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A Halloween Valentine May Be Cancelled But You Can Still Listen To Its Synth Pop Soundtrack Starting Today

The music lives on

In late 2022, Melbourne-based developer Things for Humans, led by musician Jacob Leaney, announced its new title A Halloween Valentine – a puzzle-adventure pop album set in a haunted amusement park on Valentine’s Day. The gameplay would see players use lyrics from songs written and performed by Leaney under his music moniker Monster Mansion to reunite two lovers in a queer romance story. However, come 2024, A Halloween Valentine’s development had ceased with Leaney citing burnout as a major reason why, but its soundtrack was something that Leaney wanted to continue working on, and the first single Halfway Love, written in collaboration with Laius, is out today.

Leaney had been working on A Halloween Valentine for around a year and a half, with several prototypes created to see how to make the gameplay mechanics best work. However, burnout started to kick in, with Leaney explaining that it led to a lack of energy and motivation to chase publishers even though there were some interested parties, as well as simply falling behind on development and dreading coming to work.

“I wasn’t enjoying working on it anymore and didn’t foresee that changing, so why continue,” states Leaney.

So why did Leaney decide to salvage A Halloween Valentine’s music?

“Music has always been my number one passion, so I was still excited and motivated to work on it even though I couldn’t keep working on the game,” says Leaney.

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“A Halloween Valentine was always meant to be accompanied by an album of original songs that doubled as a commercial/pop release from my music artist project Monster Mansion. So to me, finishing the album anyway was a pretty obvious step as many of the songs had already been completed.”

Halfway Love showcases Leaney and Monster Mansion’s signature sound, with pulsing synths, pop vibes and catchy hooks. Leaney shares that the song is from the album Super Romance, a title Leaney feels is adjacent to A Halloween Valentine conceptually.

“I was writing a lot about both the good and bad things/experiences around romance and relationships, so exploring this concept through combining Halloween and Valentine’s Day felt fitting – romance and relationships are spooky scary!”

The album is due out in late 2024, with Leaney admiting that not all the songs would have worked for A Halloween Valentine and separating the music from the game has allowed for greater freedom of expression, especially being more vulnerable with the lyrics. Halfway Love was chosen as the first single due to the collaborative effort with his good friend and artist Laius, and it’s a track that he is super proud of.

“After I got the mix back with his vocals on it I quickly decided it should be released as soon as possible,” says Leaney. “It’s rare I get the opportunity to feel so proud of something and then be able to release it immediately; usually it sits around for so long that I have already mentally moved on to something new!”

Halfway Love is the only track on Super Romance featuring another vocalist and that isn’t produced by Leaney, with Christian Fiore getting the credit. But what’s the story behind the track?

“I’ve been single the last three years and done a bit of dating in that time, which led to my first experience with ‘situationships’,” Leaney answers. “What I always felt held them together was hope, in spite of knowing someone’s gonna get hurt. Halfway Love is a hopeful way to look at a romantic relationship that is clearly never going to be a fully committed relationship.”

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Music has always been my number one passion, so I was still excited and motivated to work on it even though I couldn’t keep working on the game

Before A Halloween Valentine, Things for Humans developed the popular 2021 title Video World, which saw players working in a video store and also had a Halloween synth pop theme. Leaney admits that he hasn’t closed the door on video game development, stating that “the itch to create worlds and play is starting to hang around again” due to his involvement in the indie games community and his work as a composer – an instrumental version of one of his songs (titled Rewind) is featured in Neon Squad Tactics by Tin Man Games, which released on the Meta Quest 3 on June 13.

Leaney says that he hopes his love for “exploring small, silly ideas, and creating small worlds and cosy atmospheres” will see him continue to explore that side of his creativity, and he admits that he does have some ideas to finish A Halloween Valentine or take the idea and do something new with it. But time will tell whether they become projects that Leaney takes on.

In the meantime, if you want to check out any of Leaney’s Monster Mansion tunes, you can check out his catalogue on Bandcamp (see above) and Spotify.

Written By Zach Jackson

Despite a childhood playing survival horrors, point and clicks and beat ’em ups, these days Zach tries to convince people that Homefront: The Revolution is a good game while pining for a sequel to The Order: 1886 and a live-action Treasure Planet film. Carlton, Burnley FC & SJ Sharks fan. Get around him on Twitter @tightinthejorts

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