Rocwise Entertainment is working on an upcoming horror game centred around the ominous death of young Annabelle. The 9-year-old girl died in mysterious circumstances near the Ramsey Mansion, a well-known haunted house in Boulder Colorado. Her sister Emily wants to investigate but goes missing as well.
It’s at this point in the story that we gain control over Emily’s boyfriend, Nathan. In this exclusive demo provided to us by the game’s PR, we check out Emily’s house, an old graveyard and eventually the Ramsey Mansion itself. You can watch part of my playthrough here:
The developers are currently trying to raise funds for the game on Kickstarter, so if you like what you see, consider backing their project. I think it has potential, but there is still a lot of work to be done.
What did I like
The environments look great and they’ve done a marvellous job at setting the expected atmosphere. Especially the graveyard scene looked pretty spooky.
The classic adventure style picking up of items and using them in various situations. It’s a small nostalgic touch.
You’ll find a lot of detailed lore in this game, unsurprisingly seeing as it has a focus on using books to gather information on the demons you’ll face and the rituals you need to perform to cleanse the house.
The creaky sound effects do a great job at making you believe you’re in a haunted mansion and the jumpscares do hit home. The incantations you can cast in the last part of the demo also felt appropriately effective. Speaking of which, the spell you can use to illuminate the rooms is one of the most fun and satisfying mechanics I’ve had the joy to experience in a game. It luckily has a short cooldown timer as the game is overly dark without it (more on that later). After you cast it, going near a lamp will automatically turn it on, making even the darkest rooms bright enough for you to explore and look for clues.
You also get the power to move back and forth in time after a spoiler-heavy moment I won’t go into. This will probably be a ton of fun in solving puzzles, as it’s usually a mechanic that allows for some creative problem-solving.
What didn’t I like
While the environments look great, the character models need a lot of work. They’re deep into the uncanny valley and their expressions just don’t feel lifelike. I found it a weird choice then, that the focus is drawn to them so often. I’d really advise the team to spend time on this aspect.
The voice acting is also here and there, some of the lines are reasonably brought but most of them feel forced and sometimes cringy. Sadly, Nathan, the main character in this demo (and I think the eventual finished game as well) is the main offender.
While I applauded their sound effect earlier in the article, there are still instances where I felt some polish was needed. At the very start of the game, there is an annoying police siren looping over and over while two cops are talking about the dead body of Annabelle.
The game is too dark when it’s dark and too bright when it’s bright. Makes no sense? I used the default brightness settings and it was nay impossible to see without the use of the flashlight or the David’s Light spell. But when you get near a white surface, the reflection of your light is blinding. In the last part of the demo, I even had to sit idle while I waited for the illumination spell to recharge each time. That can’t be intentional, right? In the earlier bits, I also found it odd that I had to press “F” twice after reading a note to turn the flashlight back on.
Getting to the most irritating part, but I’m sure this is an issue specific to the build I was given: the controls. I’m using a European AZERTY keyboard and it was impossible for me to rebind the controls. You’ll know how useful strafing is when you can’t use it. So, I turned to my trusty Xbox One controller. Sadly, the experience here was even worse: I couldn’t use ANY button on the controller other than the analog sticks. I ended up playing the game with a controller in my left hand and a mouse in my right hand, just to have a natural-looking navigation for my Youtube video.
There were enough elements here to give me hope for the final product, but there is a lot of work still to be done. The environments look great and the Seal crafting mechanic could be a lot of fun, especially when looking at the book and seeing all the interesting monster designs. I hope to see this fleshed out more. Using spells like David’s Light and warping through time are a joy and I can’t wait to see if there will be others like it. If they fix the main issues like the narration, lighting and controls, this could end up becoming a fun adventure.