In the black and sugar-coated spirit of Halloween*, a game idea:
What I’m proposing is a kind of occult Swat 4. Let’s call it Huntsman. Each level is you arriving on the scene of a monster sighting- vampires at the hospital, werewolves at a wedding, banshees in a bank, etc. By the time you get there the locale has been sealed off by the authorities with a mass of civilians still inside, and you (and your team?) are sent in to hunt down the disguised creatures and kill them.
Same as Swat 4, finishing the mission in Huntsman is only half the fight. The real game is in choking down all that foggy tension and the immersive, restricting first-person perspective and carrying out your mission with minimum of bloodshed.
But in Swat 4 you’re always struggling to fit shoes that’d be better occupied by some unblinking automaton. The ideal Swat agent would be a robot programmed by the book, a machine capable of carrying out the specific tactical procedure for any situation with laser-guided accuracy and animal reflexes. I’m envisioning something more emotion-driven.
First of all, the monsters are disguised as the regular people. While Swat 4’s core was in breaching and subduing of individual rooms in a haze of tear gas, Huntsman would be about walking into a room that could explode into violence at any moment and calmly sniffing it out. That could be as simple as approaching each civilian, one by one, and spraying them with essence of garlic, or it could be as difficult as watching their body language and asking them questions.
Maybe the room’s clean, and you tell everybody to stay right where they are before moving deeper into the building. Or maybe as you’re working the crowd the monster panics, drops its disguise and lunges at you while your back is turned. Or maybe you decide the four people in the room are civilians, leave, then go running back at the sound of screaming and find the room empty but for three bloodied corpses.
The second feature of Huntsman for players to consider and master is that of panic. As long as the situation remains calm the civilians will cooperate and your steely hunter can go about his business methodically. But the moment civilians start panicking a level will get exponentially harder. In a mad crowd the monsters can move about at will, the screams of victims will mingle with screams of terror and you’ll have to keep ice cool when civilians start running at you (maybe they want to ask you something, maybe they want to wrestle your weapon off you). The movement of any civilian towards you will naturally reduce your whole investigation of their character into a single second spent measuring their speed and gait to determine whether they’re really a monster, whether you’re about to receive a mauling and whether you shoot.
Keeping the crowd calm in the first place might be a matter of walking instead of running, tagging civilians with brightly coloured bracelets once you’ve decided they’re ‘clean’, or dragging your suspects off to basements or other secluded places before you shoot them. Dragging the mood of a room back down once panic has set in is harder. Maybe you’ll have to give away a weapon, slap some sense into someone or tell someone in a gravelly voice to shut the fuck up if they want to get out alive (though if they’re close enough to losing their shit any of these might push them over the edge).
Give the game multiplayer and give it a final level set in some rich kid’s Halloween party and you’ve got something I’d give a toe to play.
* I am NOT writing this late. For your information, if I still have makeup left on my face it’s still Halloween.