It starts out deliciously creepy.
Every kid’s afraid of that thing in the shadowy corner in the middle of the night. So they huddle under the covers and pretend it’s not there but they know it’s there. When the game asked me to choose between call for Mom and Dad, hide under the covers, or get out of bed, I cowered under the covers! There’s something foggy/cloudy in front of the window! I’m not going over there!
So I stared at the screen for a minute or so waiting for something to happen. I eventually got bored and started moving around. That’s when I realized I’m playing the part of a little girl, and she’s looking for her brother and parents.
As you move through the house, it funnels you in the direction you need to go by DROPPING AWAY the parts of the house you just went through. Creepy and effective. Then there’s the thumping and the screaming, and occasionally Claire will panic and you’ll lose control of her.
Finally made it to mom’s room, and the bed’s floating and the TV’s on a snow channel like Poltergeist! Then something crazy happens and you wake up in a hospital! It was just a dream! Whew!
But wait, now you’re caught in a worse nightmare: you need coffee. And there’s nobody around except creepy empty wheelchairs and locked doors. As you make your way through the hospital on your quest for coffee, it gradually gets more rundown and dingy, and still no people.
Then you pass out in an elevator and wake up and you’re on the wrong floor. There’s nowhere to go so you go back into the elevator but it’s not an elevator! It’s a different hallway of the hospital! So you go to the left and find a hospital bed on fire. OF COURSE you run over to it and hammer the action button, and suddenly you’re part of a Lovecraftian ritual!
This game is awesome.
What I like:
- Contextual controls. It’s very clear when you can take action.
- The coffee sign with arrows. All buildings need that. I need that for my house.
- Claire can pass out on a random bench.
- Claire sits down and puts her hoodie up and passes out if you stand still.
- Inventory/map/journal/notes system.
- Unexpected and crazy things happening, like in Uncanny Valley.
- Upgrading your light source (phone breaks, so you use a lighter, then you find a flashlight that consumes batteries).
- Little containers like lockers and cupboards to open and find stuff in.
- Really impressive translation of 2D play with floor plan of map.
- The map is really cool, and probably what hooked me to keep playing after the coffee stint. I really like how it marks rooms you can’t get into either with red marks for blocked, or a keyhole for lockpick-able. And you can mark the map with the R stick (one mark at a time).
- You can hide inside a closet!
- Who puts batteries in a urinal?
It’s about half an hour in before she asks where everyone is. I was asking that by room three after waking up in the hospital.
Found a stuffed animal, then suddenly a flashback to a pet adoption center. I’m thinking this game is a record of the creator’s life slash mental state. Even the animal shelter becomes creepier with each room you go through, until you find an altar of trash, then wake up.
This is my kind of game.