Also on: PC, Xbox One
Publisher: Wired Productions
Developer: Camel 101
One of the things that makes horror great is the unknown lurking in the shadows. I know some people prefer gore and monsters, but for me, there?s something far creepier about a faceless menace that you can?t quite see.
Those Who Remain is basically built around that idea: it?s a horror/puzzle/walking simulator where you have to stay in the light no matter what, or else creepy, humanoid figures lurking in the shadows will kill you. Whatever else it does wrong — and there?s certainly plenty of that — I?m not going to lie: the first couple of times I saw those shapes waiting for me on the edge of darkness, it sent shivers up my spine.
Unfortunately, everything after that left a little (or a lot) to be desired. For one thing, you have to keep turning lights on. You do this by flicking switches that are helpfully marked in red. However, many of them are inside the dark rooms themselves, which means that you have to edge slowly into each room, trying to get at just the right spot where you can interact with the switch.
There are a couple of problems with this. Everything about moving in this game is a massive pain, so edging into rooms is more a matter of trial and error than precision. You can never be quite sure when suddenly you?ll cross an imaginary line and the shapes will kill you. Likewise, getting your line of sight just right so that you?re looking right at the light switch is equally difficult, so again, it?s a lot of slowly trying to look around, while at the same time not moving so much that you get too far into the shadows.
I did try changing the brightness so that I could see the light switch outlines a little more clearly, but this brought its own set of problems. First, it meant that it was nearly impossible to properly tell where the light ended and the shadows began. Several times, I thought I was walking in a totally safe area, only to soon find myself dead.
Secondly…well, let?s just say that Those Who Remain doesn?t look better the more of it that you can see. Those spooky creatures on the edge of the shadows look more like weirdly shiny people in jumpsuits (which are still creepy, don?t get me wrong, but they kind of lose something). As for everything else apart from the lurkers, it kind of reminds me of a mid-level PS3 game, with lots of flat surfaces and weird textures. It?s fairly obvious even when you play the game at normal brightness, but when you turn it up (which, obviously, the game probably doesn?t want you to do), it becomes impossible to ignore.
Those Who Remain also has the problem of feeling oddly empty. As you?d expect from a game of this ilk, you walk around opening drawers and desks and mailboxes looking for clues and items to use, except there?s very little to be found anywhere apart from those objects. While there?s the odd non-useful object here and there, for the most part, it means you spend a lot of time looking empty drawers/shelving/mailboxes. In theory, I guess, this emptiness could?ve added to the creepiness, but in practice it just makes the world seem half-finished.
It?s really all kind of shame that Those Who Remain is so flawed, because it?s got such a good idea at its core. In better hands, this probably could?ve been a much better game, but as it stands you?re safe avoiding it entirely.
Wired Productions provided us with a Those Who Remain PS4 code for review purposes.