Their aim in making this, or so they state, was “to show that the most terrifying monsters of all come from the human mind,” which they attempt to reach by way of every other vital organ.

You know the best moment in this game?

The part at the very beginning when you walk up to the huge asylum, and the sun has just set, and the building is sitting there looking all foreboding, and you see a shadow peer out the window and run away. That was the only point where they made any effort to set a genuine mood. The rest of the time you’re just being carpet bombed by images ripped from the pages of Gray’s Anatomy.

It’s all downhill from here

Basically this is a haunted house in video game form. You walk a more or less fixed path from start to finish while the various gruesome pre-loaded exhibits spring out one by one and make you jump. While that means you do get to skip the lines and carnies, you also miss out on all of the live-action mechanical ingenuity and the fun of screaming and laughing with your friends, which is really the main point of a haunted house, isn’t it?

Look, I understand that I’m expected to be scared by all this; and you can’t fault their effort. Believe me, their intentions in this matter are unmistakable; but what’s funny is that it had exactly the opposite effect.

Maybe he’s friendly…

How can a game so fast-paced be so thoroughly boring?

It comes down to predictability. For all the slick execution of the Call-of-Duty-style scripted events, they’re out to do one thing and one thing only here: shock you with graphic violence. Even when they try to mix it up by forcing you to watch the blood & guts through the good old Paris Hilton night vision camera, the tune never changes. Their singular purpose becomes clear almost the instant you climb through the window. From that point on there’s not one ounce of subtlety or mystery to be found, and therefore it creates no terror whatsoever in the player’s mind.

Sure, it’s intense, like a broken speaker blasting white noise at full volume, but it’s a meaningless intensity, so ridiculously over the top that it’s impossible to connect with or take seriously on any level. Just a tasteless sugar rush of unhealthy video game calories.

Either way, it’s all the same

I mean, you already know exactly what’s going to happen in every situation.

Of course the guy in the chair is going to get up and try to kill you. Did you think he wasn’t? Of course the door will be locked. Of course you won’t reach the exit that easily. Of course somebody grabs you through the bars. Of course the next room, much like the last, will be filled with bodies in various stages of disassembly. What else did you expect?

Was there any doubt there would be a sewer level, too?

There’s a perverse unimaginativeness to it all. They don’t call it a walking simulator, but mop up the entrails and it’s pretty much Layers of Fear, plus the occasional possibility of death, minus the visual creativity which was its only virtue. You’re left with the urge to scream not in horror, but merely for some relief from the monotony.

“Please, for the love of God! Show me something interesting! Scare me! I’ll do anything!”

But the game just plods dully toward you, cleaver in hand, eyes blank as a butcher’s.

Developer: Red Barrels

Publisher: Red Barrels

Purchased on: Steam

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