Not everyone out there are crazy about pixel games on current gen consoles but I for one appreciate them because I love a wide variety of games. There are bad ones and good ones just like with any other type of game and I’ve played many of both over the years. Uncanny Valley is a new pixel art horror title from indie developer Cowardly Creations. Maybe it’s not exactly a horror game but it certainly has that kind of atmosphere. Unfortunately while the initial premise seemed interesting to me it doesn’t quite deliver on all fronts.
In Uncanny Valley you play as Tom who has just taken up a job as a night security guard which maybe isn’t the best job for a man who is experiencing night terrors. Games like Uncanny Valley I find hard to review because it’s hard to talk about it a lot without spoiling anything about the story. I will say that this is a game meant to be played several times in order to get the most out of it. Different things you choose to do will alter how the game plays out. The game plays out interestingly as you’ll play as Tom during his security shift and be able to walk around and explore this lonely factory but then you’ll suddenly be somewhere else doing something else. This can mess with your head as you could all of the sudden be in one of his nightmares and not really know that you are. Flashbacks are another part of the game that will have you playing through things in the past.
During your shift, each of which is timed, you’ll want to dig through everything you can get your hands on. Files, tapes, emails on the computer and so on. All of these things help tell the story too and help fill you in on what is going on. All of this is important if you want to achieve different endings. Another gameplay element is your health. At times Tom will tell you he needs to go to sleep which you can if you choose but you can also choose to keep doing stuff which will end up with Tom passing out after some time. Tom can also hurt parts of his body if you aren’t careful which can hinder you from entering certain spaces and cause you to come up with another solution.
Now you may be wondering just how long is this game that pretty much requires you to play it over and over to figure out the story? The answer is pretty short as you can probably get through a single playthrough in around an hour. It’s a good length for a game like this because you can easily play it in short bursts or play through multiple times in a row to finish it. I will say though that while the game is short it is kind of slow to get started and you’ll have to play through those same slow parts over and over each time you start over. Another thing that is hurt by having to play the game over and over is the scare factor. The game was sort of creepy and had a few scary moments in my initial playthrough but after your third or so time playing the game it wears off and you no longer get anything out of the game in that area.
Visually the game is a pixel art game like I mentioned earlier but don’t let that deter you from playing it as it uses this style well. If you’ve played a few other indie pixel art horror games like Home or Lone Survivor then you’ll know what to expect visually here. Uncanny Valley is Cross-Buy on the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita. Naturally the game makes for a perfect Vita game although it doesn’t support Cross-Save which isn’t that big a deal really given how short the game is. The game only has around a dozen trophies as well and does not include a Platinum.
While Uncanny Valley has some design flaws it has a great story at its heart. Some elements fall apart over the course of many playthroughs but that doesn’t change the fact that your first or second run will be an atmospheric treat. If you’ve got an hour here or there or a few hours to get through the whole thing I think Uncanny Valley is worth experiencing for any fan of horror or psychological games.
*Review code provided by the publisher