Well... isn’t this embarrassing? I promise another highlight of that magnificent Utopia known as the Greenlight a mere week after the first one and what happens? Illness, heartbreak, invasions (of privacy), battery (I needed to buy some) and murder (of...errm...comedy?) But fear ye not as I am now back for real this time and will now continue my weekly summing up of the Greenlight, which started a while back with Kenshi. I promised you a review of the cult Swedish game Cry of Fear and that’s what your bally well getting, even if it is a bit late.
It's essentially a Half Life mod, released in February and developed by Team Psykskallar, a team that includes Andreas Rönnberg (Developer of Afraid Of Monsters, which was good and Resident Evil: Cold Blood, which wasn’t at all good), James Marchant (who worked on the previously mentioned games with Rönnberg) and Jordy Boerema. Now this game got the thumbs up from PewDiePie (a bloke on YouTube who has found internet fame through playing games, getting scared, making some of the single most annoying noises its possible to make with a human voicebox and calling everything ‘bro’), so with that in mind, lets see how it plays out.
...OK, how not to spoil stuff. You wake up in an alley way with no idea how you got there and only an emo outcast grey hoody, a switch blade (because your gonna plan against Biff and his cronies) and a mobile phone. From there you must navigate your way through a dark and seemingly abandoned Stockholm whilst fending off various monsters and zombies after whiney flesh. There! That’s your lot! Now stab children! No seriously that is part of the game.
There is literally only one worth going into, which is a good thing for a horror game, but it does help if you can really relate to said character as your mind becomes as traumatised and panicky as theirs. With Simon however, it’s impossible for me to relate to him. He's a whiney, self obsessed moron who instead of reacting to the horror of a bloodied corpse in a bath with the terror and despair it deserves, just treats it with a flick of his fringe, a tut and another boring Linkin Park inspired monologue. The man’s a complete berk! There’s a despairing lack of giving a toss for yourself and a constant hurling of negativity at anything that moves to the point that it's almost a shock that the monsters don't just break down in tears mid-swing.
This man however, is a bloke I like to call Troll Face, he pops up maybe twice in the whole game and is totally pointless. He's merely a jump scare and that’s it, he offers no challenge at all. But I still enjoy him because of the sheer number of motivations you can give him; maybe he’s just an overly friendly neighbour, keen to give Simon a fruit basket. Maybe he’s pretending to be an eager puppy humping Simon’s leg, who knows?
There is also a bloke named David, he hasn’t got a personality, is barely in the game at all and I still adore him. Why? Because of the games multiple endings, his is the one I most enjoy, because it is a complete ‘screw you’ to the intended depressively angsty tone. Well done David.
Here is where the game starts to shine. It is marvellously oppressive, being set in an everyday town and having so many shadows you’d go blind if your bedroom light was suddenly turned on, and with monsters hiding in only a certain number of them you will be tense and sweatily gripping the mouse every step of the way. The way you light a path is an interesting game mechanic in itself - you use your mobile phone, which only illuminates a few feet in front of you and if you put it in your pocket you get this eerie glow tinting the bottom half of the screen, which I could only use some of the time as I was in danger of grinding through to my own gums.
The monsters themselves are very effective as well, with a colour pallet that blends into the gloom but few certain spawn points, so its easy for you to walk past a monster and for him to shriek your eardrums out and break your kneecaps before you can say ouch. They vary from random citizens lacking in eyes but far from lacking in hammers, to small zombie children with kitchen knives and cutesy little maid outfits on. But the best thing about the monsters is their animation, which is utterly dreadful. To clarify, its like comparing the special effects in The Thing from 1982 with those of The Thing from last year, yes the more modern one is more up to date and looks more real, but the old one is so masterfully repulsive you cant help but blanch at each limb flying off. So the monsters all jerk around as they walk like they’ve got the bends, which gives them the same terror factor as that creepy old stop motion effect monsters had in the late 70’s.
However, for all my love of the atmosphere, the game does have its troubles. While the monsters are utterly terrifying, far too many of them have a blind spot for doorways. For the very first boss I ran past it in terror, trailing a streak of yellow to the balcony to see if I could jump off, only to turn around and find the blood drooling monstrosity gawping at me like a donkey eyeing up another donkey’s arse, so I just capped it in the face a few times from there, coming up with waveringly badass punch lines for each bullet (the best of which was “are you gunning for my job?”). There is also some serious trouble with jump scares, in that they can happen too often, there is a point when you fall through some stairs into a zombie filled lair, but it isn’t that scary as stoving in the head of a child a few rooms previous. Then there are the clipping issues; I lost count of the number times I would accidentally turn into a monster's torso, at which point every other monster in the room would happily turn me into Meals on Tears.
Well, it is a very scary game, but if someone asked you why it was so scary the memories of all that’s wrong with the game would come back to haunt you. Half the jump scares didn’t even work due to a load of them being spoiled in the trailer. It has some of the worst voice acting in recent memory, which could be due to the voice actor for Simon not being English, but then I would rather he just did the lines in Swedish rather than murder every cut scene as we have subtitles anyway. As I say, if you get the ending with David in it you will laugh your arse off as every other ending has the words “I AM A PHSYCHOPATHIC GIT” branded into it. So all in all, play through it once then don't worry about it.