Platform: PC, Steam, Linux (Beta), Mac (Beta)
Reviewed on: Windows
Genre: Puzzle, Horror, Adventure
Players: Single player
Written by Whistler 21st May2014
2014 has been shaping up nicely for video games it seems, especially for indie titles with several games I either backed or seen in early development finally coming to fruition. One particular Indonesian title that has already gained a solid fanbase thanks to Youtubers like Pewdiepie, Raedwulf Gamer and Yogcast’s Kim; DreadOut developed by Digital Happiness, was discovered sometime early march 2013 where I instantly backed it and eagerly awaited its arrival.
DreadOut draws its influence mainly from various Indonesian folklore and bears a striking resemblance to Tecmo’s borderline legendary Project Zero series (or Fatal Frame for you Americans out there); the tale follows high school girl Linda and a small group of her fellow classmates when on a field trip stumble across an abandoned village which of course they decide to explore their latest find and hilarity ensues, by hilarity I mean nightfall, and death.
The game follows a very similar formula to Project Zero in that you explore the areas while looking for key items, solving puzzles and fending off against various ghosts and supernatural creatures via your smartphone with camera (which unlike my phone has amazing battery life). Much like in Project Zero, Linda’s camera is key to most of the mechanics of the game including combat and puzzle solving, though interestingly where DreadOut veers off the beaten path is that unlike her Japanese counterparts, Linda cannot naturally see these vengeful spirits. This actually adds a rather interesting depth of gameplay and indeed ups the ante, luckily Linda does react to nearby danger accompanied by a red vignette but until you view through your phone you are effectively blind to your unfriendly apparition.
However taking snaps of your enemies feels rather poor compared to Zero, you don’t charge your attack and you simply take snaps when your phone’s screen starts to act up however since the game tells you to look for weak points you can never be sure if you’re actually doing anything until the buggers have left you alone. This is a small gripe admittedly and does not harm the overall game, along with combat the camera is needed for puzzle solving; similar to the ghosts, certain puzzles or hints are not visible to the naked eye. While it hasn’t been incorporated too much in Act 1, how it was implemented was well done and when you finally figured a certain section out made it all the more rewarding.
Sadly though my biggest gripe with the game is the quality of the visuals, while Linda and her ghostly pals look very nice, the environments are very outdated for a game that had a demo back in early 2013 the visuals are somewhere or par with mid sixth gen graphics (PS2/Xbox/Gamecube). Textures are rather murky with several signs of very low res images used throughout and certain characters animate very awkwardly.
Now while some complain that the game is rather short (which I somewhat agree with), the game is currently presented in two halves where only Act 1 is currently available with roughly 3 hours for a singular playthrough which will probably require a second run just to grab all collectables and achievements seeing as the game promotes a healthy approach to exploring (seeing as you can miss a fair bit of content if you go too far early on). But considering 3 hours for half a game is pretty standard, so long as Act 2 (which will be given free to anyone who purchases the game) has a similar or longer length DreadOut proves to be a must play for horror fans and if you’re desperate to fulfil your thirst for more DreadOut you can always play the demo which is actually a nicely sized prologue.
Creative twist of already established game mechanics,
Promotes exploring off the beaten path,
Morbid Play is in it :P
Rather average story,
Little to no punishment for ‘death’,
A lot of empty spaces.
DreadOut’s 1st Act gets a 6.5 out of 10.