While I’m generally not the biggest fan of horror as a genre, I do appreciate the occasional opportunity to turn down the lights, put on my headphones, and scare myself silly with a game. Because Halloween is fast upon us, I jumped at the chance to try out the demo for Overcast: Walden and the Werewolf, an upcoming indie survival horror game by Microblast Games.
You play as Walden, an old hunter who sets out to kill a werewolf who has killed every single person in his town. Armed with a lantern and a rifle, you must explore the landscape, solve puzzles, and conquer your fear. The story is told through still images and text explaining the backstory and objectives. Your first real task after finding a rifle is to explore the burning remains of your village. The game here is to essentially search buildings, find a key, go into that building for another key, and repeat until you make your way to the next section. It’s pretty standard survival horror fare, but it works well enough for anyone who’s played something like Amnesia.
The village section is a zero-fail state in that there is nothing (that I encountered anyway) that can kill you. That being said, Overcast did an effective job of making me jump with spooky sound design and a few jarring jump cuts. Microblast Games definitely made me FEEL like I was in danger, which is key to an effective horror experience.
The visual style of Overcast is reminiscent of the recently released (and reviewed) Montague’s Mount. This game’s use of extreme film grain has a similar effect; it makes things very hard to see, and actually becomes annoying and distracting rather than creepy. Unfortunately, the option to turn it off in this game was not available which meant I was forced to deal with it. In all honesty, I was a bit let down by the overall look of this game. It has an early-PS2 era visual style, which is not necessarily a problem in and of itself. The real concern is that there is not a terribly interesting sense of design to those visuals, which makes an already-dark and muted game look even more drab. Consequently, I spent much of my traversal holding down the TAB button so I could see where I was going with the map; completely unconcerned with buildings or structures along the way.
According to the Steam Greenlight page for Overcast: Walden and the Werewolf (where you can download the demo and try it out for yourself), it’s still in Alpha so a lot of these issues may well cease to exist as development continues. While I admittedly wasn’t completely blown away by what I played, Microblast does show hints in the early section that they know how to create an effective atmosphere. Here’s hoping that promise shines through as a release date becomes imminent.