Horror Tales: The Wine review for Nintendo Switch, PS5, Xbox One

Platform: Nintendo Switch
Also on: PC, PS5, Xbox One
Publisher: Carlos Coronado
Developer: Carlos Coronado
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No

Last time I played a game from Carlos Coronado was in 2018 when I played — and was mostly indifferent towards — Infernium, a creepy horror game where you wandered around a gorgeous, mostly empty town trying to avoid enemies and solving puzzles. Now he?s back with Horror Tales: The Wine, a totally different creepy horror game where you wander around a gorgeous, mostly empty town trying to avoid enemies and solving puzzles.

I?m being reductionist, of course. Even if superficially the two games have a fair amount in common, dig even the tiniest bit beyond those descriptions and you quickly discover they?re fairly different. Whereas Infernium had a supernatural feel running through it, Horror Tales feels a little more grounded, being set on an island in the Mediterranean. It certainly has some supernatural elements, but between the crumbling buildings, the scavenging rats, and the overwhelming feeling of death and decay — thanks in no small part to the omnipresent splashes of blood-red wine — it feels like you?re trapped in a real-world nightmare (albeit one that shares a bit of DNA with Dishonored). Mind you, some of the real-world feeling may come from the fact that the game is built around dealing with a pandemic, which is kind of on the nose after the past eighteen or so months.

Horror Tales is also just a better, more balanced game. Even though you can?t fight the enemies here, which was also the case in Coronado?s previous game, at least in Horror Tales you have a good shot at outrunning them. Further, there?s no set limit on how many times you can die, which was one of Infernium?s dumber design choices, which means you?re not constantly feeling like you?re fighting a losing battle.

And good thing, too, because Horror Tales has some pretty solid puzzles, as well as a surprising amount of platforming. It never feels impossible, but it always challenges you, but in a good way, so that you feel like you?ve achieved something every time you get past an obstacle. I hate to go back to Infernium again, but the difference is clear: that last game had an inscrutable internal logic, whereas here, it?s generally pretty clear what you need to do, it?s just a matter of doing it.

If Horror Tales has a flaw, it?s that it?s much too reliant on jump scares. I know that they?re a well-established part of any horror game, but at times here it feels a little too formulaic.

Even with that minor issue, however, Horror Tales: The Wine is still a very good horror game. If you want to escape our current pandemic world for one that?s infinitely creepier, it?s definitely worth checking out.

Carlos Coronado provided us with a Horror Tales: The Wine Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: B