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Dreadout 2, an Indonesian horror survival game, came out to consoles last month and, swept up in nostalgia, I simply couldn’t resist purchasing it. It’s been years since I played last and I could only remember all the good things about the series.

The Indonesian folklore. The amazing monster design. The exceptional characters and plot. The obvious homage to the Fatal Frame series. It only occurred to me once I was an hour in that many of those good memories are tied to DreadOut 1 and Dread Out: Keepers of the Dark.

I’d forgotten most of DreadOut 2. Which says something, considering that it came out in 2016.

But I gave this game my very best shot. With clear eyes and the knowledge that, even now, DreadOut isn’t some big budget triple A game.

And, well. I have to be honest with you. It’s a mess.

DreadOut 2 Remastered: Spoiler Free Review
Every horror palette is a variety of browns, greys, and maybe a splash of red.

It doesn’t look like it was made for next gen consoles. The models can still be awkward, the environment borders on drab and forgettable. We’ve gotten so many great horror indie games that look amazing in the past year that it’s hard to excuse the roughness, especially for a remastered game.

But the true deep sin of DreadOut 2 is that its story doesn’t make any sense without having played the previous installment, even with the cinematic at the start. Even playing both, DreadOut 1 and the standalone game Keepers of Dark, this game still barely makes sense.

The gameplay is also, unfortunately, not great. I’ve complained about camera-based battle systems in my Fatal Frame gameplay reviews but DreadOut 2 is the absolute pinnacle of bad battle systems. You have no sense of health. Shots that feel like they should hit sometimes don’t. Some boss fights feel unfair. Other boss fights feel so easy as to be anticlimactic. And the way she swings an axe is genuinely pathetic.

Beyond that, there are a lot of side quests. And as a person who loves side quests, I was super excited about it. But they don’t really contribute to anything. I don’t get cool lore, character development, or the opportunity to explore Linda’s ample trauma, or even help her heal from it.

But there are some good aspects. The environments are still really cool. I personally find high schools and hospitals creepy, and you get to explore both in a Silent Hill-esque style. There are some genuinely creepy moments mid-way through the game. And of course, I love the tidbits of Indonesian black magic and spirits that you see scattered about.

But these silver linings are anemic, practically translucent, in the face of the overwhelming negative aspects of this game. I still can’t get over the fact that they released DreadOut2 before 1. It must’ve been for budget reasons, because I can’t see this game being anything other than a cash grab.

So, as much as it pains me, skip DreadOut 2. There are better games coming out.

For example, did you know that White Day: A Labyrinth Named School is also coming out to consoles on Sept. 8th? Look out for that review in the coming weeks!

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1 Comment

  1. Bugulus

    August 22, 2022 at 12:09 pm

    I find sometime with remakes, there’s some dated fundamental concepts that they just can’t update right, like AI and controls. It unfortunately seems like this is true in this game based on your review 🙁

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The Sinking City Review: Sunken Lovecraftian Lore

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The Sinking City is an open world third-person shooter developed by Ukranian developer, Frogwares, and published by Nacon. In this game, you play as a private investigator who has come to the city of Oakmont. In this half-submerged city you hope to find the cause of your maddening dreams and the mass disappearances plaguing the city.

Inspired by several H.P. Lovecraft stories, The Sinking City is a love letter to Lovecraftian lore. However, it takes the time to condone problematic themes in Lovecraft’s writings which is always appreciated. It has a massive open world that lets you explore the haunting world of a city driven partially mad. The neighborhoods are painstakingly designed and the found objects tell an enrapturing story. Riding a motor boat through flooded streets was mesmerizing. I also am fond of the novel detective mechanics. Even if they are a little basic, they are still interesting and tell a good story. 

A screenshot of gameplay from The Sinking City, showcasing a great character model.

I cannot stress enough that I wanted to love The Sinking City. The premise and the atmosphere were everything I wanted from a Lovecraftian horror game. But, the game just fell flat. Frustratingly enough, most of the issues with the game are simple quality of life improvements. I had consistent bugs, performance issues, and visual hiccups that prevented the game from coming into its own. The enthralling environments were tarnished by enemies appearing and disappearing and character animations not functioning properly. While the character models were exquisite, the dialogue was comically tacky, once again ruining the mood. I also wasn’t a fan of the combat, which felt undercooked in its difficulty and stealth mechanics. The Sinking City feels like the alpha release of what could be an amazing game. But in its current state I found it to be semi-unplayable.

That being said, the game has an amazing mod community on Steam. They have created community content to fix a lot of the issues I have with the base game, so I recommend checking that out if you already own the game. I have also heard that the game has better performance on consoles instead of on PC, where I played it. So that may be another avenue for enjoying The Sinking City.

Another unfortunate reason I can’t recommend the game at the moment, is current legal battles against Nacon the publisher. Nacon has been accused by several of its developers, including Frogwares, of pirating their game and uploading it illegally to Steam. The legal battles have yet to be resolved, however, it is unfortunate that these accusations have happened twice now by two independent developers.

Maybe one day we’ll have a good Lovecraftian horror game. But, it is not yet that day. 

3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

However, in honor of Frogwares please consider donating to a Ukrainian Relief Fund as they actively fight on the front lines to keep their country safe. Additionally, consider supporting their new game Sherlock Holmes: the Awakened.

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Röki Review: Family & Scandinavian Folklore

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Röki is an adventure puzzle game developed by Polygon Treehouse and published by United Label and CI Games. In the game, you play as Tove, a young girl on a hunt to save her kidnapped brother. She must engage with creatures from Scandinavian folklore as well as her own guilt surrounding the death of her mother in order to save her brother from a grim fate.

This is a game with an immense amount of heart. From the art to the story to the sound design, you can feel the soul and care that went into Röki. And for the most part, it pays off. I invested emotionally into all of the characters as I played. I was also enraptured by the depth of the story and character interactions as the game progressed. The gameplay is similar to that of a point-and-click adventure game, where you collect items and drag them onto environmental objects to solve puzzles. The items and environments were intricate and satisfying to engage with the majority of the time. Especially in the first third of the game, I delighted at uncovering little secrets and talking with the inhabitants of the forest. When the game was rewarding, it really felt rewarding.

A screenshot of gameplay from Röki.

Despite its enchanting nature, the middle third of the game was a definite low point. As a game that took me about 10 hours to play through, about 3 of those hours were exhausting. The puzzles were especially tedious, requiring a significant amount of backtracking and/or convoluted solutions. Instead of feeling rewarded for solving the puzzles, I just felt thankful I could move on. The biggest issue wasn’t the solutions or placement of items, it was the annoyance that I knew exactly what I needed to do but had to spend at least fifteen minutes stuck in unskippable animations to complete it.

Röki is a gorgeous adventure game that immerses you in Scandinavian folklore through a combination of story and puzzles. However, if you don’t have patience for unskippable dialogue or frustrating puzzles you may want to try a different game. Additionally, I find the price of $20 a little high for how frustrating a third of the game is. But I would consider it a must-get for puzzle fans during a sale! Find Röki on Steam here.

3.9 out of 5 stars (3.9 / 5)

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Ring of Pain Review: An Addictive Dungeon Crawler

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Ring of Pain is a rogue-like dungeon crawler developed by Simon Boxer and Twice Different. In the game, you travel through layers of a dungeon collecting loot and killing monsters. Each layer holds a series of cards containing enemies, curses, boons, and exits. As a character, you gain equipment, spells, items, and stat increases that help you defeat your enemies (or just run away better). 

Ring of Pain is a fantastic game. I received it in a charity game bundle, but it had sat untouched in my Steam library for a year. On a whim, I decided to try it out, telling myself I would play an hour or two and then review it. I ended up playing for four hours, only stopping because I had prior engagements. Every time I sat down to write this review, I instead played another couple of hours in Ring of Pain. The point of this story is not my weak will, but instead the highly addictive nature of Ring of Pain.

A screenshot of gameplay from Ring of Pain.

The gameplay had a good mix of strategy and luck, making it rewarding to succeed. There are also many viable strategies to pursue, which means there are many ‘correct’ ways to play the game and still see success. As someone who can get frustrated with rogue-likes, I liked how each run was relatively short but rewarding. This meant that I didn’t feel like I was sinking hours into gameplay that led nowhere. Also worth a mention is the absolutely stunning artwork that masters being atmospheric, creepy, and comical. 

My biggest gripe is that I wish there was more diversity of items. I sometimes felt as if I was just getting the same boring equipment over and over again. That being said, the developers have been consistently adding new content to the game since it released. Therefore, my largest issue is being addressed. 

Ring of Pain is a great game, and I highly recommend it for those who enjoy quick rogue-likes with dungeon-crawling elements. However, try another game if you get frustrated by random generation that could be impossible to surmount. 

Available on Steam for $20, I would say the price point is a little steep for the diversity of content. However, it’s a must-get during a sale!

4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)

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