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  • Writer's pictureMassih Naisan

LIMINAL PHASE: A Horrific Apartment Design

Hi! I’m Massih Naisan, Co-founder and 2D/3D Artist at anananas studio. We’re a small game development team from Sweden dedicated to creating unique and surreal VR experiences, and we strongly believe that virtual reality is the next step in the evolution of gaming! In our latest game LIMINAL PHASE, players assume the role of a character named Frank, who is trapped in a dark and eerie apartment that serves as a gateway to other realms.


A Lonely Man in a Lonely Place

Initially, LIMINAL PHASE wasn’t about a lonely man in a dimly lit apartment. One of our earlier concepts revolved around an infinite train with compartments that lead to other worlds. However, as the concept evolved, we eventually landed in an apartment where the blinds remain drawn, where an eternal rain falls, and where a depressed and mentally unstable man called Frank resides.

A few of the reasons why we decided to use a small apartment setting as the base for our game were: it’s relatable for many of us, it would allow us to keep the project at a manageable size and, most importantly, we were excited to work on a claustrophobic and atmospheric indoor environment. This concept underwent many iterations until we finally landed in the game that we ended up with.

From the outset, we knew that we wanted Frank to visit different “worlds”. We also knew that the apartment had to feel small and confined to make the impact of leaving it more profound. In line with our vision for a horror game, we wanted a moody and atmospheric apartment. To achieve this we worked subtly with lighting and made sure to vary the color and intensity of the lighting in different areas of the apartment to create contrast between those spaces.

The living room of Frank’s apartment in LIMINAL PHASE. Not all is what it seems at first glance.
The living room of Frank’s apartment in LIMINAL PHASE. Not all is what it seems at first glance.

Radical Dude!

The story is set in a ‘90s setting, very similar to our own world, though in Frank’s world you won’t find Doom, IBM or Papa John’s. They’re replaced by: Boom, SCP and Baba Jhan’s. We have a deep nostalgia for the ‘90s, having grown up in that era playing MS-DOS games, watching VHS cassettes and collecting big box games. 1.44 MB floppy disks hold a special place in our hearts. The early ‘90s also predated the widespread Internet and the constant connectivity we experience today, which we thought amplified Frank’s loneliness. For these reasons, the 1990s was a great fit for our story.

The Colour of Angst

Inspiration for colours and atmosphere came from many sources, yet the main influence was the paintings of Francis Bacon (1909 - 1992). As we were developing the story a moodboard was also being worked on in parallel. The images in the mood board were not necessarily intended to serve as direct inspiration for specific elements in our game, rather we wanted them to invoke emotions and set the tone for the project. This was especially important at the beginning of the project.

The mood board was used to ensure that the three of us shared a unified vision and goal for the feeling and atmosphere that we wanted to capture in LIMINAL PHASE. It was also meant as an inspiration for sounds and music. As the project matured – and we better understood what the game was about in terms of visuals, mechanics and audio – the mood board was less referred to.

The moodboard created for LIMINAL PHASE
The moodboard created for LIMINAL PHASE

The point was not to pick colours right off the paintings in the mood board, but rather try to capture the emotions that the paintings conveyed, which to us were feelings of horror, dread, depression and angst. Simultaneously, we wanted the player to feel relatively safe in the initial stages of the game–which led us to aim for an eerie setting–but with a touch of warmth still.

Spiralling Architecture

LIMINAL PHASE revolves around Frank who’s spiralling down into darkness, and we decided to extend this concept directly into the apartment’s architecture itself.

The flow of the apartment in LIMINAL PHASE
The flow of the apartment in LIMINAL PHASE

The game starts in the bedroom, and from there the player walks in a “spiral” until eventually the mysterious red door in its core is reached. The red door is placed almost at the centre of the apartment and unlocking it is meant to be the main motivation for the player. The apartment layout took inspiration, to some extent, from the house in Resident Evil 7 and Elliot’s apartment in the TV series “Mr. Robot”. The apartment doesn’t necessarily exist as a tangible place in the world of LIMINAL PHASE. In my mind, it’s a manifestation of the liminal phase itself. To some extent, it serves as a reflection of Frank’s self-image, functioning as a mental prison from which there is no escape. I invite anyone who plays the game to draw their own conclusions.

A Mysterious Red Door

As previously mentioned, the player's primary objective is to unlock the out-of-place-red-door, situated in the middle of the apartment. The intention is to keep the player motivated to progress in the game in hopes of eventually unlocking the red door and unveiling the mystery. Visually, this idea drew inspiration from “Silent Hill 4: The Room” by Team Silent (KONAMI) and a particularly unusual door from the TV series “Archive 81” (2022). Doors can symbolize many different things, but in LIMINAL PHASE, the red door is meant to symbolize the unknown, imprisonment, horror and perhaps even–a way out. The red door appears in various forms throughout the game.

Doors can provide safety in many situations, but they can also transform into obstacles and turn an apartment into a prison. Play LIMINAL PHASE to find out if Frank will ever escape his prison.

The mysterious red door
The mysterious red door

Join our mailing list to keep up to date with the project! You are most welcome to join our Discord Server as well if you have any questions, want to give us feedback or just hang out.



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