PARANORMAL


Written by sPINDRAFT 1/22/2014

Paranormal title with manequins in a witchcraft circle

Matt Cohen 2012

The best I have come up with so far in concerns to ‘Paranormal’ is Uhmm! I have tried but anything more pronounced or defining really escapes me at this point, much like the reason your battery dying on your camera causes you to die completely baffles me as a reasonable device for perma death. I know, its a haunted house, but that should not be an excuse to pull random, sensless ideas out of your hat. If a ghost is going to kill you or torture you it will do so itself, use physical objects to achieve the task or manipulate settings that can cause things to happen (batteries going dead causing you to float up into the miasma does not qualify, at least not in any realistic sense); if it just wants to scare you it may just pull pranks or even slap you around a bit (read the “Bell Witch of Tennessee”).

An oil painting of what looks like the car from the garage with a ghost reflection of its former self peering under the garage door

I want this painting

I’m a liitle peaved at the death scenario because the game presents itself as a real haunting and pulls this off very nicely for the most part until this rather silly scenario comes about. Aside from that the feel is quite real, very spooky and the graphics/textures are definetly good/amazing. I am trying to think of one single game that used textures to this effect and cannot think of one (havn’t played them all though).  Some visuals or graphics or textures or whatever term or view point you prefer look fairly normal but then others just blow you away, like the oil painting on the wall next to the garage door; the damn thing looks real (I want a copy for my collection).

A large tank of some sort, like an air tank or propane tank, laying horizontally in the garage

That’s one bad ass heater to be storing fuel cans under

I am a bit miffed at the release status of the game as well. Originally released  by Matt Cohen Aug 6, 2012 on Desura (source: IndieDB) as a full game it is listed on Steam as an early release Alpha. More weirdness – getting on a year and a half in alpha after Matt said the full game was available on Desura. It looks like Steam is trying to tie what would be an expansion or at least DLC to the original game as if the main game was not complete. To elaborate here ‘Paranormal: The Town’  has been funded on Kickstarter and is billed as the first free expansion for ‘Paranormal’ although, within the same paragraph, it is described as a full game and a sequel to the original. We know also that the title is the mysterious third tape in the first game which is restricted right now. Just alot of weirdness and mixed signals here. ‘Paranormal’ is not an alpha in my view, it is simply a fully fleshed game that recieves current updates, ‘The Town’ is certainly in development but they seem a bit confused on how they actuallly want to attach it to the overall project.

The couch is floating several feet above the floor

OK, I’m officially checking in at Motel 6

I apologize if I seem a bit gruff on the subject here, perma death has this effect on me. In reality (if you can stomach the do-overs) ‘Paranormal’ is a well built game and is quite capable of scaring the living shit out of you, sent chills up my spine on several occasions. Cohen has done an excellent job of similating a real haunted house experience with this game, I say this as if I have experience with haunted houses, which I don’t, but this sure as hell fits the bill for me. Here’s the thing though, if I came downstairs and my couch was floating around the room my first thought would not be to film it for proof of my actual sanity, I would get the hell out of the house; floating couches are not normal my friend.

The story is sad (meaning the history of the house before you moved there) as it descibes what seems to be a thorough breakdown of one couples relationship and the catastrophic events that are put into motion as one of the souls involved is apparently completely incapable of dealing with it. I will not eleaborate on the story because it is one of the things in game that you can focus on besides your fifteenth walk through of the same eight rooms (feels more like four, very compact little house) that keeps things fresh.

A female ghost rising up through the floor in the hall just outside your bedroom

Doesn’t anybody knock any more

The hauntings get more intense as you go as well and I suppose if you had any one single reason for the mindless repetition caused by perma death it would be the random hauntings. Just to name a few of the good ones; the girl in the bathroom who suddenly disappears and then walks up from inside the floor, the can of soda thrown at the camera in sleep mode and no matter how many times you do it the line drawing of the mannequin standing at the far end of the hall is messed up. There are lots more hauntings and the game pulls these off convicingly as well as lighting effects, sound, music and the awesome textures but there are still two things that I believe restrict a game to cult status within a strict group of core players and they are #1 perma death and #2 an MMO based on PVP with no spawn protection or safe zones for new characters.

A female ghost with fairy wings hovering above the ouija board in your bedroom

Beautiful but deadly

‘Paranormal’ is a beautiful game, an excellent similation of a haunted house and even has a good background story to tie it all together but I do hope that Cohen and company will approach a few more options as they move forward with ‘The Town’ such as  implementing a save for player progress. If it must have perma death then at least do it within zones where the player at least is rewarded with some sort of forward accomplishment (repeated, random hauntings are cool but most of us at some point like to find the conclusion of the story, you know – How did the mess end up?). I look forawrd to ‘The Town’ and enjoyed my game time with ‘Paranormal’ but if it makes me start at the beginning every single time I will not play long. Since its not an MMO the devs will come out fine either way and since you all suffered my rantings on perma-death I will not be biased by giving an unfair score. Paranormal is a good game and well worrth a play through.

 

HAG Score  -  9.2

Paranormal on IndieDB

Paranormal on Steam

Paranormal on Desura

About the author

I work in the welding and fabrication business as an educator, that's right, no major magazine experience here nor am I a coding guru. My hobbies include amateur coding, game creation software, writing stories and hopefully releasing something one day. Aside from my day job I currently design and write for HAG, my favorite MMO is The Secret World and WURM is pretty cool (not a horror game). I enjoy the horror genre and only write about games I have actually played. I am always available via the 'contact us' page.