Platform reviewed on: Xbox One.
Also on: Playstation 4, PC, Playstation 3, Xbox 360.
As I was browsing Xbox store app one day, I saw this game and all its DLCs on sale at a very decent price. Prior to buying it, I did my research on the internet and i found out that it had mixed acceptance from critics and players. As you probably know, I am a huge survival horror fan so I decided to give it a shot.
Due to the 3 DLCs, there was a lot of content to sink my teeth (and potentially yours) into. You are Sebastian Castellanos, a detective whose life is in ruins; his wife and daughter died tragically. Now, the only company he has is a bottle of whiskey and the several cases he has to solve. One day, he and 2 other detectives have to answer an emergency call coming from a psychological hospital named Beacon.
As you would expect, things take a turn for the worse. The amount of this ”worse” though, is unbelievable. The game starts playing with your mind and you really cannot figure out what the hell is going on. Sole responsible person for this ”mess” is Shinji Mikami, the mastermind behind Resident Evil games. The only reason i am not putting a perfect score here, is because to fully understand everything and appreciate the whole effort from the developers, you are obliged to play the DLCs.
The graphics are very good, considering it is a game released in 2014. When the game evolves in dark environments, they are spectacular. The shadows and lightning are done pretty well and the grainy filter used reminded me of a true horror classic, Silent Hill 3. The enemies you face are gruesome monstrosities, with severed limbs, covered in blood and they want to eradicate Sebastian the moment he sets foot on the hospital. There are some generic enemies though that feel uninspired, like a boss later on that resembles a chameleon. There is a ton of graphic violence here thus making this game unsuitable for people under 18 years old.
The environments are the thing that will puzzle you the most since they are very varied. On one chapter you will play in a medieval village and on another inside a mansion. In general, they are brilliantly designed with tons of detail. I did not like that much the sequences that took place in broad daylight. I felt like playing Resident Evil 5 and i was not scared at all.
Furthermore, the game features two of the best designed antagonists I have seen in video games; a 4 armed dark haired girl with a tragic past and butcher with a safe on his head that hunts you with a giant sledge hammer and a bag full of heads and nails. However, the game has 2 flaws. The minor one is that some character models (not the main protagonists) feel dated. The major one is that the camera zooms in too much while aiming your weapon. It is impossible to aim properly at the early stages of the game. Also, stealth kills have the same repeated animation over and over again.
Sound design is very good. The voice acting of the main protagonists is pretty on spot and the screams of the monsters will keep you on the edge of your seat. Sound effects create a very frightening (to say the least) atmosphere. The gunshots give weight to your weapons and it feels like firing the real thing. Music helps maintain a stressful atmosphere further adding to the immersion.
The game plays like a 3rd person shooter and it is very interesting blend of horror, action and stealth. Ammunition is pretty scarce especially at first, meaning that you will have to sneak past enemies and dispose off them stealthily using your knife. When action heats up, apart from your dangerous foes you will have to face unfortunately the zoom of the camera as i said earlier. You will get used to it though.
In the game there is a level up system where you can assign points to develop different attributes and reinforce weapons. The stamina gauge is laughable unless developed; Sebastian behaves like a 100 year old smoker who cannot run for more than 2 seconds. There is a general clumsiness in the movement of your character, which however is perfectly acceptable for a survival horror game. There are a lot of tense moments here, like when you are chased by Laura or the Sadist and you cannot face them directly. You will slam every door in your way trying to find a way out. There are some puzzles but they do not require that much thinking to solve them. Some of them though, must be solved while chased by enemies. This is where your adrenaline will undoubtedly reach critical levels.
In 2 of the 3 total DLCs, you play as Kidman, Sebastian’s apprentice. The gameplay here will remind you of Metal Gear Solid, since you practically do not have any weapons in your possession. Kidman plays identically the same with Sebastian, but you cannot level up her attributes.
In the 3rd DLC, you play as the Safe Keeper. Here, the game becomes a 1st person action game. This character is extremely overpowered and you will surely seek revenge from the monsters you could not easily kill with Sebastian while playing the original game. Safe Keeper has also a leveling up system of his own as and he controls extremely well; in no time you will be smashing everything standing in your way with your giant hammer.
Value for Money:…9
For 15 Euros on Xbox Store Sales, i got compensated with 25+ hours of pure good old horror. The game, while not a masterpiece, will surely satisfy friends of the genre and could potentially help newcomers embrace Survival Horror. If you find it as a complete bundle with its DLCs, purchase it immediately.
P.S.: For some gameplay footage, click here.