Last updated: 13 March 2023

Published on: 26 September 2016


Singapore-born Gattai Games is on a mission to make gamers truly fear again – and this time no one will hear them scream for help.

By Peter Yeo

In 2014, four students from the DigiPen Institute of Technology Singapore did the unthinkable. They created a video game – without the realistic graphics gamers have come to expect from a game.

In the world of gaming, graphics are the beacon to draw gamers. A game with eye-popping visuals will draw the crowds, but it takes great gameplay to make them stay. Unless, of course,  you are a cult gaming legend such as Hideo Kojima whose Kojima Productions banner drew fans even without a game in sight. But it takes guts to drop a game without visuals, especially for a fledgling company.

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The game was Lurkingand the company, Gattai Games. In 2014, two of the original developers of Lurking, Justin Ng and Bryan Teo roped in Wesley Yeo to found Gattai Games in order to build games without having a suit to watch over them.

Justin and Bryan, together with Soo Zhong Min and Dexter Chng, had earlier developed the sound-based thriller video game that uses the noises you make – including your laboured breathing – to help find your way around the environment, for their final year project at DigiPen.

The innovative concept won multiple awards, including the Official Selection at the Sense of Wonder Night (SOWN) at the Tokyo Games Show 2014; Best Student Game as well as Excellence In Technology at IGF China 2014; and also the Gamer’s Voice Nominee at SXSW Gaming Awards 2015.

“I attended all the award ceremonies,” Justin said. “Watching people play the game was an amazing feeling. The team and I went in (to the awards ceremonies) with a fairly pragmatic mindset, knowing that a nomination or award would not directly contribute to a commercial  success.

“More than anything, I felt the events gave me more perspective. As developers at a global stage, we need to bring our A game to compete on the same level.”

Encouraged by the traction Lurking received from the nominations, awards and overwhelming gamers’ interest, Gattai Games pitched the idea of building a commercial version of Lurking to Spring Singapore. With the blessings of DigiPen to rehash the concept, Gattai Games received funding to develop the full feature game, Stifled.

An eye-opening journey

Today, Gattai Games is made up of Justin Ng (Design + Business Guy), Bryan Teo (Code + Audio Guy), Wesley Yeo (Code Guy), Dexter Chng (Design Guy), Chen Wei Ren (Art + Design Guy) and Andre Pong (Design + Stuff Guy).

Built over two years, Stifled is a sound-based stealth thriller that may send your ticker into early cardiac arrest – especially if you are a horror newbie. The team researched so many horror movies for Lurking that “horror does nothing to us anymore”, Justin added. However, he admits that Stifled still scares him sometimes as he does not work on a lot of the levels.

The team stumbled on the idea after watching Out of Sight, a Taiwanese short animation about a blind girl who recreates the world around her by tapping, hearing the sounds, and taking environmental cues around her, such as feeling the wind. It is when the team learnt how well the monochrome echo-location visuals lent itself to horror genres that Lurking was born, said Bryan. On top of the stylistic visuals and core mic-gameplay concept of Lurking, the team tightened the pacing on Stifled for heightened suspense.

In July this year, Stifled was successfully Greenlit on popular gaming platform Steam. Taking the immersive game further, Sony announced Stifled would be one of the Southeast Asian players in active development for the PS:VR platform. The announcement is a huge relief for Justin, who said, “We can finally discuss our PS:VR involvement officially!”

The Sony Playstation development came after the team met a representative at TGS 2014 where they had showcased Lurking as a SOWN nominee. They signed up as a PS developer and pitched Stifled for PS:VR after Sony announced its Virtual Reality (VR) platform.

Justin thinks Stifled has markings of a great VR game. “Even though some gamers may face motion sickness when the game character starts moving but the player doesn’t (something we’re actively trying to solve), for us, the unique visuals and microphone input are the main draws to VR.

“The visuals allow players to experience a totally different world, and the additional layer of interaction generated by the player's microphone input equates to more immersion,” explained Justin.

As a parting shot, Justin had this advice for budding game developers, “Make a good game and work hard on getting it heard. Nobody nor any entity owes you anything, so don’t expect help.” Sound advice indeed.

To find out more about Stifled and when it will be released, sign up for the Stifled newsletter at

Image credit: Gattai Games