Written by sPINDRAFFT 08/07/2013
You gotta love it when the company that is developing one of the more original horror games to come out in recent years is called Digital Happiness, a new group based out of Bandung, Indonesia. Althought the game is definetly striking off in its own direction when compared to the common mold that survival horror is using at the moment the presence of very clear influences can be seen in the demo which is available to the public right now. The most pronounced considerations go to Asian horror in general, basically the look of long, stringy hair and gaunt, spooky females made popular in films like ‘The Ring’.
Then there is the shrieking phantom that looks like a relative of ‘Scream’ and lets not overlook a pretty healthy interest in mummy type creatures. I don’t mention these homages in a disrespectful manner, I mention them because whether the similarities are intentional or not they are extremely well done and displayed in a natural manner within the games story.
I had the pleasure of sitting down with the game’s demo release and was pleasantly surprised right from the beginning. I don’t know what part of the story the demo is taking place in but I do know it is sometime after a seperation from your friends has occured.
You are alone in a sparsely furnished room with nothing but a cell phone to keep you company and it is this technology that is one of the truly cool things that ‘Dreadout’ is doing. There are at least three instances in this short teaser where you will not be able to advance in the game or solve your current set of issues without mastering this little hand held device. I will give a brief description of how this sometimes works, ‘some things you cannot see without the proper tools’.
Visually the game as it looks in the demo is okay. I understand that this is an alpha release, if I remember correctly, so i don’t expect completely fleshed out objects, textures and the like but I do want to point out what I hope is yet to be tweaked. The building interiors seem to be striaght line geo, as if a young artist was just starting out, and sport thin, blurry texture overlays like those seen in amateur Unity projects; I sincerely hope they give Linda a manicure as well or she is gonna be some kinda pissed.
Outdoors the scenery and buildings look very nice, little details like posters and other items on walls would be easier to read if the camera did not put such a glare on them but overall the world looks good. What is missing are the finer details like writing on the tombstones or windows that you can see through.
One addition that I absolutley admire is the use of third person cameras. So much horror these days, especially the survival games, depend on first person views to kind of sequester your attention to the world directly in front of you. In this way they can sneak up on you easier and scare the living hell out of you before you even have a clue what the devil is going on (your main instinct is always to run) and this is good but it is most refeshing to have a game coming out that places you in full view of the world you find yourself in (as an old fan of fantasy RPG’s this brings back many memories of games gone by).
In ‘Dreadout’ it seems that searching diligently within this world for the answers that will solve your problems is a main focus of gameplay and this is yet another ‘right on’ for a game that is already destined to be a great success.
It appears that perma-death has been altered to a more acceptable level as well, in fact I am not even sure if the ultimate death for a gamer actually exists here at all.
When you die, you go to this empty, bluish-gray afterworld and wake up in a circle of candles after which you can run into the light in the distance and restart basically where you left off. The interesting deal here though is that the more times you die the further away the light gets meaning it can begin to take some time to actually run back to it which I am sure for some will be too much to bare after a bit and they will simply start a new game, trying to avoid whatever disaster got them into this position during the last go round. This unique twist, and the mindset behind it, to one of the more aggravating game play mechanics of horror games today is something I sincerely hope is permeated throughout the full scale game and from the looks of the demo this will joyfully be the case; a little digital happiness for us all.
The game is slated for a 2013 release but no official date has been set at this time. Digital Happiness has served up a fine demo for us in the mean time though and the sneak peak is awesome, offering a chance to experience some of what will be ‘Dreadout’s’ finer nuiances and what has got to be the single most annoying flying bug in all of gaming. ‘Dreadout’ will be a gem that dares to stand out among the crowd; we wait anxiously, cell phones at the ready, to brave whatever horrors lie in wait within this lost, abandoned (well not quite) tow
HAG Score – The Demo scores an A
Digital Happiness scores an A+