Tag Archives: horror

Metal Gear Survive review

After many minutes of cutscenes, several hints at gameplay without, in fact, participation, followed by mere moments of interactivity before the next slew of dialogue and exposition kicked in, I knew I was playing a Metal Gear game. Indeed, despite the apparent departure from the tried and tested formula, Metal Gear Survive has all the same elements you might expect from the series, making it a pleasant surprise after what the open Beta suggested it would be.

As the title suggests, Metal Gear Survive is focused on survival, and this mixes up the usual stealth play and action quite well with expanded mechanics that we saw hints of in previous Metal Gear games. You must now manage your thirst and hunger, which are frequent concerns, especially early on. This involves finding food and clean water and regularly consuming them, which in turn affects your health and stamina. Allow hunger or dehydration to get the better of you and your physical abilities suffer considerably, reducing your combat effectiveness and movement therefore putting you in grave danger against your foes.

These foes take the shape of zombie-esque characters; ferocious, animalistic adversaries that mean to tear you apart. They’re called Wanderers and inhabit a dimension called Dite, a world where you find yourself after an attack on Mother Base from the end of Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes. You’re not alone in this strange world however, other survivors are scattered around the large, open play area, and they can be found and recruited to help build and maintain your own base of operations, as you seek to discover the fate of a previously deployed unit to this dimension and a ways to escape it.

Managing your immediate needs of thirst and hunger make up only a small part of the overall management system. Your health is threatened by raw meat and dirty water, so medication is required to treat illness, while upgraded facilities are required to prevent illness in the first place. Meanwhile, every scrap of material is precious. This scrap is essential, allowing you to build new crafting stations at your base, new equipment and weapons to aid you, and defences to help keep the Wanderers at bay. This amalgamates in building up your base and outposts to be safe, self-maintained havens for you and the other survivors. And indeed, they soon become just that, with farms growing the all-important food you need and the other survivors even helping maintain it all as well as allowing you to send them on missions of their own. It’s gruelling, desperate survival initially but eventually gives way to rewarding progress and order.

Then there’s the story, which is surprisingly deep and intriguing. The Beta gave the impression of a cooperative survival game with equipment upgrades measuring progress, but in fact there’s a lengthy tale of political intrigue with plenty of twists and turns and pleasant links to The Phantom Pain. This is so much more than just a survival game that means to encourage emergent gameplay, there’s a story here worthy of the series. The multiplayer offering of teams of four protecting an area against swarms of Wanderers is but a small part of the experience, an optional part for more resources.

The meat of Metal Gear Survive is in the single-player offering, of searching for information about the lost unit, the Charon Corps, and figuring out a way back home while enduring the harsh environment. It’s a different kind of Metal Gear, and a riskier one at that, but there’s also something refreshing about it. Newcomers are likely to find this to be a survival game that’s challenging with a surprisingly heavy handed slice of exposition, meanwhile, Metal Gear fans may find something gripping and different about the experience. Post Kojima Konami may not be entirely without hope after all when it comes to this series. There is, of course, the £10 save slot debacle, and indeed that’s anti-consumer, over-priced nonsense, but the rest of the micro transactions are less offensive, allowing you to buy additional load-out slots and unit slots to send on missions. They are entirely optional extras that most will never feel the urge to indulge in.

While Metal Gear Survive is surprising in its single-player offering and story, it still suffers some missteps. Defending against waves of Wanderers and fetching data from computer terminals are the primary missions on offer, with side missions merely pointing you towards additional resources you can gather. It all gets a bit repetitive, especially once you devise a few winning strategies for dealing with the Wanderer hordes. Meanwhile, despite the lengthy story and its twists, character development is a bit lacking. Your character is fully customisable but mostly silent with no real personality beyond the one you imprint on them, and those that are explored come across as dull and uninspired. There’s no Kojima magic here for zany characters. Certainly there’s enough intrigue here to help keep you playing to see how it all comes together but it’s more supernatural than military sci-fi this time around.

Metal Gear Survive isn’t what it appeared to be. This isn’t a multiplayer mode stretched out into a full release, instead it’s an experimental title in the series with the same single-player dedication but some new and expanded survival mechanics running the show. As a survival game it’s a fun and challenging experience, whether played single-player or multiplayer, as a Metal Gear game it’s one of the weaker titles but certainly not without its charms.

Thanks to Xbox and Konami for supporting TiX

The Evil Within 2 review

The original The Evil Within’s setting of the mind of a psychopath; a whole world contained within a mind that others could access through a device, made for some excellent horror, and allowed elements such as pacing, logical world building, and even characterisation to take a back seat. With the sequel, more care has been taken to establish motivation and character personalities, playing more on emotion within the same madness of a mind-made world of horror.

The mind hosting the frights this time around is that of the protagonist’s, Sebastian Castellanos, daughter, who was abducted by the sinister MOBIUS, those behind the Beacon Hospital event from the original. This organisation have, once again, created a world that others can inhabit, something has gone wrong and now they rely on you to figure out what and save their operatives as well as your daughter.

Indeed, The Evil Within 2’s stronger focus on character gives it a Silent Hill 2 feel initially, this is further explored by a shift from linear environments to several open ones. However, while the psychology of Sebastian is mostly well played on in dialogue, boss encounters and general enemies fail to represent the trauma and fear of the protagonist in any meaningful way. In fact they’re a little disappointing in general, lacking the same originality and over-the-top gruesomeness as in the first title. Considering the visual are leagues ahead in detail and lighting, as well as featuring a far more varied colour palette, this is surprising and a bit of a let-down.

Fortunately, there’s still plenty of frightening encounters and environments to get your blood pumping. Despite spending a fair amount of time in the three open areas, there’s still plenty of corridors and more linear areas that allow for some creepy and tense exploration, playing on audio and the ‘close the shoulder’ camera to really play on the fear of the unknown. The open areas, meanwhile, are a little more action orientated but still do a good job getting the scares in with enough corners hiding terrors and copious amounts of items and side missions to encourage you to explore every nook and cranny. Moreover, the new ability to craft items means less collecting specific ammo types and more collecting material to craft what you want. This brilliantly allows you to create ammo for your preferred weapon rather than forcing you to use them all.

Additionally, the crafting mechanic creates a clever risk verses reward situation where crafting items in the field costs significantly more than returning to a safe house and crafting there. It forces you to frequently decide between trekking through enemy infested areas to get somewhere safe or taking the hit to materials and crafting where you are allowing you to continue. This is especially effective in the first few hours where a couple of hits is enough to put you down and your ammo count is pathetically small.

Even when ammo is more abundant, you’re never fully prepared for the enemy encounters. Stealth is the best way to proceed, avoiding combat as much as possible, and when it does kick-off, the open areas allow you to retreat, which is often a smart choice. Additionally, a more nuanced tree of abilities, both passive and active, can be unlocked with green goo as with the original title, and these help you shape Sebastian into the character you want for the play style you’ve chosen. Still, it’s a difficult game where a lapse in focus can easily result in your demise.

The Evil Within 2 is a great horror game that improves upon the original in movement, characterisation and inventory management brilliantly, but drops the ball a little when it comes to enemy originality and scares. This is partially due to the open areas offering a different experience but more so it’s a simple lack of creativity on the developer’s side. Still, it’s an attractive looking title with an intriguing setting and enough frightening encounters to put you on edge, less original but more refined.

Thanks to Xbox and Bethesda for supporting TiX

Resident Evil Revelations review

Sometimes being a game reviewer isn’t all it seems. Yes, reviewing a game you are looking forward to playing is great (eg.Tacoma), and unearthing a real gem that you had no intention of playing is even better (eg.The Sexy Brutale). But then there are games like Resident Evil Revelations.

The Resident Evil series is well loved and respected, and the most recent game (Resident Evil 7) updated the genre for the current generation consoles and was arguably one of the best in the series. But I was confused, as I knew that Revelations 2 had already been released on Xbox One, so why was I being tasked to review its prequel? A quick Google search later and I found that Resident Evil Revelations is a remastering of a last generation remake of a game originally released on the 3DS in 2012. We are in the era of well-loved games being remade and re-released, which sometimes don’t happen in quite the right order! So, research completed, and my question is: How will this remastering stand up in 2017?

Resident Evil Revelations (now referred to as RER) is developed by Capcom and takes place between the events of Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil 5. The story of the game follows series protagonists Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield as they try to stop a bioterrorist organisation from infecting the Earth’s oceans with a virus. The game mainly involves the player controlling Jill Valentine aboard a ghost ship in the Mediterranean Sea, but there are flashbacks and scenarios where you play as other supporting characters.

RER was originally designed to put emphasis on survival, evasion, and exploration ahead of fast-paced combat by providing the player with limited ammunition, health, and movement speed. It was designed to bring back the content and horror of the series’ roots, while at the same time trying to modernize the gameplay, in which lies my first and most critical complaint of the game. It’s great to put emphasis on evasion, but it doesn’t work when the control of the character is so sluggish. When you factor in the limited ammunition, which you will run out of on most boss encounters, it makes these encounters a hard slog, even when you’re playing on the easiest difficulty level. RER is a third person game which switchs into first person when aiming your weapon, this makes any encounter with more than one enemy extremely frustrating. One section, set as a flashback in a skyscraper, has you defending a foyer as you wait for a lift, against lizards (Hunters) who jump and attack in one movement from multiple directions. This is impossible to defend against or evade when the movement of your character, including weapon aiming, is just so slow! Especially when there are up to five enemies in that small space.

RER has two different gameplay modes: Campaign and Raid. Campaign is your standard singleplayer story, whilst Raid is where one or two players can fight their way through a selection of altered scenarios from Campaign mode. These will reward you with experience and battle points that can be exchanged for various weapons and items at a store. Gaining experience and acquiring new equipment allows progress to higher and more challenging scenarios.

There are twelve chapters in the campaign of RER, and I have to admit by chapter four I had played enough. Even though I was enjoying the story I was hating the controls and how sluggish they were. But it wasn’t all bad. There was a moment early on in RER with a human character who is slowly being overcome by the virus, so she still possessed human characteristics as she taunted and stalked your character. This section did unnerve me with its excellent sound design and feelings of claustrophobia.

But wait, as I mentioned in my opening, being a reviewer isn’t all it seems. I was so close to giving up on RER, but I don’t believe it’s fair to write a review based on such a small amount of game time, so I persevered and I started to enjoy this game. I got used to the clunky controls. I realised that each enemy had a weak point and I began to defeat them quicker. I realised that the Genesis device you are equipped with could be used to find extra hidden ammo as well as scanning enemies. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still not a great game, but it does have a good story and it mixes up the gameplay over the course of the twelve chapters to avoid making it a slog.

Graphically, the cutscenes really show the remastering process and are very pretty, and with most games of this ilk a lot of care and attention has been given to the female form, both in the cutscenes and in gameplay. If only the basic enemies had been given the same attention. Some of the base level enemies are just boring, and you don’t face them in combat with any feeling of dread, just annoyance. In fact, I would go as far as to say I am quite easily unnerved by horror games, and apart from the early encounter I previously mentioned, RER didn’t scare me at all.

Occasionally, you will have to defeat an end of level boss, some of which are fun to go up against, particularly where it takes you into different scenarios, such as on a mounted minigun in a helicopter. Others are dull and frustrating, and frequently lead to your character running out of ammo and resorting to melee attacks on huge monsters. RER also has missions which requires swimming and diving and these are also great ways to break up the standard gameplay, and these are designed well enough to make you feel claustrophobic and uncomfortable.

Story-wise, RER is extremely entertaining, even for someone like me who isn’t familiar with the events leading up to this game. Obviously I was familiar with the likes of Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield, but was obliviously unaware of the range of supporting characters and the agencies of which they belong to, such as the FBC and BSAA. It moves along at a good pace and swaps between characters and locations to prevent things from becoming dull and boring.

Overall, Resident Evil Revelations is an OK game. Fans of the series will probably love it, but the clunky, sluggish controls let it down. This is most demonstrated in the final boss fight, where, although the enemy attacks are telegraphed, the strike area is just too large and it’s impossible to get out of the way in time, which is hugely frustrating. Introducing a roll mechanic for these encounters would increase enjoyment (and my score)!

Thanks to Xbox and Capcom for supporting TiX

Prey review

Prey successfully melds science fiction and horror in a more contemporary and grounded setting that the original title from 2006. It therefore doesn’t feel at all related to its predecessor, posing question as to why it needed to use the name ‘Prey’. However, while its roots are muddy, the title that’s grown from them is wonderfully intense and intriguing, providing an experience that’s a bit familiar in places yet superbly polished.

The likeness to titles such as System Shock and Bioshock is hard to deny, with ‘mystery’ being its primary draw. You play as either a female of male Morgan Yu, waking up in your apartment and given the objective of heading to work. However, the reality of Yu’s situation is quickly challenged as something goes wrong behind the scenes, revealing Yu’s place of work to in fact be a space station in orbit around Earth, and Yu’s memory erased as an emergency protocol. Worse still, the station is infested by an alien organism known as Typhon, capable of shifting their appearance to look like everyday objects as well as sucking the life out of all living things. It’s a threat that must not be allowed to reach Earth, and despite your fractured memories, it’s up to you to figure out precisely what’s going on within the station and destroy the Typhon.

Your main objectives lead you through a well-paced and interesting story of discovery but the station is littered with side quests to further the lore. You’re free to switch between these objectives at will, with the space station open for you to explore, assuming you have the card keys, weapons and abilities to surpass the obstacles. It’s a metrovania style of free-roaming exploration that helps the environment feel more realistic and works to help satisfy your intrigue if the greater lore should grip you. Moreover, there are often multiple ways for you to conquer the obstacles in your way, whether that’s exploring and finding key cards to open otherwise locked doors, or using the neat collection of weapons to make a route – such as the Glu gun that creates clumps of solid matter to temporarily freeze enemies in place or create makeshift stairs to clamber on – or even using your abilities to hack and repair security nodes. It’s wonderfully open.

However, as much as exploration is encouraged by objectives, and required to progress, there’s an terrifically eerie personality to the station that does a tremendous job of putting you off. It’s a rare occasion of an environment looking lived in and mostly brightly lit, but the powerful sense of loneliness and the threat the Typhoon poses makes entering every room intense and frightening.

The spider-like Typhon, Mimics, can shifting into everyday objectives, fooling you into a false sense of security where a room looks harmless when in fact you’re surrounded. As you approach objects that are in fact Mimics, they shift back to their alien form and spring towards you. It makes you paranoid and puts you on edge, and with some superb scripted events in the early stages of the game, you’re quickly introduced to just how devious this enemy can be.

However, Yu does have a few tricks up his/her sleeve. The experiments you were a part of have granted you abilities which can be upgraded and expanded on through a skill tree. Additionally, new technical skills, health and stamina stats, and multiple other upgrades can be purchased and augmented with collectables. Eventually you can become a force to be reckoned with, although the further you commit to certain abilities the more you threaten your own humanity as the story progresses. It’s an interesting exploration of consequences that makes your play through a little more personal.

The use of limited stamina and inventory space adds a pleasant slice of survival horror to proceedings, enhanced considerably by the fast shifting and attacking of the Typhon as well as the wonderful use of music to intensify encounters. Running out of stamina and being unable to deal damage to the alien menace while being attacked does tread a thin line between frustrating and enhancing the horror. Meanwhile, the humanoid Typhon and human enemies require different tactics to overcome. It results in a clever set of combat encounters that force you to use a variety of different weapons and strategies to deal with the differing types and differing numbers you encounter.

A crafting feature allows you to create ammo, health and other items from machines strewn around the station. These machines use scrap and items you find, breaks them down into compound parts which can then be used to create whatever you please, assuming you have the blueprints. It means ammo and health are scarce, and improvising is encouraged. Environmental hazards can be used in combat to help even the odds, switching to different weapons is often necessary, and food items can be picked up and consumed to regain a little health and stamina. Mostly, this encourages you to avoid combat and run, enhancing the horror aspect to good effect.

Indeed, Prey does a great job delivering a smart FPS, survival horror hybrid with an intriguing setting and story. There’s some unfortunate technical limitations that can lead to some occasional frame rate issues and some long loading times between areas, but the journey of discovery and combat against the Typhon aliens aboard the space station is a highly satisfying, intense and rewarding experience. It’s a reboot that strays considerable from the original vision but successfully builds something new from the ashes of the Prey IP.

Thanks to Xbox and Bethesda for supporting TiX

Prey Opening Hour trailer released

The highly anticipated reboot of Prey is due out in a mere few days, May 5, and to whet your appetite that little bit more is a new trailer.

The trailer promotes the Opening Hour demo, available now on Xbox One. This will allow you to check out the first hour (or more, depending on how you play) of Morgan Yu’s first day on the job. Before Prey’s May 5 release, kick off your journey through Talos I and fight the alien invasion that’s threatening all of humanity.

Uncanny Valley review

In the interest of being transparent and honest I want to start this review by saying it is possibly going to be the shortest one I’ve ever done and also possibly the shortest on TiX. The reasons for this aren’t because I’m lazy or just rushing, it’s for the fact that Uncanny Valley is best played when you know as little as possible about the game. That comes direct from the developers, not me. I will mainly give you an idea of what the game is about and what it’s like to play, We’re not in the business of spoilers here at TiX so I would probably recommend you don’t watch the below video either.

Developers Cowardly Creations have tried to create a well rounded, spooky experience for the player and to be honest they’ve done an average job of it. You play as a newly recruited security guard taking it in turns with a rather large colleague to watch over the facility. Initially you get a spend your shift exploring the building and snooping at emails etc, but only for 7 minutes at a time. Once your shift is over you can either continue to explore or go home, if you stay you will inevitably collapse with exhaustion forcing you to return to your bed. In between the sleep and shifts there are some largely unexplained nightmare sections that seem to be only there to give your heart rate a bit of a jump, I’ll say no more on that.

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The atmosphere is set by the tones of the soundtrack, which at times I think is a nod to some late 80’s horror films, and that’s not a bad thing. Things do change however once you’re up against what I will describe as, the things that can hurt you. If you are injured in anyway this will have a direct effect on your chances of progressing for example, if you break your leg then your movement speed will suffer. If you break your arm you might aswell start all over again because you won’t be able to move heavy objects and in some cases progress. There are multiple endings to the game and right at the start it says multiple play through’s are recommended. I can’t help but think this is a ploy to replay what is in fact a short game at around 2 hours in total.

Uncanny Valley

The pixelated graphics don’t hinder you much but sometimes it’s hard to make out what an object actually is, if it wasn’t for items being highlighted when you’re close it would be easy to walk straight past them. I do feel however that Uncanny Valley would have benefited from being a episodic adventure, unraveling the mysteries as you go. For now however it looks as though we got all of what was on offer. It does seem that often you end up in a place with no explanantion or meaning and to add to the confusion no explanation to what is actually happening. That being said Uncanny Valley is definitely worth at least one play through just to experience a retro, atmospheric, 2 hour sink hole. Overall it’s fair to say not a bad effort from Cowardly Creation but I do feel that a few bad experiences from other players and limited positive reviews could spell the end of Uncanny Valley, which is a shame.

Uncanny Valley

I will leave this review with a literal translation as to what Uncanny Valley actually means:

used in reference to the phenomenon whereby a computer-generated figure or humanoid robot bearing a near-identical resemblance to a human being arouses a sense of unease or revulsion in the person viewing it.”

Overall I quite liked the simplicity of the game. The lack of spoilers out there also added to the mystery of what Uncanny Valley is about. To put it bluntly sometimes less is more but in the case of Uncanny Valley less wasn’t enough. Worth a playthrough but not multiple attempts (wait for the price to drop too).

Thanks to Cowardly Creations and Xbox for supporting TiX

Resident Evil 7 biohazard review

It was with some trepidation that I took on this review. I’m happy with a bit of horror action, but the thought of haplessly waltzing into the dilapidated Baker residence and exploring each dank corner all in first-person filled me with dread. I’ve played the teaser and had a taste of what to expect, and regardless of how damn great Resident Evil 7 biohazard looks, I really didn’t want to go back in there.

Upon receiving a video from his supposedly deceased wife, Ethan Winters can hardly ignore the remote possibility that Mia is still alive and travels to Louisiana to investigate the origin of the video, stumbling across the residence of the Baker family, who one day vanished into thin air… or so it seems.

The game begins similarly to the teaser and it’s just as tense, so much so that it’s exhausting to play. This persists for a good way into the game before it relaxes and the fear factor eases, only for it to ramp up again during the finale. As with most horror experiences, once the horror has been revealed and you begin to pick up more powerful weapons, your confidence grows, easing the feeling of dread. But don’t get too cocky; jump scares will still get you.

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The slow, and often, linear paths of the game are like you’re on a haunted house ride, waiting for the actors to jump out and grab you. Even when you’re expecting a scare, it doesn’t make it any less of a surprise and Resident Evil will trick you time and time again – it’s a wonderfully horrifyingly experience. But jump scares are the least of your worries. There are plenty of thumps and bumps that it’s impossible not to get wound up by the excellent sound engineering as it constantly torments you while you explore the Baker residence.

As you explore, each of the family takes turns at tormenting you, either chasing you down and engaging you in a bit of Alien Isolation hide and seek, which strikes a similar chord of tension, or with arena-based boss battles, which are really tough. Trial and error is the key to victory, the staple ‘pour lead into their brains’ just won’t do and it’s mostly down to using the environment, or picking your shots in order to put them down. These sequences are a wonderful contrast to the somewhat limited ‘zombie’ types, who stumble about like a drunken person looking for a fistfight, clawing at you should they grab hold.

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Unfortunately, ammo and health items are hardly scarce, although you have to look carefully to find them. As you get close to an item’s location it is highlighted. The hardest part wasn’t finding ammo or health but managing the inventory space. Those with a keen eye will rarely run out of ammo or health vials, which I found diminished the feeling of horror and hopelessness. I also found the numerous environmental puzzles somewhat of a disappointment, lacking in complexity. The most interesting puzzle was the birthday tape sequence, which had a wonderful but short narrative.

During the sequences where the family is hunting you, listen carefully and you can begin to piece together the bigger picture and make your own conclusions as to what is going on. Numerous files are also strewn about the Baker residence that bolsters the storyline. By the time the ending is revealed, all the pieces fit together neatly, but not everything is explained and while the finale wraps things up nicely, I had a few unanswered questions. Rather than call them plot holes, I believe Capcom have cleverly placed them there for those curious enough to question the story. Let’s hope some of these ‘holes’ are plugged with upcoming DLC, the first of which is dropping for free.

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Aside from the various files, completionists will want to find the numerous collectables hidden throughout the game. There are statues, which make a springing noise when you’re nearby, and collectible coins that unlock valuable abilities and a new weapon. Capcom have also included two endings, which while similar in gameplay, it’s good to see the return of multiple endings. For those brave enough, a harder difficulty unlocks upon completion of the game on normal, which messes with the locations of items, increases enemy difficulty, limits saves and removes checkpoints.

I thoroughly enjoyed Resident Evil 7. The action is gory. It’s in your face, and most of all it’s unsettling. As Ethan, a simple guy desperately looking for the love of his life, I felt like I had more of a connection with him, rather than some of the other characters I’ve played as in the series – not all of us have a background in the military.

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Over the years, the horror of the Resident Evil series has become rather diluted. Capcom has rewritten all of this with Resident Evil 7 biohazard. The game’s corridors are chilling and the enemies filled me with dread – and the puzzles… ok so they aren’t the most challenging, but they are steps towards the series’ former glory.

The game is extremely well-paced, punching somewhere between a (good) horror film and (decent) haunted house experience. It’s creepy from the offset and while the fear doesn’t last throughout the game, the tension ramps up and down perfectly, it’s one hell of a ride and one that I couldn’t wait to queue up and have another go on. Quite simply, Resident Evil 7 biohazard is the best in the series since the original trilogy.

Thanks to Xbox for supporting TiX

New story trailer for 2Dark

The creator of Alone in the Dark has been busy with another horror title, 2Dark, an unforgiving stealth-horror game in which even the save mechanic can apparently kill you.

Plagued by a string of child abductions, darkness hangs over the once-picturesque city of Gloomywood like a curse. Having seen his own wife slain and children taken, former detective Mr. Smith vows to find justice and bring an end to the misery.

From Frédérick Raynal, the creator of Alone in the Dark, 2Dark is a grim journey of stealth and courage into the heart of corruption.

You must use your cunning to infiltrate Gloomywood’s bastions of cruelty. Investigate to uncover the secrets of the deranged psychopaths within, seek retribution for their crimes, and bring the children to safety. If only it were so simple…

Developed by Gloomywood and published by Bigben Interactive, 2Dark offers a gritty and deceptively intricate new adventure of stealth and horror in which death is the only certainty.

– Perfect your plan to infiltrate intricately handcrafted levels and escape with the children.

– A nerve-wracking experience of ruthless consequences with only your wits to guide you.

– Stick to the shadows and step carefully. Light and sound can be your allies, and your undoing.

– Supplies are limited. From flashlight batteries to bullets, make every item count.

– Investigate every nook and cranny to expose the sinister secrets behind the abductions, uncover new areas, and find every child.

– Kids will be kids. Stop for too long and they’ll fidget and cry, putting both of you in harm’s way.

– Break for a smoke to save your progress, but be wary of noisy coughing fits, and remember, smoking really does kill.

Nevermind review

Nevermind provides an interesting and eerie opportunity to see into the minds of four very different individuals, and help them overcome trauma. It’s part walking simulator, part puzzler and part horror, although the latter largely puts you in a position of unease rather than fright. And the three gameplay elements meld together splendidly to create a unique and fascinating, albeit short, experience.

You are a psychologist who’s been newly hired at a very advanced medical facility. Here doctors don’t just talk and listen to their patients but also delve deep into their minds, thanks to technology that maps and then allows you to explore their subconscious as if you are really there. It’s a neat idea and one that opens up huge possibilities for story-telling, but in Nevermind it’s merely a framing device for some eerie and perspective shifting exploration and puzzle solving. That’s not to say it’s dull, far from it, but there’s a spark of Portal genius here that’s unfortunately not acted upon.

One thing that’s missing from the Xbox One version however, is the biofeedback element. This would take data from a variety of third-party biofeedback devices that are available right now, and the game would change depending on how stressed and fearful you were. It sounds a like a great concept, but one that isn’t realised for Xbox One. However, what’s here doesn’t feel like it’s missing anything, and it’s still a great experience.

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A tutorial level helps ease you into the experience, following the familiar tale of Hansel and Gretel, but before long you’ll be experiencing the subconscious minds of four patients who have suffered some kind of trauma in their lives. Whilst exploring their mind it’s up to you to find 10 photographs which represent key memories, five of which are false. In order to cure your patient you must gather these memories, figure out which ones are true, and put them in the correct order. Afterwards, you can revisit their mind to try and find other memories, which are important for you to understand their story fully.

For the most part you’re walking through locations that represent real locations in your patient’s lives. Much like a dream, these warp and change as you explore them, with doors leading directly to a completely new location or even back to one you’ve recently visited but having gone through a transformation. It’s cleverly designed, with things often changing drastically simply when you turn your back, featuring some powerful imagery that invokes myriad feelings and helps put your patient’s trauma into perspective. It’s a little bit scary too, with some excellent sound effects and music, sparing but deliberately used to bring locations and events to life. However, whilst it’s certainly looking to invoke an emotional response from you, it’s not looking to outright frighten you.

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It’s meant to be eerie but don’t expect any jump scares, instead it means to tap into your empathy and place you in the mind-set of the patient. And it works too; the framing device of delving into the minds of these people is immersive, making it feel like you really are exploring someone’s subconscious. Meanwhile, some terrifically detailed visuals with high quality textures, a wide colour palette, effective use of lighting, and the added sound effects, music and weird imagery, is remarkably effective at putting you in their shoes. As such, if you pay attention to what is being said and shown to you, figuring out the trauma and what’s a real and fake memory in the photos is fairly intuitive.

Jumping back into your patients minds to further explore and find those fragments of memories to allow you to fully understand them, are a little more abstract and far less gamified than the rest of the experience. It makes them tricky to find if you’re searching for them specifically, such as for achievements, but if you do come across them naturally, they enhance your familiarity with the patient quite effectively.

Nevermind 3

However, it’s not entirely smooth sailing through the minds of your patients, some slow-down kicks in frequently as you’re looking around, making the controls suddenly sluggish. There are occasions where this is done intentionally, such as puzzle sections or to help invoke a feeling related to your patient’s trauma, but when it happens outside of these moments it threatens to break the immersion. Fortunately, as frequent as it is, the overall experience isn’t hurt by it, it just feels odd when it does happen.

Indeed, Nevermind is a clever, revealing and fascinating exploration of mental health. The characters that make up your patients are believable and brilliantly voice acted, the locations and puzzles you explore are crafted to represent and encapsulate the trauma of the patients splendidly, and figuring it out and experiencing perspectives that you might not have otherwise experienced is highly satisfying and intriguing. There’s certainly a ‘what if’ niggling disappointment at how much more this kind of concept could be explored if narrative was more what the developers wanted to focus on, but that’s not what Nevermind is about, and what it does focus on is very well-crafted.

Thanks to Xbox and Flying Mollusk for supporting TiX