(31/31: Day 14) A Horror Game for Old School Horror Fans? - Paradigmthefallen Blog - www.GameInformer.com
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(31/31: Day 14) A Horror Game for Old School Horror Fans?

Are you a fan of horror games? Do you wish for the old days Resident Evil and Silent Hill, where all the mechanics basically were there to be ineffective, frustrating, and make you feel pathetic, mostly because those designers were either really good or really bad at their jobs? Well, have I got a game for you**. A game so bad, somehow, it's kind of good, and some manages to actually get me jumpy at times.


This is Marcin. He will make you miss your Cousin Roman. And he is so hungry he'll state it for no reason.

To say Afterfall is a bit nontraditional is an understatement. You'll spend the majority of your first hour or so just... walking and "running" all over the place, being a strangely disenfranchised psychiatrist/pharmacologist/biologist/psychologist (I kid you not). Our hero... Tajed? Tadej? I honestly can't remember because even by Polish standards, some of these names are just ridiculous. I can't really name the antagonist other than as "the Colonel", which interestingly enough is what everyone else calls him after his name gets dropped maybe twice. You have your friend Marcin... who has no validity in the plot beyond being potentially more odd than our hero, and your girlfriend (wife?) Karolina who barely gets any development (as of this writing at least -- this is a progressive review as with Tomb Raider). There are a bunch of other side characters that get barely a passing mention, but so far they seem to have had no impact whatsoever on the plot beyond giving you a reason to go certain places.

Let me make this very clear, you aren't playing this game for the plot or the story. There is no valuable narrative within the halls of Bunker "Glory", nor are any of the voice actors giving a crap. Most of them sound like they were members of the dev team, which is understandable for an indie game, but not advisable for a game that seems so sure it's got a great story to tell. Cutscenes are badly directed and voice acting in general just feels like everyone is tone deaf. The lead character is the worst, with some of the worst emotional range I've ever had the displeasure of hearing. It feels less like he's trying to act, and more like he's just reading the script to an actual trained actor. Maybe the acting is better in the native Polish language, but that's no excuse. A story should hold up no matter the language.

The overarching narrative isn't that interesting either. I won't spoil it for those of you who enjoy awful twists, but lets just put it this way -- not every game should try to be Spec Ops: The Line. Maybe things will change after this point, but the hamfisting is getting more than silly at this point. Expect also to see some elements awkwardly lifted from Fallout, Dead Space, and Aliens. The most laughable thing about it is that they carry over the constant broken up future tech video recordings and messages, and yet the audio coming from said videos comes through clearer than the spoken dialogue.

Expect things to go to hell in a hand basket soon enough, and yes, you'll be fighting off monsters with limited resources. Well, limited -ranged- resources. Melee weapons don't seem to degrade no matter how much you use them, and the core combat is built around picking up and dropping them while using your guns in between, so it's not that you can't survive, it's that you need to be aware. How aware? More aware than the average gamer, as Afterfall nails one thing, even to its detriment at times, and that is atmosphere. You will be in pure darkness a number of times, and will be attacked just as well, with only outlines of foes shining from a far off light as your guide. It can be a bit trying to navigate, but it's surprisingly authentic. Don't believe me? Dead Space is a brightly lit day by comparison to this:


Actually in-game image with proper brightness level.

All you have for company is a PDA, your melee weapon, your fists, and up to two guns. You can dodge, block, kick to stun, pull off finishing moves, and run through enemies. A number of times, I would actually evade fights by running and hastily spamming the E button in hopes it would open a door faster. These moments were genuinely tense, primarily because Afterfall's absurd sense of logic makes it genuinely unnerving. I can't predict every enemy encounter because the game itself doesn't try to follow the rules most games do. Sure maybe once and a while there's a stereotype moment, but for others, monsters appear silently from pure darkness and begin clawing at you.

One thing that may suck the fun out of this for hardcore horror fans is that your health regenerates. You can only take a few hits even on a lower difficulty setting, but blocking lessens the damage and most opponents can go down in about 3-5 hits with a fire ax (yes, use the fire ax. Ignore the hammers and pipes. Just use the fire ax). However, you will like how there is an Amnesia style terror system. That PDA (that you can -barely- see as the green line in the above image) displays a color for how tense and afraid you are. Green means your aim is steady and you are calm. I've only reached as far as yellow at this point, but it severely hinders your aim while simultaneously boosting your damage output with melee weapons. It's a nice touch, and it's the only real use I ever got out of the PDA (sure you can use it to keep track on exposition and such, but we've already covered how useless that is).

Guns handle fine -- basically Dead Space's style of third person shooting. The lack of swapping weapons with the middle mouse button is an annoying oversight. The worst part is that taking out a gun makes you drop your melee weapon -- and most cutscenes seem to remove all nearby melee weapons, so if you were shooting at the last minute, you're out of luck. So far I've only seen about six guns but there's supposedly four more sections to go, so I'm wondering what else is in store.on that front.

Puzzles are probably one of my favorite parts of the game. The time sensitive nature of them makes it very intense, like trying to solve them before a reactor blows the whole bunker or a monster clobbers you to death. They are relatively simple, but that's usually the best kind of puzzle. Restart checkpoints are sometimes stuck behind an unskippable cutscene, which is regrettable, but you usually get plenty of time to solve the puzzle given how simple they are. The only downside is that unless you press F and disable the tutorial screen that pops up, you can't do them, so you need to memorize how it works before you ever get to start on it. Once again -- not very complicated, but it's an annoyance.

There's also a bonus game for those who but the Extended Edition -- Dirty Arena. This is basically a challenge mode for those who want more of the combat, but after a brief try... it's very clear that a lot of elements in combat need to be learned ahead of time before trying it, so wait until you've beaten the core game.

As of now, I have to give Afterfall Insanity: Extended Edition a positive (I have enjoyed my time with it) 6.5/10. For those you who don't know, 6.5/10 is my baseline score. Still, this is positively given, not negatively like the 6.5/10 for Uncharted 3*.

Cheers,
Paradigm the FALLEN

I'm going off the rails on this crazy Afterfall train!

I'm about to run headfirst into battle on http://www.gameinformer.com/blogs/members/b/tim_gruver_blog/archive/2013/07/29/all-smashed-up-the-gio-31-31-blogger-championships-official.aspx -- feel free to come read

*Stop it, right now. Don't you even dare complain at this point. It's my opinion. If it bugs you that much, you need to reassess this supposed game franchise you like. My opinion isn't going to hurt it's sales.

**Also, stop complaining about Resident Evil 6 or I will give it a 10/10 just to spite you people. Just stop it, no one cares how much you loved Resident Evil 2 and how you keep ignoring that it was more action packed than the original Resident Evil and by default means it set the tone for how the series was gonna progress!

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