Oof. This game is such a mixed bag. It does a few things really, really well. But when the game forced my attention away from the parts I enjoyed (which it did frequently), I found a game that made me ugly cry at how much I hated it.
The story is split between two protagonists. The first character the player is introduced to, Adam, is a federal agent during the Cold War. I didn’t expect to like this timeline as much as I did, but the way the story explored themes of paranoia was seriously engaging. My time playing as Adam was a total mindfuck – in a good way, that is. Besides the constant code cracking in his chapters, the game actively encourages the player to distrust every character and, by extension, my own perception of what was happening in the story. Every chapter featuring Adam had me at the edge of my seat, anxious to find out what happened next.
And then there is Nicolas’ storyline. With the 19th century setting and the inclusion of actual spooky monsters, I thought his chapters were going to be absolute bangers. I was wrong. Very wrong. I found myself plowing through his story as quickly as I could so that I could get back to Adam’s story. But rushing through these chapters proved to be difficult because, like “Song of Horror”, the developers decided to rely on instant deaths as the vehicle to deliver scares. To me, instant death is not scary, only frustrating. Another frustrating aspect is that the game isn’t consistent with the mechanics. Some ghosts will kill you as soon as they touch you – but some ghosts will only harm you and allow you to recover. And which one does what doesn’t seem to make much sense: a boss toward the beginning of the game only hurts you, but some random, nameless ghost toward the end of the game kills you if you wander into the same postal code it occupies.
But that frustration is minor compared to my biggest issue with this game: the story. I know I was singing praises for Adam’s chapters earlier in this review, but by the time the game comes to a close, even his storyline completely unravels. It could be that I missed something because I was too busy spitting out chunks of my teeth after clenching my jaw at the last Nicolas chapter, but the amount of loose ends left when the credits started to roll left me feeling dissatisfied. No, dissatisfied doesn’t do the feeling justice. I felt robbed. The twelve hours I spent playing this are twelve hours I will never get back. As it turns out though, I only got one of four possible endings… Maybe one of the other three concludes the game in a more satisfying way.
But there is no way in hell that I’m playing this game three more times to find out.