we've got a good idea where that line is now... Also, the core idea was to really push out as far as we could into this idea of trying to do a creative intepretation of a really messed up mental illness, and that *had* to be extreme and uncomfortable. But it's done now, rest assured :)

It's also been very useful for us to play around with more game-design issues and experiments, so we're now in a position to regroup the skills and knowledge we've got from both Dear Esther and Korsakovia and look to optimise the experience of both. But, I take yr points, but also need to say that the 'pain' of playing Korsakovia is somewhere in the region on 70% deliberate and I don't know if it would work at all if it were 'easier' on the eye, ear, mind or expectation. That's what makes it interesting to me as a designer, I guess...

+2 votes   reply to comment
Newbez Oct 11 2009 says:

this game had better scare the **** out of me :)

+2 votes     reply to comment
Jaez Nov 4 2009 says:


I had to stop playing several times because it was giving me a headache. For the first hour or so I was suffering, but intrigued. I can't believe I got through the tenants section with all the small rooms and doors before I put it down for the night.

I picked it up again almost a month later because I liked Dear Esther so much, and I guess I was hoping for some sort of progression of the plot. I got as far as the second encounter with the spinning torture machine you need to climb to the top of to smash the TV. I remember thinking that what the developer is telling me here is: 'F..k You gamer.. Remember that annoying staircase to vomitville you hated so much? I am both lazy and a horrible person, so here you go, do it again!'

I watched the rest of the game on youtube, which was also unpleasant and unrewarding.

The atmosphere was admittedly scary before it got repetitive and I quickly understood that inducing nausea was probably the point. But I had some problems with it.

I'm gonna presume the only audience that would ever find or try to play or get anywhere in this inaccessible pile are hardcore fpsers. So my interpretation is that one of the main points was to toy with our specific expectations of game design. I kept looking for some parallels with this idea and the plot, but it seemed to just repeat the same things over and over, not really inspiring any new thoughts or making me look at the game any differently. I can really tell that you scratched the script out in a day, because there really isn't anything there to support a game this long and it does not seem to have any non-superficial connection with what is going on in the levels.

I'm afraid it is only the fact that I'm stubborn and expected so much more that I bothered playing this.

+2 votes     reply to comment
Jaez Nov 4 2009 says:

I can't sympathize with purposefully making a game that is intended to be nauseating, frustrating and unrewarding, just because it plays on my expectations of what a game should be.

Struggle through this metaphor:
Consider Dear Esther as a rare tropical fruit whose taste is strange and challenging, but widens my fruit horizons and does what a fruit is supposed to do - feed me. Korsakovia is from the same fruit dealer but tastes like rotten eggs and makes me sick, which is what the dealer wants because, as it turns out, he's a ****.

Don't waste your time playing this game. It isn't fun or rewarding and the plot goes nowhere. Download the soundtrack and read the script if you are curious.

+2 votes     reply to comment
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