As adults, we are encouraged not to fear irrational things. Society doesn’t have the time or the patience to put up with inane and childish emotions. Spiders, snakes, clowns, and heights are to name but a few, and usually they are met with jeers of “man up” and “get on with it”. For the people who suffer, these are life changing and debilitating feelings. I despise clowns, and the idea of them doesn’t bring a smile to my face, or laughter. It sends a shiver down my spine. In my latest review title Those who Remain you will understand how scary these fears are. Darkness will be your new worst enemy and stepping out of the light will end your life.
Developed by Camel 101 and published by Wired Productions this adventure puzzle game will have you reaching for a spare pair of pants, as fear and shocks are all but guaranteed. You are Edward, the man with the perfect life. A beautiful wife, an adorable daughter. Yet, it’s not enough. Edward risks it all by having a secret affair. The man is an idiot, and his conscience gets the better of him. He decides that he must meet his mistress to call off this sordid affair before it’s too late. This psychological thriller adventure is set in the small yet creepy town of Dormont. The story starts with Edward driving to the local motel to meet Diane. He must end this relationship, as his marriage depends on it.
As soon as you finish the opening cinematic, you know that something isn’t right. The town is deserted, no staff, and no one is answering their phones, it’s only you and the lonely night. This is how it is from now on. You must work on your own, finding clues, and solve the puzzles in front of you. I quickly realised that Edward is a man wracked with guilt, he’s let his family down. His own actions have led him to this situation, and he alone is the key to escape this hell that he is now experiencing.
The premise of Those who Remain is simple, stay within the light, solve the puzzles, and try to unravel the mystery. The world around you is a dark and scary place, where beams of light act as your salvation. Eerie figures lurk stationary in the shadows, they hold knives and axes, and one step into the dark proves fatal. Their piercing blue eyes stare blankly in your direction. Frankly, it was one of the most unnerving gaming experiences I’ve ever had. You search the area you are in, and you are always looking over your shoulder waiting for something to jump out at you. It was tiresome, scary, and brilliant. A classic horror setting where you play the protagonist.
As you wander around the world, you will see icons appear before your eyes. These highlight when there is a point of interest, or an item you can interact with. As you attempt to complete any action Edward will provide you with a running commentary. If more needs to be done to solve a puzzle, clues are provided to help you resolve the issue. Like The Great Beyond puzzles will need to be solved in different time zones to proceed. In Those who Remain a doorway with a bright white light allows you to jump dimensions. When you cross over, you must overcome any challenges, and return to the present so you can proceed. I loved this game mechanism, as it kept me on my toes, and made me think outside of the box.
Now you are probably thinking, “If its darkness that they fear, grab a torch, and be done with it!” I thought that myself, as it seemed silly that you wouldn’t try the simplest solution. However, with no torch in sight, you have to put up with a Zippo lighter to guide your way through the darkness. It was unfortunately a poor light source, and would fail all the time. The light would fade, and darkness would envelop you. The shadow demons hunt you down, and that’s game over. You are then forced to reload the last checkpoint and rethink your approach.
In a game where millimetres matter, you’d think the developers would have designed an accurate control setup. Unfortunately, they haven’t! It is refined enough to make it easy to understand, yet its cumbersome. Looking around feels like you are turning through treacle. Light switches are usually on the edge of a light source. You tip toe to it hoping that you don’t cross into the darkness. It was slow and painful. Though it was annoying that the controls weren’t as responsive as I’d like, I got used to them. What I didn’t understand was the lack of crouching, crawling, or any stealthy approach. When you face the large demon boss, you’ll understand why it would have been helpful. I don’t want to ruin the surprise for you, but I guarantee you’ll be thinking, “Oh, come on, this is ridiculous!” Let’s leave it on this statement, the checkpoints become your best friend at this point.
Using dark and light creates an eerie and suspense filled atmosphere. It creates a brilliant mix of curiosity and fear. The ever present eyes that mark out the playing area are guaranteed to send shivers down your spine. I hated it and loved it in equal measures. I didn’t hate it because I disliked it, I hated it as it put me on edge the whole time I played. The use of tone and colour palette was fantastic, but the graphics themselves are a little dated. They are rough around the edges and don’t give the title a modern day aesthetic. They were good for an indie title, but not the best I have seen.
What I loved was the audio. There was very little in the way of music, but the sound effects were great. Pouring down rain, howling winds, and branches crashing. Your footsteps echoing around the vast empty landscape emphasised your lonely existence. It was simple, yet it worked very well. The acting that narrated the story and show Edwards inner thoughts were well delivered. I should have despised him for what he had done to his family, but I warmed to him as the night wore on. His voice was warm and sincere, he’s merely a man who has made a mistake. This nightmare he finds himself in will be his redemption, if he can escape that is.
The game opens telling you that Edwards decisions will influence the story. Depending on how you approach a situation, it will change the outcome of the plot. Brilliant, I thought, multiple endings to be had, so if I love the game I can play it again to see how things differ. Can you imagine my surprise when I played it twice, selected different options, and it had the same ending. I was confused to say the least, I now don’t know if I had made an error, or if there aren’t different endings as implied. Once bitten and twice shy, I’m not playing it again to find out, as I don’t have enough spare pants to try it even if I wanted to. Each run takes approximately 6 hours to finish, though this can be reduced on your second go. At around £15 this is good value for money.
Those who Remain is a dark, scary, and eerie psychological adventure that will keep you on edge throughout. I thoroughly enjoyed my time playing it, even with its few shortcomings. Do I recommend that you play this? Yes, I do! From the opening to the closing scene you will be creeped out and have your puzzle solving skills tested. All you have to remember is to stay in the light, no matter the cost. Can you help Edward solve the mystery in Dormont? Of course you can!
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox One code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Those Who Remain Review
Gameplay - 6/10
Graphics - 6/10
Sound - 8/10
Replay Value - 7/10
User Review( votes)
A dark and eerie psychological adventure awaits you around the sleepy town of Dormont. Can you help Edward to solve the problems, and survive the night?
- Fantastic atmospheric audio.
- Excellent acting for voice-over.
- A brilliant use of colour and tone to create a horror environment.
- Multiple endings implied, this increases replay value.
- Good value for money.
- The graphics are a little dated.
- The controls are cumbersome.
- The lack of a stealth mechanic was odd.