The rise of “Escape Rooms” in the UK is nearing fever pitch – every town and city has a least one and I can guarantee I have been to that town or city to try it! For those of you who don’t know what an Escape Room is – the basic concept is to be locked in a room for 60 minutes on the clock to escape by solving puzzles and unlocking many different locks, usually with some form of narrative to keeps things interesting. Sound fun? Then how would a game with a similar concept fare?
I know Point and Click adventure games have been around a lot longer than Escape Rooms have and even True Fear: Forsaken Souls doesn’t necessarily list itself as an escape room game, it’s just this is what I thought when reading the game concept – it’s like an escape room! Though Point and Click games have never really appealed to me, True Fear did.
The story is set with Holly receiving a letter at midnight (as you do) from a sister telling Holly to come back to the family home. Problem is, Holly hasn’t heard from her sister in years. And she got the letter at midnight…
Que creepy horror house, Ring-esque long haired girl stalking you and lots and lots of puzzles.
Now I mentioned the escape room reference as I thought because I have done so many escape rooms I could easily solve a few puzzles in the game – but didn’t realise just how easy it would be. I naturally picked the middle setting on the difficulty (maybe I should have gone for the more difficult) and found the game to be a breeze. You can ask for Hints from a lovely little doll in the bottom right of the screen who will point out where you need to be – though I found myself rarely needing to.
First thing I noticed about True Fear is the poor graphics. Now, graphics do not need to be pretty for me to enjoy a game. However, True Fear doesn’t look great at all – cut scenes are very shaky, Holly herself looks like a Poundland version of Barbie and able to show half of the emotion on her face. Her movements are slow and look awkward no matter what she is doing & generally the colouring looks dull. The game was made in Unity – a development software that I have come to love and know many a games that look beautiful because of it. True Fear does not!
The main screens in True Fear are static canvasses of different rooms / areas. As a point and click adventure, you must guide Holly to inspect the environment, gaining items, codes and keys to unlock different parts in the game. And this brings me to my second gripe – controls are dire. Inspecting each item is like trudging through treacle – the circular icon to hover over items moves far too slow. It can make inspecting small items or any items for that matter an absolute pain – something that you do not need in a point and click game designed around inspecting little parts & items!
I won’t spoil any of the puzzles, but I will say some are quite clever and require Holly to either find missing parts, solve a moving puzzle some how or generally find missing items. That being said, the majority of puzzles require so much going back and forth between rooms it becomes a total bore. Luckily, you can switch easily between rooms by pressing R2 but I don’t want to have to trudge back and forth 4 or 5 or even 6 or 7 times in some rooms – it’s sooooooooooo boring.
The story is complete pish – relying heavily on every single horror cliché there is. “Scares” in the game rely on “jumpy” moments that are too juddery thanks to the poor graphics and are too obvious anyway to invoke any sense of fear. It’s so so so bad!
Music and sounds are just average – I don’t have anything to comment on other than the fact there is some sounds & music. Though, music will suddenly play and stop at different points as opposed to be being used to build tension & fear.
The only really good thing I can say for True Fear is the fact that it’s short. I completed the game within a few hours (again not sure if this is because of my escape room puzzle solving experience) with 3 equally dire acts and one “bonus” act that will take you less than an hour to finish.
The only way True Fear: Forsaken Souls Part 1, is anything like it’s name is just how scarily bad it is. It speaks volumes that the only good thing about the entire game is that it’s a short game to play – is not good! Though there is supposedly a Part 2 and a Part 3 – which I am pleased to not discovering anytime soon.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.