Labs Games’ Mark Collins discusses their newest game, “Safe House.” Inspired by a love of ‘60s spy films, it’s a nifty adventure making use of both new and old game mechanics.

About Safe House:

With an art style that harkens back to classic spy films, Safe House will transport you to the fictional world of Kazataire – a nation suffering from chronic corruption after a devastating military coup. Take on the role of an intelligence officer with the CIA who joins an elite task force bent on collecting valuable intel and toppling those in power.

Get ready to recruit, train, and deploy spies from a top-secret location that’s perfect for running a modern spy ring. Complete missions to earn new abilities and unlock operations – leading to a number of possible endings in the single-player campaign. A spy’s life is never easy. To earn revenue, use tradecraft to break codes, forge IDs, exchange secret phrases, and more.

About Lab Games:    

Based in Vancouver, Labs Games is a one-man studio founded in 2015. With the flexibility that comes with being a micro-studio, Labs Games is able to create fun, experimental titles like Safe House. To learn more about Labs Games and Safe House, please visit

Old School Gamer Magazine: How was this game born?

Mark Collins: At Labs Games, we’re huge fans of spy movies and games – especially those with that retro ‘60s feel. We’ve always wanted to create a spy game in that style, but with a bit of a twist. The goal with Safe House was to approach this somewhat familiar genre from a new angle – from the eyes of the “super spy’s” boss.

Old School Gamer Magazine: What has development been like so far?

Collins: The game was developed by a very small team. That’s always a challenge, but it’s also very fulfilling. There was a lot to juggle – and it was satisfying to see all the pieces come together in the end! From the beginning, Safe House has had a group of loyal Kickstarter backers – so it’s been great to share their enthusiasm throughout the development process. That’s the best morale booster there is.

Old School Gamer Magazine: What makes this game special?

Collins: Safe House approaches a subject that lots of people are familiar with – but from a different perspective altogether. Everyone has played as a James Bond-esque spy, but what if you played as the person in charge … behind the scenes? Instead of saving the world, you’re the one responsible for assigning missions, providing support, and upgrading facilities.

Old School Gamer Magazine: What games influenced this one the most?

Collins: Clearly, one of the biggest influences is Papers, Please: After all, Safe House consists of a series of mini-games that must be completed within a specific time limit. Also, in our game, the fictional nation and story are established and told purely through gameplay – something we took to heart after playing Papers, Please.

Old School Gamer Magazine:
How important is the music in this game?

Collins: Safe House goes for that retro 1960s style, and the music in the game is no different. I firmly believe that it’s the music that really helps set the tone and atmosphere.

Old School Gamer Magazine: Do you think preserving older gameplay mechanics in new games is important?

Collins: If a gameplay mechanic serves to fulfill the overall vision of the game, then this is always important – whether it’s new or old. In the case of Safe House, base building and upgrading is a time-tested mechanic and also an important pillar of the game. The overall experience wouldn’t be the same without it.

Old School Gamer Magazine: What’s your favorite memory as a gamer?

Collins: Playing Half-Life 2 for the first time and throwing that can in the garbage for the Combine Soldier. Being able to actually pick up that can – and throw it – using real physics was mind-blowing at the time.

Old School Gamer Magazine: Favorite console and why?

Collins:Gotta be my trusty Xbox 360. At its peak, the Xbox 360 had so many great games; it was unbeatable!

Old School Gamer Magazine: Who will enjoy this game the most?

Collins:Fans of espionage games or strategy games. The atmosphere, tone, and story in Safe House are real throwbacks to classic spy fiction – something we don’t really see that often in games today.

Old School Gamer Magazine: How do you want this game to be remembered?

Collins: We hope that the game is remembered for its integration of seemingly distinct elements (base building, unit management, and puzzle solving) in a cohesive whole that serves to tell a unique story. If gamers see Safe House as a fresh twist on the genre, we’ll be very happy.

Old School Gamer Magazine: What’s next?

Collins: We’re probably going to relax for a bit. After that, it’s on to the next game! In the meantime, we’re looking closely at player feedback and making any needed changes and fixes – including balance adjustments.


Patrick Hickey Jr. is the author of the book, “The Minds Behind the Games: Interviews With Cult and Classic Video Game Developers,” from McFarland And Company. Featuring interviews with the creators of 36 popular video games–including Deus Ex, NHLPA 93, Night Trap, Mortal Kombat, Wasteland and NBA Jam–the book gives a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of some of the most influential and iconic (and sometimes forgotten) games of all time. Recounting endless hours of painstaking development, the challenges of working with mega-publishers and the uncertainties of public reception, the interviewees reveal the creative processes that produced some of gaming’s classic titles.

Patrick Hickey Jr. Patrick Hickey Jr. (330 Posts)

Patrick Hickey, Jr., is the founder and editor-in-chief of and a lecturer of English and journalism at Kingsborough Community College, in Brooklyn, New York. Over the past decade, his video game coverage has been featured in national ad campaigns by top publishers the likes of Nintendo, Deep Silver, Disney and EA Sports. His book series, "The Minds Behind the Games: Interviews With Cult and Classic Game Developers," from McFarland and Company, has earned praise from Forbes, Huffington Post, The New York Daily News and MSG Networks. He is also a former editor at NBC and National Video Games Writer at the