Review: Song Of Horror
Reviewed on: PS4
Publisher: Raiser Games
Developer: Protocol Games
As a fan of horror literature, movies and video games, I couldn’t wait to play this game. And I was right! This game has the perfect mix between the clichés typical of the genre and some nice original features that made me love this game from the start. Great storytelling, an amazing atmosphere and good puzzles make this survival horror a must for all the lovers of the genre.
The story begins with the vanishing of the famous writer Sebastian P. Fisher and his family. The editor decides then to send his assistant, Daniel Noyer, to investigate the writer's house. The following chain of events will lead Daniel to the discovery of a strange music box and the existence of a horrible, incomprehensible being called "The Presence" that seems to be behind it all. The Presence is the most original feature of the game, an A.I. that creates dynamic mini games throughout the episodes, changing your playthrough according to your progress and along with a variety of other factors.
The game is filled with numerous dangers but The Presence is the main source of the game’s scares. This monstrous entity makes you feel constantly followed. When the Presence comes knocking, all you can do is try to send it away, but just temporarily. There are various ways to do that, such as try to stop it as it wants to force a door open, or getting into a hiding place and trying to keep your heartbeat slowed or controlling your breath while a blind monster tries to find you. These mini-games can randomly appear during the adventure and they usually require pressing the right button with the correct rhythm. They are really effective in creating frenetic situations and in giving players a nice sense of constant danger.
The puzzles in the game are typical of the genre. They mostly require to find and combinate items and to interact with the environment in some way; even though sometimes is hard to find immediate solutions, generally the puzzles are well designed and solving them is satisfying. Clues are hidden throughout each level, which gives an extra incentive to open every drawer and read every file. A nice touch to increase the gameplay variety, is that each character makes different comments when examining the same object; for instance, alarm installer Alina Ramos might see an array of masks and comment on how they remind her of the village where she’s from, whereas sales manager Etienne Bertrand might simply shudder at their strange designs. These comments help to better characterize and differentiate the cast.
Some puzzles in the game incorporate the Presence in some form or another. In one episode, I spent a few hours gathering ingredients to create a luminol solution. What followed was a tense sequence, where I had to spray this solution in a dark and scary maze and look for the glow that indicated the presence of blood. All of a sudden, I was being hunted by The Presence. It was a heart-pounding experience that created a great sense of danger, and I loved it.
On the artistic side, Song of Horror’s production has two opposite aspects, poorly animated characters and awful voice acting on the one hand but an excellent level of details of the environment and the objects on the other. Despite those flaws, the atmosphere is incredible, and the sense of constant fear that you have when you explore these places is unforgettable. The 3d audio and the great sound design help to involve the player even more.
What I most appreciate about Song of Horrors is that it isn’t just a mix of successful clichés. It’s clearly inspired by other survival-horror classics, but it has its unique vibe, and it’s a dark catchy one. Despite some issues, the fixed camera can be an obstacle in narrow corridors, some phases are excessively slow-paced and some puzzles that require a lot of backtracking to be solved, the game can keep players engaged from the beginning to the end. The story is very intriguing (inspired by horror classic authors’ works such as E. A. Poe or H. P. Lovecraft) and finding all the mysteries behind this creepy melody which drives people who hear it crazy is something I’d recommend to all survival horror fans.