11 Dec


Filed under: PC Games No Responses


If you can see them up close like this, you’re probably dead.

I bought this quite recently wondering what a survival horror game with no combat would play like. It wasn’t quite what I imagined it would be. It is scary. That can’t be denied. But not in the way that I prefer. It’s a short game however, someone who is skilled could probably finish it in 6 hours or so so I don’t regret spending time on it.

  • As advertised, you can’t fight except for scripted scenes in which you can shove away enemies. But the protagonist isn’t quite a defenceless weakling either. You can run faster than any of the baddies can. You can clamber over obstacles, jump a fair distance, squeeze into vents (seriously, they’re playing this trope straight), hide inside lockers and under beds and so forth. You can even regenerate health over time and unless you’re playing at the very hardest difficulty, all enemies will need more than one hit to kill you. This means simply barrelling past them is a viable tactic. So you may not be a fighter, but you’re way more of a parkour expert than the average person.

  • I’d expected the game to ramp up the tension slowly. Something like entering the asylum to gradually discover clues that something is not right. It does no such thing. You need to parkour pretty much right from the get go and you’re exposed to the full dose of blood and gore right after that. There’s no slow build-up of suspense at all. This is horror the Hollywood way: blood and guts splattered everywhere, piles of corpses, jump scares, knife-wielding maniacs with bad skin, physical mutilation.


Don’t mind him, he’s just finger-painting.
  • One of my main disappointments is that I couldn’t empathize with the protagonist at all. This is the kind of horror story in which you just want to scream at the protagonist to stop doing stupid shit. So you’re an investigative reporter who receives a tip off about horrific stuff going on inside an asylum is your idea is to check it out in the middle of the night? You see that everything is quiet and all the doors are locked up, so your next move is to climb up to a second-storey window and break in? What kind of a moron are you? Inside, an obviously deranged priest with shredded skin starts giving you instructions and you actually obey? Why? Your in-game objectives are communicated to you through text pop-ups but I, for one, could not understand why it made sense to follow them, but that’s where the plot lead and so I had to follow to progress through the game.
  • The game mechanics are surprisingly repetitive, perhaps because there are so few of them. To progress through many of the levels, you have to do a number of things, turn a valve, press a button and so forth. Predictably this attracts an enemy’s attention so you must always find a hiding place after doing that action. Then you wait until the enemy wanders away and move on to repeat this with the next objective. It doesn’t help that the objectives are so boring and so video-gamey. Another problem is that you have no tools to tell where an enemy is if you can’t see him except by listening and hiding in darkness doesn’t always work. I guess this makes it scary since there’s always a risk of being found but it’s also very frustrating. Of course, when you’re found you can always run, and running always works.


This is what hiding under a bed in the dark looks like.
  • Judging from these mechanics and the design of the encounters, you are in fact intended to spend quite a bit of your time madly running away from enemies who are chasing you. Since there are no indications of where you need to go next, this results in a fair number of deaths until you figure out where you need to go next or learn the level well enough to know where the hiding spots are. Basically learning through trial and error. Note that running like a headless chicken through a level means that you don’t have time to stop and explore and look around. To be fair, you do get plenty of areas where there are no enemies and you do get to look around. I’m just saying that those areas that do have enemies aren’t really conducive to exploration. This is frustrating if you miss recordings and documents because you had to speed run through an area.
  • Apparently some people found this game to be very easy. I played it on hard difficulty and found it rather frustrating. My mistake I think is that I tried too hard to play it like a stealth game and attempting to be undetected all the time. Instead, in the areas where there are enemies, this is really a run like mad and thinking on your feet game. In this game, you will be found and you will be hit. You just need to hold it together and escape and hide. Ironically this made the enemy sequences not scary at all. I mean, sure, seeing the animation where the big bad dude catches up with you and rips you apart looks scary the first few times. But it’s just annoying once you’ve gotten killed over and over again and you just want to get on with it.

All this makes it sound like I really hate this game. I don’t. I think its graphics are great and it does creepy well enough. I applaud the attempt at making an action game without combat but it just turned out not to be the kind of horror game that I like. When I think scary, I think of the Overlook Hotel level in Vampire: Bloodlines, some of the levels in Thief, even Gone Home for its atmosphere. I like slow burn stories that slowly ramp up the horror over time, something more subtle and less in-your-face. Here, I am unpleasantly reminded of the stupidity of the story in F.E.A.R. I can see why this game has its fans but it’s really not my cup of tea.


Most of the story is recounted through these text documents. Hope you find all of them.
Written on December 11 2014 and is filed under PC Games. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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