When Keymailer offered me a key for a horror game I was about to instinctively decline, but the art style and the fact it’s a point ‘n’ click made me reconsider.
One Man Show
Before I give my thoughts on this game, be aware that it was made by a single person (something the overly-long credits made abundantly clear), it’s not very long and it costs less than £4. I tend to go by the logic of £1 per hour of entertainment for things like games; are you gonna get more than 40-50 hours of fun out of that AAA game? If not then it’s probably not worth it. In this case I got perhaps an hour of entertainment. Not bad for a free game, but not good for a game costing more than £1.
I also try to be nice to indie or experimental games. This is both, but is very bad.
Oh, The Horror
First off, this game isn’t scary. Oh, it starts kinda spooky…but that’s abandoned very quickly. A prominent part of the Steam page is ‘one night can feel like a lifetime of pain, suffering and horror to a child’. This got me a little hyped for a pixel-art horror point ‘n’ click where a child fights or avoids monsters in his home. Sadly that is not what the game is. Without giving too much away, there’s a single segment as a child and the rest of the game is an indeterminate number of years later.
The game is only scary during that first bit, because you are naturally protective of a tiny, scared child beset upon by monsters. It does some genuinely creepy things in that first segment, but it’s immediately forgotten because of extended pottering about in brightly lit places with no danger, surrounded by comical characters and unrelatable situations.
By the end you’re so confused about what is or isn’t the plot that the horror factor is just gone. Excess gore and weird threats aren’t as scary as a child who can’t sleep, wandering around a dark house.
Under The Mask
If you set aside the horror, all you’re left with is a frankly incomprehensible plot. Not one of the characters acts in a way any real person would, meaning you don’t see them as real characters who need protection. You don’t care what happens to them because they don’t seem to care. Granted that’s a bit of a staple of bad horror films, but note the ‘bad’ part. Perhaps the pinnacle of weird plot decisions is when a character lies about someone else’s name… He reveals the lie almost immediately and the two names are very similar, leading you to wonder why on Earth he lied.
Along with the bizarre characters (admittedly the female lead is rather entertaining), you have some appalling spelling, grammar and punctuation mistakes. Especially towards the end of the game there’s rarely a line of writing without some mistake in it. And I’m not talking little things like run-on sentences or a dangling modifier. There are frequently letters missing from the starts of words, flatly incorrect punctuation, and something was described at one point as “huhe” instead of ‘huge’. It’s all VERY clear that no one proofread it and probably no spellchecker was used.
Pixel Horror Movie
It states on the Steam page that this game is written to resemble a movie rather than a game. I guess it sort of does given the plot twists for no reason, the inhuman characters and the written-in potential for a sequel (seriously, that bit’s also stated on the Steam page).
This could have been very scary, in spite of being a pixel art game, but it chose to drive the plot off a bridge and onto a plane instead of maintaining the tight, creepy setting it had prepared. The developer is also already talking about ‘remaking it from the ground up’, so if they do, I hope they elongate the child segment.
Still 100%ed it, though.