Before I start this up, I guested on my friend Bel’s podcast again this past weekend and we discussed some E3 stuff. Go and give it a listen here.
I’m going to be a bit direct here and say that while I enjoyed some parts of the game, overall I feel very disappointed in how this game turned out. From every video I saw prior to release the game seemed to be pretty cool, and I do think that the premise is original and interesting, but that doesn’t save it from a not entirely positive review.
So the structure of this post is going to be the things I like about the game, then the things I felt let down on and how they could have been done better. Keep in mind I am talking about the PS4 version, and as far as I know there is no planned DLC that might expand the game in any way.
Things I Like
So the graphics in this game were really well done. All of the main characters were well animated and looked good, and the transitions between cutscenes and gameplay were fairly seamless. I wouldn’t go so far as to say they used regular gameplay to act out the cutscenes but it’s really hard to tell. The game looks really good in 1080 resolution and there is a ton of details that make everything just look really good.
I also really enjoyed the ambient music because it always felt creepy. Now I can’t say there was a wide variety of music or anything, but I always felt like there was a sense that you needed to be careful while going through a level. The main “enemies” of the game are lost souls that try to “eat” you, and there were several times while exploring that the shrieks they make when they show up made me tense up a little bit.
The last thing that I really enjoyed are the side missions, or at least most of them. The background on the killer, as well as your characters deceased wife, and the ghost stories you unlock by collecting items in the levels are all very interesting to read/hear. Of those the ghost stories are the best because it provides a creepy ghost story to break up going through the level. There aren’t that many of these however, one per level (except for two I think). These are not always easy to find and require some amount of searching, or googling the last one you can’t seem to find and they are worth the effort of finding them.
Things I Didn’t Like
Ok so here’s where we get in to what I thought was disappointing about the game. I’m going to try to talk about what I expected versus the reality of the game.
First off, the game is short. And when I say short I’m talking I beat the game in roughly 8 hours (or less) without trying and I still almost got 100% completion. I think if you just ran through the story and didn’t try to do any collectibles you could beat the game in 3 hours tops. Once I play back through to get the stuff I missed I am seriously considering doing a speed run.
The second thing is the story. Now I will say that I enjoyed the premise, and the story is good, but it is not exactly hard to figure out what is going on either. Having read a lot of detective books in my time I had almost the entire plot figured out halfway through the game. This also makes me feel like the character was a pretty lousy detective before he died because of how obvious certain things are. Now I will admit that there were some things I wasn’t expecting, but the length of the story and the obviousness of it disappointed me greatly. I think that they could have done a lot more here and not only made the game longer, but a much deeper mystery.
The third thing is that you are a lousy detective and there is no real punishment for brute forcing your way through the solutions. The way the detective stuff works is you go around the area collecting clues, and then you have to select which of those are the most relevant. Each time you get it wrong you have to go back in to the “mini game” and try again. The problem is there is absolutely no risk here. There is a little rating system at the bottom that each time you mess up you lose a badge, but there is no reward for getting a 3 star rating either. So there is absolutely no risk in just picking items until you get it right.
The fourth thing is probably a personal opinion issue, but I felt the game was too restrictive. By this I mean the levels were very “on rails” in that while there was some exploring to find the collectible your investigations are restricted to the one room of the level. The most freedom you have is when you are exploring the town for side mission stuff. And that is there just to keep you from blowing through the game super fast. I feel like this is probably the worst problem I had with the game. I feel like if this had been a much larger, more open world kind of game that I would have enjoyed it a lot more. That is not to say I didn’t enjoy the game, I just think there could have been a larger area to work with. I know the plot of the story revolves around the one town, but I am pretty sure the real city of Salem contains more than a handful of streets. The other thing is that for all the talk about freedom to move around buildings, you only ever have access to the handful related to the story. There is no finding ways in to other houses to do side missions.
The fifth thing is a specific type of side mission, and this is helping other ghosts move on. The way they made the game sound in the videos I’ve seen made it sound like this was going to be a larger aspect to the game. But here’s the truth. There are 4 ghosts you help out. That’s it. 4 (not including story, including story maybe 7). Almost every ghost you run across either doesn’t realize they’re dead or have no interest in moving on. You can talk to them and find out how they died, or why they’re doing what they’re doing (apparently most ghosts are stalkers). I was hoping for a greater amount of these types of side quests and the game would have greatly improved if there had been more of this.
The sixth thing is there is no map. This is a minor complaint though, as you can find maps online. But at the point where I was trying to collect stuff I missed it was very hard to find a specific location (the docks) because you get turned around easily. If you’re not looking for the alley that leads to it you’re going to miss it.
The last thing is that the game just isn’t hard. I mentioned this a bit with the there is no reward stuff, but really the game just isn’t challenging. You only ever have to deal with three of the “lost spirit” enemies at one time, which is only challenging in that if you get caught you’re pretty much screwed. But once you get the hang of it they don’t present a challenge anymore. All defeating them involves is getting behind them and doing a quick time event. The other type of enemy is basically hands that are coming up from the ground to pull you down. All you have to do is not walk on them. And that is not a hard task. The final level involves you having to get across the room in 20 seconds dodging these things, and you can do this without even running and still have plenty of time. I understand that maybe they were focusing on the story more but the game was just too easy.
I feel like I’m missing something but this already turned in to an essay.
Oh, and last thought, if you’re skills are supposed to be amplified in death, why couldn’t my character use the gun he had holstered to shoot the “lost souls”? I know it doesn’t fit the story or anything, but that just seems absurd that you can smoke as a ghost but you can’t shoot your ghost gun.
Maybe it’s because the killer pumped all your bullets in to your chest.
Final thoughts – I still enjoyed the story, and I think it is worth playing through once, but try to get it used or on a Steam sale for the PC version.
Final, Final thought – I would love to see this game done as a more open world type game. Even if the graphical quality had to be lowered it would mean a more interesting game.