|This article may spoil any scares that may occur while playing "The Screecher." Proceed with caution.|
The Screecher is a total-conversion horror mod for Don't Starve, made by Klei Entertainment. It is a horror game similar to "Slender", played through the eyes of protagonist William "Bill" Moran as he attempts to escape a campground while being stalked by a monster.
The Screecher is played from a third-person perspective, the camera hovering just behind Bill's head. Consequently, Bill's face is never seen, but images can be found of his face in the game files.
Bill can get supplies by searching through various containers at campsites around Pillet Creek. These containers include things like Coolers, Duffle Bags, Jackets, Garbage Piles, etc. Most of the time, containers have nothing of interest, often times Bill exclaims that there is something rotting inside the container or that the contents were ripped to shreds. However, searching containers is crucial to survival in Pillet Creek.
Bill's most useful tool is the flashlight, which is always in a container at the starting point. Batteries are required to keep the flashlight on, and are also found in containers across Pillet Creek. The flashlight is crucial, because it is the only portable light source available and if Bill is left standing in complete darkness for more than a few seconds, he will die (a noise will be heard, similar to Charlie, when this happens).
Bill can also find a map of Pillet Creek, in a random container. This is another important item, allowing him to better navigate the campground. He will also find multiple notes. There are nine notes in total, and these act mostly as something extra to do, as they do not all need to be collected to finish The Screecher.
Bill can interact with objects in Pillet Creek, similar to the way he searches containers. He can examine signs, light campfires, talk through a HAM radio, and restart a generator. All these actions use "Don't Starve" type prompts.
After a certain point in the story, the Screecher will begin stalking Bill and will randomly appear in front of him as he walks along the trail (The Screecher stands still when viewed). If the player finds themselves looking at the Screecher, they must immediately look away or turn off their light, then wait a few seconds for the Screecher to disappear. If Bill looks at it for too long, it will screech, drain the flashlight's battery, and swiftly charge Bill, killing him instantly.
Bill Moran and Sarah Beacon are a couple arriving by helicopter for a week-long camping trip in the heavily forested campground of Pillet Creek on January 9, 1986. Shortly after they arrive, a Brazilian couple disappears, and something starts rummaging through the camp at night. Bill goes out in search of the Brazilians, and after being missing for two days, Sarah panics, leaves Bill a note and a flashlight at their campsite, and heads for the helipad. When Bill returns on the night of the 14th, it is pitch black. After hearing a strange screeching sound in the woods, he lights a Fire Pit, collects Sarah's flashlight, and sets off into the woods to investigate.
As Bill makes his way through Pillet Creek, his flashlight begins to flicker at odd times, and screeches can be heard in the distance. Realizing something is wrong, Bill decides to go to the helipad. On his way, he notices many other abandoned campsites, and finds some batteries for his flashlight, a map of Pillet Creek, and multiple notes, including diary entries, letters, scraps of paper with eerie warnings, a manifest for the helicopter, and the Pillet Creek emergency radio frequency.
He then finds a woman, cowering along the trail. As he approaches her, she runs into the woods in fear of the light. Later, at another campsite, Bill finds a disturbed man, wearing a hood and whimpering in a rocking chair with his back turned to Bill. As he approaches, the man's head turns sharply to face Bill, revealing (as an in-game screamer) that his entire face has been torn off (leaving nothing but bloody muscle tissue) just before he dies.
Eventually, Bill comes to a campsite with a massive bloodstain on the ground. After finding a note saying "IT HUNTS THOSE WHO STARE" written in blood, the campfire (if lit) will go out and his flashlight flickers out, leaving him in total darkness. When he turns the flashlight back on, he witnesses a woman being killed by the Screecher, a bloodthirsty monster with the body of a human male and the head of an owl. He stares at it for a second and it opens its enormous mouth and screeches at Bill, then disappears, leaving the woman's carcass behind, her face torn off in the same manner as the man he met earlier.
The Screecher begins to actively stalk Bill, appearing in front of him on the path to the helipad. If Bill stares at the Screecher again, it will kill him.
As Bill progresses, he discovers several bloodied bodies, including one that appears to be Sarah's body. Just as he reaches the helipad, Bill finds a radio. Upon activating it (Bill does not need to find the emergency frequency note to use it), a voice will say "We thought you were dead, Bill. We'll come get you. Turn on the beacon with the generator!" After restarting the generator, he waits on the helipad, hoping to be rescued. All of a sudden, the lights go out and his flashlight flickers off (it doesn't matter how many pages were collected). If Bill turns the lights back on, he will discover that he is now surrounded by many Screechers (any Screecher in focus of the flashlight will attack), the user's screen will turn red, the screechers will screech in unison and quickly crawl towards Bill, and the game ends.
There are nine notes to be found in Pillet Creek. The game has a total of fifteen notes, of these fifteen, nine will be chosen randomly, although some notes, like Sarah's note, will always spawn.
January 9 Note:
- January 9
- The helicopter just dropped us off. This place is amazing and the tour guide seems really nice. It is so peaceful out hear[sic], no one around for miles.
January 12 Note:
- January 12
- Something rummaged our camp last night. Things are getting wierd, I haven't seen the Brazilian couple in days. It's so cold, Bill is trying to fix the generator.
January 14 Note:
- January 14
- Bill went looking for the Brazilian couple, he still hasn't come back. I'm getting really scared. There is something out there in the woods. We need to get out of here. I must find the guide.
- I can't wait here anymore, I'm going to try to call the helicopter. I left my flashlight for you. See you soon -Sarah
Emergency Frequency Note:
- EMERGENCY FREQUENCY
- 1640.4 AM
- HELICOPTER MANIFEST
- Russel Haze
- Dylan Cummings
- William Moran
- Marco Rassi
- Vera Rassi
- Sarah Beacon
- Vince Glover
- Richard Marks
- Hanna Marks
- Joanna Rock
- Jane Bigs
Don't Look Note: (this note is written in blood)
- DON'T LOOK AT IT!
Only Hope Note:
- USE THE FLASHLIGHT [sic] ITS YOUR ONLY HOPE
Pray for us Note:
- There are only a few of us left, we could not find the missing children, but I still hear them out there. Pray for us.
- I love you,
- [the signature was torn from the bottom of the note]
- A drawing of a Screecher silhouette and four pine trees drawn in black, with a red background drawn in around them.
It Hunts Note: (this note is written in blood)
- IT HUNTS THOSE WHO STARE
Rescue Team's Note:
About Something Note:
- I saw something, it was tall and hairy. It had big round eyes. It disappeared in a second. It is still at there. Before Chris died, he called it an OWL but it is something else. I'm safe near the fire, it does not bother me here.
Blank Loose Leaf Note:
- A black piece of lined loose leaf paper. Paper is crumpled and covered with dirt stain.
Blank Plain Note:
- A blank piece of plain drawing paper. Paper is in the same condition as the other blank note.
Two of the notes are lists of names. One of them is the manifest for the helicopter, it has the words "Helicopter Manifest" at the top, and the full names of eleven people:
- Russel Haze
- Dylan Cummings
- William Moran
- Marco Rassi
- Vera Rassi
- Sarah Beacon
- Vince Glover
- Richard Marks
- Hanna Marks
- Joanna Rock
- Jane Bigs
The other note seems to be a list of campers made by a rescue team. There are sixteen names listed. Many of the names are crossed out with the word "DEAD" written next to them, indicating those characters were found dead. A few have the word "-FOUND" written next to them, indicating that those persons were found by rescue teams and subsequently rescued. Two names are crossed out with the word "MONSTER" written next to them, indicating that they were turned into Screechers. Some names are unmarked, indicating they have not yet been located, and could potentially be alive, dead, or turned into a Screecher.
- Lee -FOUND
- Mauro -FOUND
Michaela -FOUNDDEAD BillDEAD RyanMONSTER MikeDEAD Chris -NO FACEDEAD DeeDEAD
Only a few of the names (William "Bill" Moran and Sarah Beacon) overlap on the two lists, indicating most of the campers from their helicopter had left before the Screechers attacked, as a rescue team would try to rescue everyone in a hostile area. It is likely that those persons would have left before then, as the Screechers attacked five days after the helicopter carrying those people landed (as indicated by some of the notes). Bill and Sarah most likely were there on a week-long camping trip, which would be why they stayed so long. The other campers must have arrived by other means. Some of the names on the Helicopter Manifest will also have been the helicopter's crew, rather than passengers, making them potentially part of the rescue team instead.
The main character is identified by the radio as Bill, making him most likely the William Moran from the Helicopter Manifest and the "Bill" from the rescue list and the dated notes. Although the Bill from the rescue list is listed as dead, this is explained during the conversation with the person on the radio, who says that they thought Bill was dead. Sarah Beacon, a name on both lists, left a note at Bill's camp telling him she was going to the helicopter. She may have been Bill's girlfriend, which seems likely as they arrived together on the helicopter.
There are three other notes, dated January 9, 12, and 14th, which are written from the perspective of someone arriving from the helicopter who made camp with Bill, which most likely means Sarah. She describes Pillet Creek as being beautiful, and the unnamed tour guide as being nice. She then mentions something rummaging through her and Bill's camp, and a Brazilian couple going missing. Finally, she mentions Bill went out to search for the Brazilian and subsequently also disappearing, and so the writer gets scared and states that she needs to find the guide and leave Pillet creek, even though Bill is still gone. She did so, which is why she left a note behind for Bill. Sarah is listed as dead on the Rescue List, so she is likely to have been the dead woman found on the trail from Bill's camp to the helicopter pad. When Bill finds this body, he says "Oh no."
A couple identified as the "Brazilian couple," in the dated notes went missing before the Screechers attacked. The identity of the Brazilians is not made entirely clear, but the only Portuguese name on either list is "Jose" on the Rescue Team's List, most likely making him the husband. Michaela, one of the female names of the same list, is an uncommon Western European name which potentially could be the wife. Michaela is listed as found, but then is crossed out and replaced with "DEAD." This indicates that she was found alive, but died before she was able to be evacuated. Jose was not found at all. The Brazilian couple could also be Marco and Vera Rassi (listed on the manifest), but these names are more likely Italian.
One of the names on the rescue list, Chris, is listed as "-NO FACE" as well as "DEAD," which would most likely make him the faceless man found whimpering in a camp site and dies when Bill gets close enough, although he was clearly still alive when Bill approached him.
The name of the woman whom Bill finds still alive and runs when he approaches her, and later is seen being killed by a Screecher, is most likely Kristine, which is the only female name on the rescue list not listed as FOUND, DEAD, or MONSTER. However, she could also be one of the names from the Helicopter Manifest, although, again, by not being on the rescue list at all, it is implied that they were not in Pillet Creek when the Screechers attacked.
There was also a tour guide mentioned in the dated notes. He (or she) was most likely one of the names on the Rescue Team's List, although it is unknown which one, and what his (or her) ultimate fate was.
The Screechers origin is unknown, although it is intensely implied that they were once humans, both by their humanoid appearance and by the markings of "MONSTER" on the rescue list near the names Ryan and Rene. This indicates the Screechers can "reproduce" by turning their victims into other Screechers. How this is done is unknown, but can be implied by the way the Screechers kill their victims.
All dead bodies found in Pillet Creek are without faces (or their faces are not visible, still, it can be assumed). This indicates that the Screechers kill their victims in the same manner Kristine's death is witnessed, by the Screecher tearing off the face with its beak-like mouth. This likely provides the Screechers with some form of sustanance, but probably also has to do with creating more Screechers. It is possible this method of (literally) defacing victims allows for the Screecher's owl-like face to replace it, making the victims into new Screechers. However, many victims are just simply found lying dead without their faces. Most likely what this means is that the Screecher don't need the victims to be alive to convert them and that the empty shell of the body will suffice (Screechers' decrepid looking bodies do look like slightly decomposed corpses, giving credit to this theory), and thus with a rescue team out and about, the Screechers must kill as many campers as possible and convert their bodies afterwards.
Kristine's conversion was interrupted by Bill, causing the Screecher to drop her and disappear. Kristine was, however, dead at that point. Chris, having initially survived his attack, probably means he was interrupted too, probably by the rescue team, which would indicate why he was first indicated as "NO FACE" instead of outright "DEAD" like all the other corpses.
The rescue team has identified two campers, Ryan and Rene, as "monsters" in their rescue note. Without their faces or clothes, it is unknown how they were identified, but most likely it was due to scars, tattoos, or birthmarks. Although all Screechers in game appear exactly the same, this is likely just a technical shortcut, as creating individually unique sprites for the many Screechers in the one scene in which they appear would be a waste of resources. In the end, many Screechers can be seen, indicating a lot of campers were converted, more than just Ryan and Rene, probably including all of the unaccounted for names from the rescue list (aside from Kristine), whose bodies were probably not found because they had been converted already, and the bodies found already dead became Screechers between discovery and Bill reaching the helipad. The Brazilian couple is likely amongst them as well, or, more likely, just one of them, as it seems the conversion process is required to be uninterupted (as indicating by Kristine's death), one member of the couple was probably scared away and merely hunted down later. This hypothoses supports the theory that the Brazilians are Jose and Michaela.
It has also been theorized that the Brazilians may be Ryan and Rene, but this is dismissed, mostly due to the fact that these names are not Portuguese (Ryan is an English name and Rene is a French name). Furthermore, Rene is a unisex name, and could potentially be a man or a woman. This actually seems plausible, as all of the Screechers appear to be male (none of them have breasts). As indicated by Kristine's death, they are not above trying to convert females, but it is possible that when given a choice between a couple as to which they'd convert outright and which they'd go for later, they would favor the male for immediate conversion.
Most likely, however, is that the Brazilian couple is Marco and Vera Rassi, since both of these names are common Portuguese names and are male and female, respectively. Furthermore, the shared surname hints at them being a married couple.
Ultimately, there would have to be one or more original Screechers to start the conversion process. Who they were or how they became Screechers to begin with is not knowable. However, it can be noted that when the flashlight goes out in Bill's hand and the Screecher begins gradually increasing the volume and intensity of its screech right before it attacks, it sounds a great deal like Charlie does before she attacks, which, along with the way the Screechers appear to detest being seen (like Charlie), and the fact that The Screecher was developed by Klei Entertainment, may indicate some level of continuity with the story of Don't Starve proper.
- In the raw png for the unused Child, Demon Child and Camp Leader, you can see parts of Wilson's Hair style and facial expressions.
- There is code for the tree clump in the lua files.
- It is extremely similar to the game Slender. But in Slender, you must collect 8 pages rather than 9 notes in The Screecher.
- The name of the monster used in this mod may be a reference to the screech owl.
- When Wickerbottom examines Birds of the World book, she notes that her favorite bird is "Megascops Kennicottii", which is the scientific name for Western screech owl.
- Due to the fact that consoles generally don't have mod support, The Screecher is not present in the console releases of Don't Starve.