Good horror films get beneath your pores and skin, creating unsettling feels that linger lengthy after you’ve left the theater or turned off the TV. The component of interactivity that video video games supply can elevate these sensations even additional. Knowing that the hero’s destiny rests solely in your actions is a far cry from helplessly watching them get stalked by a killer and shouting at them to not go in that room. Song of Horror is an ode to traditional survival horror that faucets into what makes the style resonate with followers who wish to get in on the motion. There are a couple of bum notes right here and there, but it surely’s a tense little bit of storytelling value experiencing.
The “song” within the title refers to a bit of cursed music that purportedly drives its listeners to insanity – and alarming acts of violence. Over the course of 5 episodes, writer Daniel Noyer and a rotating solid of characters investigates the disappearance of a globe-trotting writer who was researching the mysterious tune. This is certainly an expertise within the fashion of old-school Resident Evil, all the way down to the fastened digicam angles and bizarrely conceived puzzles. A few lingering points are robust to keep away from, similar to how the shifting views make navigating a few of the tighter interiors tougher, however they often don’t get in the way in which. That’s essential, contemplating the stakes.
Players journey to a wide range of standard-issue horror setpieces, together with mansions and deserted hospitals, however there’s a ghoulish twist: Characters can die, and as soon as they’re out of the sport, they’re completely gone. That easy selection elevates the motion, making me paranoid that each door I opened or hallway I crept down is likely to be my final.
You can select to play with or with out permadeath, however you do your self a disservice by opting out. Each episode introduces new characters, so for those who unintentionally cull a couple of characters out of your investigation, you aren’t utterly out of luck. Even so, I felt terrible every time an investigator died. In one memorable (and utterly avoidable) demise, I made my character sneak out of a second-floor window with out double-checking whether or not scaffolding was in place. Another time, I efficiently slammed a door shut on a monstrous presence, after which instantly walked out that very same door. Deaths don’t simply take away characters from the roster; generally they arrive again in sudden methods, main to a couple of my favourite moments.
Each episode strikes the investigation to a brand new location, however a relentless malevolent drive follows you. People who’ve been uncovered to the music are tormented by shadowy creatures that embrace an entity referred to as the Presence, and it’s the principle supply of the sport’s myriad scares. This monstrous entity gives the look that you simply’re always being stalked. I rapidly discovered to pay attention to each door earlier than opening it and braced for the subsequent jump-scare that felt like a dreaded inevitability. The pacing is nice, with lengthy stretches of nothing interspersed with moments of on the spot panic. You’re by no means actually sure what’s across the nook, and Song of Horror capitalizes on that feeling of not understanding what’s subsequent – and even what’s and isn’t doable.
In true survival-horror trend, your characters aren’t action-movie heroes. When the Presence comes knocking, all you are able to do it quickly stave it off. There are a couple of other ways to try this, similar to beating again greedy fingers as they attempt to drive a door open, in a frantic minigame that by no means actually misplaced its effectiveness. Other interactions, similar to getting right into a hiding place and attempting to maintain your heartbeat slowed, had been equally efficient at pulling me into the horror, although its insistence on going for a second leap scare every time was a bit a lot. My most tense interplay was one the place a blind monster did its finest to smell me out, and I wanted to stay undetected by controlling my respiratory. It was largely tense as a result of the directions had been obscure, and each error I made drew the creature nearer and nearer to killing off a personality who I’d grown to understand.
With a couple of exceptions, the puzzles are much less murky. They contain numerous merchandise gathering and multistep object manipulation, however options made sense general as soon as I calibrated myself to the peculiar logic. Clues are hidden all through every stage, too, which gave me an additional incentive to open each drawer and browse each file. Even if an merchandise or object wasn’t helpful, it was fascinating to learn every characters’ ideas on it. For occasion, alarm installer Alina Ramos would possibly see an array of masks and touch upon how they remind her of the village the place she’s from, whereas gross sales supervisor Etienne Bertrand would possibly merely shudder at their unusual designs. They’re not make-or-break moments, however they assist humanize and differentiate the solid.
Some of one of the best puzzles within the sport incorporate the Presence in some kind or one other. In one episode, I spent a couple of hours monitoring down substances to concoct a luminol answer. What adopted was a tense chase sequence, the place I sprayed the answer in a darkened maze to see the telltale glow that indicated the presence of blood. All the whereas, I used to be being hunted. It was a heart-pounding expertise that made me really feel an incredible sense of reduction once I finally discovered what I used to be on the lookout for. Not simply reduction that it was over so I might simply maintain going forward, however that I managed to outlive within the first place.
Song of Horror’s manufacturing values initially turned me off, with poorly animated characters and terrible voice appearing. Despite these flaws, I had a tough time placing the sport down as soon as I used to be drawn into its world. The quirks even grew on me, the identical approach I embrace schlocky low-budget horror films. What I most admire about Song of Horrors is that it doesn’t simply mimic what got here earlier than. It’s clearly a tune impressed by different survival-horror classics, but it surely has its personal distinctive tempo and melody. And it’s a darkly catchy one, as well.