My expectations for indie horror games are usually fairly low. Especially ones based off of movies that, to be honest, didn’t leave me impressed.
You follow six students involved in a club that’s desperate to beat a rival university in a popularity contest. And their gambit to do this is to livestream a ritual that reputedly summons the ghost of a vengeful woman. An event that supposedly happened at the location the game takes place in — the prestigious Tunghai University.
I’m a huge sucker for games and movies based on real stories.
If you played the demo, you might think this is your standard ghost hunts, you hide game. And while there is definitely some of that, The Bridge Curse: Road to Salvation is much more a horror mystery game. Its plot and characters are the driving force. So, if you load up the game and in the first thirty minutes find the characters annoying I would recommend you get your refund because you’re going to be talking to these people a lot.
It’s subtitled, with all voice acting in Taiwanese, but I think it’s better this way. The actors are expressive and you’ll always know who’s speaking. Of course, the translations aren’t always perfect. But these mishaps are few and far between and pretty expected for an indie developer.
The school is well-designed. The assets are great, the details are there, and you’ll explore the university from top to bottom. The environment is easily one of the very best things about this game and significantly better than Dreadout 2 (another Asian horror game that ALSO starts in a school and ALSO has a ghost girl).
In terms of spooks and ooks, this game has it in spades. And for those who enjoy Asian horror elements you’ll want for nothing. You’ve got the ghastly white-faced women, soaked in filthy water. The rooms, papered in talismans. Ample rituals (which, of course, all go wrong). Sentient black hair that’s determined to choke you. And then your random sprinkling of vaguely creepy paraphernalia that make a little less sense. Like, why are there so many mannequins? Why are they all smeared in red paint and staring at me?
And then, of course, there are the jump scares. There are a lot of jump scares. Some of which are silly (intentionally so), others very explicitly not. But by the midway point, these scares are too frequent and lose some of their charm.
But seeing the characters realize that the hauntings happening around them are real builds a fantastic tension into the story that gives the horror more gravitas. And things get so much worse for them as secrets and hidden resentments spill over, threatening to destroy their friendships.
Gameplay-wise, it’s a slow burn for the first hour or so. But around the two hour mark things start to accelerate. A significant portion of the game is a bit of a walking simulator, with sprinklings of find item x or speak to whomever. But there are also puzzles and stealth elements that really reminded me of Home Sweet Home, a great Thai horror game.
Overall, it’s not a perfect game and, if you’ve seen the movie, you might know how it ends to a degree, there’s definitely a lot more explored in this game.
But if you haven’t seen the movie? It’s a hell of a four hour ride with a plot that blows most indie horror games out of the water. Even if you have watched the movie, it’s still a game worth picking up if you enjoy some of the more common tropes in Asian horror games. And yes, there’s definitely elements that weren’t present in the movie that are fantastic and will absolutely surprise you.
But if ghost girls and rituals aren’t really your bag, maybe give The Bridge Curse: Road to Salvation (and it’s $20 USD price tag) a miss.