This is one of those games that… wow. When you think of “games as art” this is definitely one that should be on the list: the change between cramped claustrophobic quarters to expansive rooms, the simple art style that can convey so much information, the fluidity of movement of every character, and most importantly the way it can tell such a deep story with such basic elements.
A very deep, very confusing story. Seriously, even if I wanted to write a spoiler review there is no way I could do that. This game is… it’s messed up.
You play a nameless faceless boy running through the forest, hiding behind stumps while trying to avoid a search party out looking for him. It’s shocking from jump because there are a bunch of dudes, armed with rifles that fire tranq darts and hey real bullets because why not, and attack dogs. Clearly something is up with this kid. The weird part is, that he’s not trying to get away – he’s trying to break INSIDE this facility. Get it? I think that’s the point right? But really WHO KNOWS BECAUSE GAH WHAT JUST HAPPENED??
Immediately you are pushed into this expansive complex after breaking through their walls, barbed wire, and attack pigs. Yeah you heard me. This is not the weirdest thing you are going to experience, so just hold the hell on.
Inside the buildings you run into more guards, more dogs, weird creatures, mind control, telepathy, submarines, and… let’s just say that they clearly consulted David Cronenberg for certain levels. I mean… Jesus.
This is a horror game in the sense of the movies Se7en and Misery. The fear is from the story, from the environment, from the ambience that the whole thing provides. The suspense is not knowing what the hell is coming next, but also not being able to stop playing. There are no jump scares, no slavering beats… the fear is simply the unknown. The grey washed out color scheme, but featuring a little kid in a red shirt. The faceless adults going about their business, lining people up and loading them into cages.
The light, as it grows dim the deeper you dive into the murky waters, until there is simply nothing left but your faint silhouette.
Ultimately the game conveys the story of a boy who is completely, inextricably alone but is pushed further and further into this weird… Aperture Science type place.
Rating: Stayed up 2 out 5 five hours past bed time. One of those lying awake in the dark, staring at the ceiling, filled with creeping existential dread.
Go play this right now.
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