At first glance, Quintus and the Absent Truth looks like a fun children’s story inspired by Stuart Little. Playing the role of Alan Shaw, players navigate various chapters in storybook fashion as our protagonist copes with the loss of his wife and his retirement from his record label. My expectations of a magical adventure were, however, squashed when I encountered numerous cheap jump-scares, eerie atmospheres and ghostly apparitions.
Noises That Go Boo
First-person horror games normally give me a good fright or two, especially in the dark, gloomy environments they are commonly set in. However, Quintus takes a different approach and portrays itself in a unique art style of comic book-like shaders and forgettable characters. Understandably, the Unity engine can only produce so much, and the developers made an attempt to frighten players using these assets. Once I actually began to really experience the scares, I didn’t feel panicked or tense but rather disappointed due to the dependency on loud noises and stock sound effects that feel more at home in fan-made titles. Nearly every jump-scare would have barely had an effect on me if not for the loud music cues that accompanied them. Some scares feel unnecessary and sometimes feel out of place to the story itself. For instance, players can control Quintus in later chapters and see the world in his view. You can venture into a kitchen and can get jump-scared by a gas hob turning itself on and off, complete with another loud noise. Events like these feel like simple filler and had no effect on my gameplay.
Voices That Go Poo
Characters play an important role in any story-driven game, and unfortunately, Quintus has some of the worst voice acting I’ve heard. Our voiced protagonist shows very little emotion, and when required, it comes off as very forced. For example, a late chapter obviously wants Alan to shout Quintus’ name, but the voice actor pathetically lets out something that can only be described as a sort of ‘whisper scream’. Ironically, Quintus himself can only make short squeaking sounds, miles better than some of the painful voice acting provided in the game. Many horror games often use silent protagonists, which can actually heighten tension and make the player feel more alone in the world, something that this game could have implemented or had available as an option in the menus. Character design has no real charm to it either. Quintus looks like an ordinary mouse who can walk on two legs. The ghost of Alan’s wife is a 7 ft. skeleton in a wedding dress with no unique features to spook the audience, and Alan himself is a walking camera lens, par the top of his head seen by Quintus in later chapters. It’s disappointing how a story-driven horror title can treat its characters with lazy designs and poor quality voice acting.
Lots of Walking
For its first-person perspective, Quintus controls fine for what it is. The left thumb stick controls the movement, and the right thumb stick controls the camera. You can pick things up, put them down, flip them around or upside down. Most of the time, you’re controlling a character who can perform extremely simple actions and nothing more. Quintus doesn’t feel nearly immersive enough to truly grasp what the developers have tried but sadly failed to bring to a video game. Solving puzzles involves clicking this or fetching that and give you very little to be excited about. Alas, the only puzzle section I slightly enjoyed involved luring a cat to a book in a kitchen and encouraging it to knock it off a table. After a while, I felt my playthrough was becoming stale, and I felt encouraged to just run through the rest of the game, focusing on its very easy story-related achievements.
Keep Going or Power Off?
Like most games, there were times in Quintus where I felt like I needed to reload a checkpoint. I watched every cutscene in attempt to immerse myself in the story, but if I made a mistake, I knew I would have to reload. Cutscenes refuse a skip button, so if I messed up a puzzle and wanted to quickly get back to the same point I was at, the game would spit in my face and make me watch a cutscene all over again with no option to skip. This made an already long slog of a playthrough even more soul-crushing, and there were times where I debated even choosing to restart a section.
It’s Finally Over
Once you get over the horrific voice acting, forgettable characters and cheap jump-scares, Quintus and the Absent Truth is a nice 1-2 hour game that’s mainly good for achievement hunters. Personally, I feel like the horror elements could have been replaced with different ideas and could’ve made for a much more pleasing experience. Quintus and the Absent Truth just doesn’t feel like it knows what kind of game it wants to be.
Developer: Eastasiasoft, Wreck Tangle Games
Publisher: Wreck Tangle Games
Platforms: Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PS5, PS4, Nintendo Switch, PC
Release Date: 6th July 2022 (consoles), 13th October 2020 (PC)
Gaming Respawn’s copy of Quintus and the Absent Truth was provided by the publisher.