2014 is the year when survival horror comes back to haunt our dreams to make us respect it once again. The times where horror wasn’t about zombies, but about being in a claustrophobic and dark environment would get you scared to your bones is here, and it doesn’t even need those closed scenarios in order to have this effect on you.
DreadOut can be one of the best examples of how horror is coming back from the ashes and growing once again. Developed by Digital Happiness, DeadOut puts you in a quite strange situation: you’ll take on Linda, a high-school student who suddenly wakes up in a place she had never seen before, just to get to know that horrors await for her, and her only weapon: the camera on her smartphone.
Remember the old day of hunting spirits down by taking pictures of them (Fatal Frame)? Well, those times are back, as Linda will be defeating these spirits and solving puzzles with only the help of her phone.
Never believe what your eyes show you — that’s what you’ll learn from DreadOut. Your camera will be the only thing that can show you the reality; spirits can hide from the human eye, but not from technology — or so it seems. Whenever you see a weird hallway, or you feel like you’re being watched, you better take out your phone and look through its camera, because someone could be stalking you in the dark.
I played a little over an hour of DreadOut, and I was pleased with the result of Digital Happiness’ work. As soon as the game started, I was completely immersed in it. It may have helped that the game is mainly in third-person view and changes to first-person only when you are going to see through your phone’s camera. It may have been the fact that there is basically no UI at all: it’s just Linda, who is holding her phone with her right hand. It’s worth mentioning that the phone’s camera is always on, meaning that even when you are on third-person view, you can see through it (if your computer allows you to, of course!), that way you can be ready to take a picture of the spirits that want to take your soul.
DreadOut is full of puzzles that will keep you thinking about your next step quite often. If you get stuck, don’t worry, the game will give you clues to let you know that you’re on the right path.
When you’re in danger, the borders of the screen will start turning red, so when this happens, you know that you have to get your camera ready to take a photo of the spirit(s) nearby. While taking away the surprise of spirits jumping on you and causing a jump-scare is kind of a downer, it’s quite useful because you normally won’t hear them coming, and without this feature, you’d die without even noticing that there was an enemy nearby.
When it comes to you getting closer to where the solution of the puzzle is, the borders will turn grey, almost as if it’s freezing. Given how there is pretty much no explanation of anything besides the controls, you don’t really have any idea what is going on when these changes happen, or at least, I had no idea what was going on, which certainly helps with the immersion of the game.
If you’re a horror enthusiast that loved and followed the whole Fatal Frame saga, you might want to take a look at DreadOut. With beautifully created environments that will keep you alert on every corner, a fully immersive story, and some really creepy creatures, it promises to be one of the top horror games of the year.
DreadOut is set to release through Steam on May 15.