Publisher: Atlus (PS4); Guy Studios (PC)
Developer: Zombie Studios
Genre: Horror//Survival, Horror
Platforms: PlayStation 4 (Reviewed); Windows
Release Date: April 29, 2014
Suddenly finding herself in an abandoned hospital, protagonist Sarah is lead by a mysterious voice with just her cell phone to assist her. Using her phone’s torch and map functions, she must explore the haunted hospital to try and escape, all the while learning about its horrible history.
The gameplay is very simplistic. The user has no weapons, and the only tools outside of her phone are glowsticks and flares. The hospital is also procedurally generated, meaning each room is different and random. The aim is to search for notes and logs from the hospital’s past by looking for markings using the glow sticks.
Players may face conflict in the form of shadow people. The shadow people are attracted by a mark on the Sarah’s arm that appears whenever the player discovers any markings. The player must use flares to fend off the shadow people, or try to lose them down the randomly generated corridors. Discovering all the clues, or “remnants”, results in the player acquiring a sigil–an item relating to the hospital’s past. Obtaining it will enable the player to progress to the next section of the hospital.
It’s a simple game, but the graphics and physics can make the game dull, rather than tense. The atmosphere may sometimes be tense, but it often grates more than anything when trying to search around. Moreover, the tutorial is unhelpful, and can make understanding the game difficult at the start which may make players lose interest early into the game.
Fortunately, the saving grace is the soundtrack. It’s consistently eerie and keeps the player engaged. It can help provide a jump or two, which a horror game should be able to provide when something unexpected happens.
Sadly, it’s rare for the game to provide even that.