A blend of horror game and movie types, Song of Horror makes for an interesting adventure. It has features that set it apart from others that I have previously played. The story revolves around an author named Sebastian Husher, a famous fiction storyteller who has disappeared. The game starts with Daniel, who works for the publisher, as he is sent to find the missing author at his house. From here it immediately gets interesting. Daniel disappears in the house, and you have your choice of other characters to send in to find Daniel, hopefully. You must be careful with who you send in as this game has permadeath! If you lose all your characters, you will have to start the episode over.
Not long after starting the game, a screen pops up and tells you it is better to play with a headset and a controller. This is extremely true. It is also imperative that you hear the audio as it provides critical clues; I ended up having to restart the episode due to not following these instructions. At certain points, you can listen to what is happening in rooms by leaning against doors. If you cannot clearly hear what is happening, opening the wrong door at the wrong time will result in your character being lost. There are also other audio clues that are easier to hear with headphones that give you a heads up at certain times.
As for the controls, I did not like using the keyboard since I found the movement of the characters was more difficult when using it. I played the game with an Xbox One Elite Series 2 controller, and this made the experience much more palatable. The standard keyboard controls were W, A, S, and D for movement, and the mouse acts like a look feature by moving the character’s head and his/her light source in the direction that you move the mouse (though the light source can also be moved with the F key). The tab key and M key are used to pull up your map, and the I key is used to bring up your inventory. The J key allows you to pull up any documents and other information you have found. The E, Q, and R keys are used for various actions with inventory and documents. The controls for the Xbox controller use the left stick for movement and the right stick for the look feature. The LB button brings up your inventory, and the RB button is used to bring up your documents. Clicking on the left stick brings up the map, and clicking on the right stick controls your light source. The A, X, and Y buttons will be used for various actions. There are some timed events that occur that use other controls, but these are the only times they are used for either control scheme.
The story is woven into the game by using the audio, visual, and physical items. Each one of these are done extremely well. The audio is mainly done to make you aware of a hair-raising situation that is about to occur. The visuals also do this with some weird The Ring movie-like instances that the character might not see, but you sure will. Both events together have made me jump on occasion, but they are not overdone. The physical items are crucial to getting through the game. They will help you solve puzzles that are required to advance in the story or give you information on the history of items that can also provide clues. I find that the way the controls, audio, visual, and physical items are used seem to combine several horror elements into one game. The controls and visuals in ways remind me of other horror-focused games, such as Resident Evil and Silent Hill. Some of these elements also give me the feel of movies like The Ring and The Babadook. These combinations work extremely well with the story provided.
The music and sound add another layer of excellence to the game. The sound effects really stand out with this, especially when you are trying to hear what is happening on the other side of a door. In most cases, you will hear just regular background noise. This means there is no danger in going into the room. Other cases, you will hear very eerie noises, and this means something bad will happen if you open the door.
In addition to the depth of the main features of the game, the episodic content provides a lot of different characters that are used to build on the story. Some characters are important to the story of certain episodes. Sometimes, if that specific character is lost, you will have to start that episode over. Thankfully, it will warn you of this when you pick that character.
The music to me comes across as sombre classical music. The sound effects play more of a role in the game than the actual music, and the voice acting adds another layer to the game. It stands out with the characters with the fact that some characters can look at the same item and just recognize the item for what it is at face value, while other characters may know something more about it. This gives the game a lot of depth and provides some replayability for the episodes, so you can see and hear the levels with different perspectives from the characters.
Developer: Protocol Games
Publisher: Raiser Games
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Release Date: 31st October 2019
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