Watch our review of indie horror hit Those Who Remain!
Check out our review of indie horror title Those Who Remain. We’ll tell you everything you need to know before you play, and reveal why it could be the best horror game of the year so far!
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Hey how’s it going guys! Welcome to our review of Those Who Remain, available on PC, PS4 and Xbox One, with a Nintendo Switch port arriving later this year. We’ll tell you everything you need to know before you play, but before I do make sure to hit subscribe and the notification bell for reviews, interviews, features and more!
Those Who Remain is a horror title by indie developers Camel101, who impressively made the game with a core staff of just three people.
In it, you play as Edward, who on the surface is a very unsympathetic protagonist. We find him wallowing in self pity and the guilt of having an affair with a woman named Diane, his desk strewn with whiskey bottles and a gun. After you head to a motel to call it off with Diane, things start to get weird.
You find the motel seemingly abandoned, and upon entering Diane’s empty room, the phone rings, with a chilling voice on the other end warning you to ‘stay in the light’. And you’ll do well to heed this advice, as lurking in the shadows are ghostly figures with piercing blue eyes, ready to drag you to a violent death should you stray too far into the darkness.
It’s an ambitious, psychological thriller, with clear influence from the likes of Silent Hill and Alan Wake. But is it any good? Watch on to find out…
Firstly, it’s great to see that Those Who Remain focuses on ramping up tension, rather than relying on jump scares. For most of the game the malevolent shadow people are there in plain sight, but if anything this makes them more terrifying. It’s reminiscent of Michael Myers standing outside the window in Halloween, and it means it’s your doing if you accidentally fall into their clutches, this autonomy making it even more chilling. It augments the reasons why scary games often evoke a more visceral response than scary movies.
But because of the lack of gratuitous shock moments, some people have questioned whether this is really a horror title. But it most certainly is. Just as Silent Hill filled you with a sense of foreboding before it threw its heavy hitters at you, Those Who Remain deals out dread as much as pure fear. And I doubt even the bravest player will ever enter a room without immediately searching for the lightswitch again.
Beyond just the frights, it’s got a great audio visual style reminiscent of David Lynch’s weirder works. The musical score alone is enough to give you nightmares. I played this in the early hours of the morning and in the end I had to turn the music down, it was just that frightening. Much like Lynch and Stephen King, there’s a fascination with ‘50s Americana, which I really dig too. From the cars to neon-lit diners, it’s dripping with a spooky charm. I was even half expecting to see a road sign to Twin Peaks somewhere!
And much like everyone’s favourite logging town, things get very surreal very fast. You can enter a parallel world where everything appears similar to reality, but warped and distorted to make it even more unsettling. Think the Upside Down from Stranger Things. This parallel world is one of the ways the game introduces puzzles. Certain objects and areas won’t be accessible until you interact with them in the other plane of existence. For example, the physics of this netherrealm may make something heavy float, meaning you can easily move it out of the way to clear a path. The game definitely doesn’t hold your hand with these puzzles, and there’s a fair amount of trial and error at the start, but once you get to grips with the basic mechanics, you’ll be able to figure out what to do fairly easily.
Where the game really messes with your head is the way it tests your sense of morality. As you explore your way through the dreamlike world, you’ll occasionally be given difficult choices to make, such as whether to condemn a child to hellish damnation or forgive him (it’s a harder choice than you might expect). I found these decisions haunted me as much, if not more than the various monsters you encounter along the way. And these choices have consequences, resulting in one of three endings for the game.
But arguably the most impressive thing about this game is it’s play time. You can wrap up the story in about 5 hours, making it all the more stunning that it manages to ramp up the tension and frights in such a condensed experience. There’s certainly no filler here.
Stephen King has written multi-book chronicles like The Dark Tower series to critical acclaim, but I always preferred his shorter novellas for the way he managed to do so much with so little. If an expansive franchise like Resident Evil is a Dark Tower, Those Who Remain is the novella, and I think I prefer it for it.
To wrap up, Those Who Remain may very well be the best horror game of 2020 so far, and it’s not been a slow year for horror games by any stretch of the imagination. It’s creepy and haunting without resorting to cheap jumpscares, and puts you in uncomfortable positions that are more wince-inducing than any monster. The puzzles are satisfying, and I just really enjoyed the whole aesthetic, from the ethereal nature of the world to the twisted ‘50s vibe. If you’re looking for a quick, tasty bite of horror, I can’t recommend this game enough.
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