Explore a defunct multiplayer server in this free horror FPS
No Players Online is a free action-horror first-person shooter video game wherein an abandoned online gaming server is visited once more. Developed by papercookies—Adam Pype and Viktor Kraus—this creepy VHS-style FPS offers you a look into an empty server that may or may not be haunted. However, the entirety of this game can be a bit tricky to play because it relies on figuring out the right secret codes.
You wish you were alone
No Players Online starts with you finding a VHS tape containing a Capture the Flag server that’s still up. True to its name, there are no players online, but you can access it and start playing, even by just yourself. The lack of opposing teams means that capturing the enemy flag is a piece of cake but also pretty boring. However, things start to become strange after you take that first flag.
The emptiness and silence of the small map are already unsettling enough. The graphics may remind you of Quake and the nostalgic feel of MS-DOS, too. After getting the enemy flag, however, you’ll come across an antique gramophone playing creepy music—and interacting with it starts off a chain of events that shows this game isn’t as abandoned as you first thought. A shadow starts stalking you across the map and you’re powerless to its whims.
Not only that, but an unexpected person connected to the FPS game tries to reach out to you. If you ignore their warnings, the game will stop and be unplayable. This makes it a short adventure, but in reality, the game has a hidden second phase that can only be unlocked by looking them up. There had been an alternate reality game (ARG) released separately to the fans, and they had to work together to uncover the mysteries presented.
The key isn’t in-game
On the surface, No Players Online is a short but interesting foray into the old-school game horror subgenre. The outdated graphics always guarantees an unease in figuring out whether what you’re seeing is a glitch or something else entirely. However, the first half of this game can seem like it was cut far too short—and just looking up guides for the secret endings feels like you’ve skipped a great experience in figuring out the puzzles.