While not one for horror games as such, I wanted to give Rise of Insanity a whirl as the pitch was a psychological horror – the worst kind (a good thing). Blood and guts don’t remotely scare me but the supernatural and ‘head stuff’ do, and anything that gets under my skin that takes the expressway to my imagination gland (it’s a thing), has me reaching for the lights and looking away from the screen without fail.
Imagine my surprise that I managed to sit through the experience and come out relatively unscathed in a timescale that felt like England in a penalty shootout (quick). It only took me a few hours to finish the game, but it felt much longer, and not due to the fear, but the monotony.
Rise of Insanity is quite meta as I found myself getting progressively angry that there wasn’t anything to do. The majority of the time, I was searching for rubber ducks because that was the only guaranteed interactive piece in the game that was reliable, interspersed with telephone calls that transport you to the next area. Even when you collect the ducks, while you can inspect them in 3D form, there is no point whatsoever. It doesn’t add to the story, and there aren’t any in-game achievements.
As a first-person puzzle type game, you navigate your character, a psychologist, as he pieces together… actually, he doesn’t do that – scrap that. The narrative mixes with flashback and dream sequences to tell the story of the murder of the protagonist’s wife and child. As you walk around his home, an apparent mansion that could have been a prototype for Resident Evil, you pick up notes, play back tapes on a dictaphone (look it up) and experience a few out-of-body experiences. Now, I’m not being cocky, but I worked out where the story was going in the opening minutes. It was a paint by numbers story and by the time I was at the conclusion, I was understandably ‘meh’.
The psychologist’s home is nicely rendered and looks good on the switch, as are the outside areas at night and sometimes in the daytime, but the gameplay relies on finding clues and using a handful of them to progress. For the majority of the time, I was backtracking; opening kitchen cupboards with nothing to interact with, reading notes that are easier to read as is. For example, you will find a handwritten note and can press Y to see the text, but it’s a wall of text that is all centred and unpleasant to read. The voice acting is fine, but to be honest, you can skip over most of the notes as they don’t add anything and most of the time, they are the same details as you backtrack here and there in the same place, at different times.
There were some moments where I genuinely jumped. I won’t ruin it for you if you decide to play this, or grandma thought this was the game you wanted, and you have to play it now, but they’re essentially jump scares. There’s nothing eerie about it, and anyone familiar with The Evil Within, Outlast or anything set within an asylum area will know what to expect. Well, I had hoped certain things would happen, but they don’t. In Rise of Insanity, the threat is quite inconsistent. Sometimes there will be a shadowy figure hovering about, then some paranormal experience, then bouts of nothing.
I can’t recall how many puzzles there are in the game, but there aren’t many. A handful of them don’t seem logical, and I had to go back over some of the notes I found, where others could be solved as fast as you saw the obvious hint. In regards to finding objects to solve the problems, you need to locate the item and go back to the puzzle to use it. There isn’t any inventory to access or for you to work out what goes where. A good thing really as one problem to solve involved using duct tape which didn’t seem the natural thing to do. As there was only the duct tape available, I went back to the same location and solved it.
As mentioned, the graphics aren’t bad at all; there’s just nothing to do. The areas are the house, the garden and a few other locations and you can only go one way. The garden in particular as a path with stones either side so you can’t cross it, the stairs will be blocked, or there will be police tape saying you can’t enter a room. For the entirety of the game, I sprinted. It’s not particularly fast, but it was better than walking back and forth each time.
In the early stages, I was a little bit on edge. As I said before, horror games aren’t always my thing, but I still enjoy them. The premise was ok, but once I got the gist, I ploughed forward as there wasn’t anything holding my attention in between segments. I did get caught out a couple of times though and because I let down my guard, there was one particular moment when I jumped out of my skin. It was a cheap trick, but effective nonetheless and made me feel something in the brief time I played Rise of Insanity.
Other than the main character, there are those dream sequences I mentioned and an ongoing theme of birds that doesn’t altogether tie-up. There are references why there are so many birds in the game, but it didn’t justify their presence. In one scene, you take over as one of these birds, a crow I believe, and fly through an underground tunnel with the most evident pop up I’ve seen since Out Run in the arcades. It didn’t have to be entirely explained as it was a dream sequence, and as David Lynch fan, I don’t need someone to point out the meanings in every scene. Unfortunately, the bulk of the game was void of any pull to be able to enjoy it.
I can see the decisions behind the story and can appreciate that a lot of work went into it, but as the end-user, I wasn’t impressed. Even if the narrative was spoiled because I guessed it, there wasn’t anything to hold my interest other than the completionist in me to finish the game, and attempt to give it a fair review, even if it is a negative one at that.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Rise of Insanity Review
Gameplay - 4/10
Graphics - 6/10
Sound - 5/10
Replay Value - 1/10
Any element of insanity related more to my patience levels and the fact that Rise of Insanity lacked any enjoyment on my part — a predictable story and over in a few hours. As you may surmise, I won’t be replaying it.
- Interior sequences are nicely rendered.
- A few genuinely scary moments.
- Over in a couple of hours.
- Lacks any enjoyment in terms of gameplay and story.
- Predictable story, without any surprises
Collect rubber ducks and Rorschach tests that have zero effect on gameplay or in-game achievements.