I’ve had this game in my library for a while now, having initially wishlisted it for an interesting intro trailer. Puzzle solving murders? Wandering around a beautifully realised village in the Pacific Northwest? Why yes, yes please.
I didn’t play the original version, opting for the more recently released “redux” version, touting improvements to the checkpoints, graphical upgrades, and fixes to “an area.”
My major impression of this game is that it’s really pretty. The environment was very well-realised and rather stunning to just meander around in from the very beginning, walking out of a train tunnel into a secluded glade. Wind rustled in the trees around me. It’s close to sunset, with warm summer light trickling through the branches.
I wandered around the glade, taking in the rocks, trees and other sounds of nature. And then, discovering traps leaping out at me. The first was definitely startling, but are clearly designed to never hit the player, acting as a somewhat passive jump scare. As first puzzle of the game, it provides an incentive to wander around the forest, look at it all, and find the rest. After solving the puzzle pushing the appropriate X To Continue, I was … transported to a hillside.
Covered with skeletons.
Yep, it was pretty shocking.
The game continues in this vein, throwing shocking imagery in the midst of beautiful scenery, until the very, touching, end.
Except that one bit, that was the “area” that was “fixed.” That area was a major, major thematic jump from the rest of the game. Until that point it was a dark, moody and consistent experience of background horror through safe but disturbing scenery. There was some WTF? moments, but nothing ever felt like I was in danger. By contrast, this area had me being actively hunted by a something, requiring that I be Sneaky McSneakface and deal with that anxiety and stress.
The best way to describe it is that instead of the pervasive dread, the game went for cheap jump scares and it broke the atmosphere.
Fortunately, after that point it’s back to the calm and beautiful environments dripping with unseen malice.
I won’t comment on any other details, but, overall, I think it’s worth playing.