This is my first playthrough. I haven't played any horror games recently but one of my favorites is Clive Barkers Undying mainly due to the excellent sound in that game.The closest thing I can compare this game to is Home on the iPad which was very atmospheric but ultimately I didn't like because nothing really happened.
I really like the look of this game. The art style is really unique. In the first stages the game does a good job of being creepy and there is a great sense of foreboding, even something simple like going into a darkened room becomes scary. However as the game progresses into the later stages and you become more familiar with the mechanics some of the atmosphere is lost although the game does retain this creepy feeling throughout.
Initial impressions were that it was a little short and well a little disappointing but my feeling improved somewhat upon playing through all the chapters.
First problem is the wardrobe/baby monster mechanic is not interesting IMO.The initial section is not challenging and I feel that it also removes fear of the monster as you see it so much pacing back and forth and it is unlikely to kill you.The design of the monster is kinda goofy as well, it might have been better if it wasn't so detailed or if its features were warped somehow. The wardrobe should not be a safe place and when you least expect it the monster should grab you out of the wardrobe and kill you (essentially turning this encounter into a nightmare and restarting with you in the bed).
I did not get killed by the monster in my first playthrough, only in one of the branching paths.The lunatics in the insane asylum were a little creepier and they did kill me a few times. There was also a wardrobe with no purpose in one of the branching paths, i'm guessing because you removed one of these monsters. I would suggest removing the wardrobe as well.
A number of the jump scares in the game are very predictable and I could see them coming, i.e. seeing a substantial crack in the wall means I guessed a baby monster would burst through etc. Some remain effective despite this, I guess that's the nature of the jump scare.
I ended up getting the Destroyed Dreams ending first time around which was quite abrupt and I was surprised to see the the credits. I'm a little worried that most people (and maybe critics too!) will not bother unlocking the other branches. To be honest I did not particularly feel like replaying levels to find the branches either but decided to anyway. I replayed Childish Things but could not get to Wayward Dreamer despite trying some different paths in the forest. It was also a pain to play through the whole level again. You should give an option to continue from the forest area. In the end I gave up and consulted the forum to find the right sequence.
I found the way to Together at Last by myself but again it was not obvious and I almost chose to go down the hole again which would have been a big waste of time. Only by chance did I enter the door again. Again I think you should somehow make it more obvious what to do. In the end you want to make sure that as many people as possible play through the majority of your game and not make the location of the branching path arbitrary video game logic. I would suggest putting some blood on the handle of the door (on the second playthrough) or maybe a puddle of blood seeping underneath which would highlight that going through the door again is an option.
I think that Together at Last and The Final Descent are solid substantial levels and that they should be the default ending of the game. Destroyed Dreams would be better as an alternative branch. The Final Descent was very abstract with some interesting ideas, in fact it seemed more of what I expected out of the game. Nice touches e.g. I was wincing when Thomas had to walk over all that glass and the section when the lights went out was cool. I feel that there is more closure in the story with this ending as well.
Some smaller things I don't like. Unnecessary, repeating or redundant interactive objects such as the cell doors in the insane asylum and the various portraits hanging in the different areas. A lot of the cell doors give the same scene, only in one (that I could find) was there a jump scare so the player is not rewarded (by being scared) by interacting with the majority of these doors. I would remove the majority of repeated scenes and therefore only make some doors interactive. Also adding at least one other jump scare would be nice. The portraits which I assume are a backer reward (I can't remember) just seem intrusive and should not be highlighted. You could still zoom in on them if you want but they should not be a different color like if they are important to the story. There are also a lot of reused assets but I guess that can't be helped.
Also I would have liked to see more imagery like the teeth/bottle in the sink, meat grinder thing scattered throughout the different levels. The asylum (?) seemed like a bit of a missed opportunity in this regard as places like hydrotherapy, kitchen, showers all seem like intricately designed scenery with nothing interactive in them. The religious texts also seems like a missed opportunity to me, I don't speak Latin and I don't really feel like looking up the verses outside of the game. You could have highlighted some verses in blood and they could have transferred back and forth from English to Latin. Another option would be to translate the text in the subtitles.
Some possible ideas (low hanging fruit maybe? I have no idea how hard this would be to implement/code) are to make the cutscenes where Thomas is mutilating his hand interactive. This would mean having to press a button to initiate the cutscene or to actually complete it (i.e hold the button down to rip out the vein). Forcing the player to do this should be scarier/more traumatizing than simply having a passive cut scene.
Last thoughts were the game ran well (running on a low entry level budget Dell laptop with integrated graphics) with only a little bit of juddering which may be due to the low specs of my machine and looks very crisp.
Anyway sorry if this seems on the negative side and I guess most of it isn't going to be of any use at this stage. I can see now that creating a personal game such as this is very challenging especially keeping within this budget. I wish you all the best with this game and in the future.
Discussion of the game should go here. Let's keep the rest of the forum free from spoilers!
It definitely seems like your expectations for the game don't quite mesh with the game we are trying to make. Given that we are releasing in a few days, there is really nothing we can do about your feedback. I appreciate you taking the time to write all that up though, and I'm sorry to hear that you didn't really enjoy the game.
Lead Frightener at Infinitap Games
Lead Frightener at Infinitap Games