After getting a 2019 PC release, the creepy and intense Those Who Remain has finally arrived on the Xbox One. This psychological, mind-bending horror game is developed by Camel 101, who previously created Syndrome, another horror game in 2016. Those Who Remain takes focus in the town of Dormont, which has seen its share in strange disappearances around the town.
The stories of these disappearances are told through discoverable collectables, like newspapers or letters to loved ones that can be found throughout the game. The game has a very control and progression system. Essentially, you move around and locate different items to advance. The first area you come across after the initial intro has you find a garage key then a fuse to progress to the next area.
Those Who Remain starts with an introduction dialogue. Your character is drinking heavily, discussing choices in life and how he has done wrong. He then receives a text from a woman who you later find he has been having an affair with. She asks to meet in Dormont.
The real game play experience in Those Who Remain doesn’t begin until you arrive at a motel on the outskirts of the town. Once you pull up and see the full effort of the graphics style with some nice sound design and lighting mixed in, it looks like it should be a real treat of a game.
My first experience with the movement in Those Who Remain had me confused. I was actually thinking there was lag or I had my TV on the wrong setting. After adjusting and checking settings, it turned out to just be the game. I was determined to get past it, and made my way to the reception desk. There, I discovered no one was in and I would have to find out my characters love affair on my own.
Making my way to the motel room, the phone rings and a girl’s voice tells you to stay in the light. As you leave, your car gets jacked and your next objective is to chase the car down. At this point the input and poor controls are irritating. But I sprint through the dark anyways to the road the car went down.
Following the car, you start to see the threat in this game, out of the corner of your eyes in the dark fields alongside the road. Bright blue eyes are littered throughout along with an eerie, shadow body to pair. At first, it’s hard to notice as there is a clear objective to do. But when you progress, they become more prominent. Especially at the first house you visit when the real threat comes. Having to edge into rooms to get light switches without being too close to the figures was difficult with the slow, not so responsive controls.
The figures get quite haunting sometimes. In some rooms the lights go out and you have to either rush to the switch or the exit. Once you see the figures a few times you realize they are quite harmless. If you’re smart there is plenty of ways to keep out of their way and proceed through the game. Sometimes to see what happens I would run straight at them and get a machete through the neck.
After completing the first area you are placed in the ‘other dimension’, a word wherein objects float around and everything has a hellscape look. There is even flying whale-like creatures in the air. Proceeding through this area sets the tone for what the game has in store. It’s a mix from the real world to this other world.
This is where puzzles evolve slightly, making you bounce between the real world and the other dimension to solve a small puzzle around a car. In the other dimension the car is covered in ivy but in the real world your character just simply can’t touch it. Bouncing between the two gets quite stressful when you have forgotten to do a certain aspect and have to go back again but aside from that, it opens the game up to interesting opportunities.
The game never really strikes it’s intended tone. The threat never really keeps you scared. The introduction early on of a strange-looking creature with a light for a face just doesn’t do anything. She takes forever to notice your character if you are purposefully trying to get caught and once she is chasing you, all it takes is a quick sprint and she is gone again. It is a real shame as the design for the monsters/ enemies was thought out and had some effort put into it. Having these creepy looming/ disfigured creatures wandering areas all accompanied by a very creepy soundtrack feels wasted.
The story doesn’t improve much at all. The change of the world from the real to the paranormal is cool. The design in both is well thought out and has some beautiful scenes, especially the use of the light. The light does feel like a savior at times but the dark never does get scary at any point. Animation in the game is sometimes non-existent when meeting certain characters who are meant to talk. They just stare blankly with noise coming out of them.
There is never really any attachment to the character you play and the story isn’t enough to keep you interested throughout. This game could have been so much more but playing a modern game on a modern console shouldn’t have the issues this one has, especially for a fully released game. If it was to get patched to fix the issues involved it could be decent. But for now the bugs take away from the feel of the game and pull you away from the horrible feeling it is meant to give. It certainly needs improving.
Note: We received a review code from Wired Productions.
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