Each week our resident Indie Gamer Nicholas takes a look at a different Indie Game that you may or may not have heard about. Join him on his adventures as he sifts through the rubbish to find The Indie Game of the Week.
I'll save a few of you a bit of time and effort by making a few things clear about Huntsman: The Orphanage before I even bother launching into the review proper.
- Narrative is prioritized over gameplay. It's kind of like a horror version of Gone Home.
- It's not a traditional horror game. There's no violence, and very little action.
- The story is told through long, voiced monologues.
By now, a fair chunk of you have already decided this isn't the game for you. That's good. I've saved you the time and effort of reading through my review. As for the rest of you, well...let's talk about The Huntsman, and why I'm going to do my best to avoid clock-makers and analogue watches for the foreseeable future.
Right. So here's the story. About a century ago (June 17, 1898 if you want to be a bit more specific), tragedy visited Grimhaven Orphanage, in the form of a terrible creature known only as The Huntsman. The being - which looks something like the unholy lovechild of Slenderman, a plague doctor, and giant spider - stole into the orphanage, trapping the twelve orphans who dwelt there in a nightmarish alternate dimension. For good measure, it likely as not consumed most of the staff - eventually, after letting them suffer for a while. This entity is entirely silent, save for the ticking of a myriad set of time-pieces that adorn its coat.
Now, for some reason you - a paranormal buff - have decided to steal into the long-abandoned orphanage, with the goal of finding out whether or not the mythical Huntsman actually exists. Spoiler alert, he does. Second spoiler, you're his newest quarry. Your goal is simple: rescue all twelve of the orphans by bringing each one's favorite item to their respective grave.
Fail, and your soul will be joining theirs. Succeed, and...I guess the Huntsman's defeated for now? It's not really clear that it can even be defeated.
Anyway, as I've said, Huntsman: The Orphanage is by no means a traditional horror title. Much like Gone Home, the focus is entirely on exploration; on seeking out the story behind each orphan (and staff member) and eventually rescuing all the lost children. For most of the game, you're going to hear the ticking of several clocks in the background. Don't worry - that's normal; it just means that The Huntsman is lingering nearby.
Thing is, it very rarely even deigns to show itself. It's heavily implied that it's amused by what you're doing - it's toying with you, like a cat toying with a mouse. On the rare occasions that it does show itself, the game actually crosses the line from mildly creepy to rather terrifying, even as it becomes clear that it isn't really interested in a prolonged chase. The result is a sort of marvelous, anxiety-laden frustration: you know you're being hunted, you know you're being followed, but you never actually know when the hunter's going to strike. You just know that if it does, you're effectively helpless.
The story of Huntsman is told almost entirely through voiced segments, with a few live-action clips tossed in on your character's cell phone for good measure. Focusing on a particular portrait or item has a very good chance of triggering either a video or a monologue; it's usually pretty clear which photos are supposed to set the voices chattering, though occasionally the game's a bit finicky when deciding whether or not you're focusing on one.
I've only two gripes with the game. The first of these is the voice acting: it's very much hit-and-miss. Some of the characters are an utter treat to listen to, while others...not so much. Hattie's, in particular, stood out for me as one of the most grating monologues there. Still, given the quality of the writing, it's rather forgivable: it's clear that the development team put considerable effort into panning out the story and personality of each of the orphans.
Oh, one more spoiler: pretty much none of the stories are happy ones. Basically, don't play the game while you're depressed, or you'll probably stay that way.
My second gripe is with the control scheme. Curiously enough, the developers decided to design the game so that your character automatically - and awkwardly - tries to climb over most passable obstacles (and ladders) that cross their path. This led to some unintentionally scary moments when I thought I'd lost control of my character, but was otherwise something of a nuisance to put up with.
Neither of these really detracts from the core experience, which is all about understanding the stories of the orphans and trying to save them from a fate far, far worse than death - a fate which awaits you yourself if unsuccessful. Grab it on Steam for $14.99.
Eight Reasons The Elder Scrolls Online Will Be Awesome
As you're all no doubt aware, The Elder Scrolls Online - currently in open beta - will be launching in a few months or so. In light of both the new release date and all the hype surfacing around it, I've decided that, over the next two weeks, I'll be looking at all the reasons to look forward to it...and all the reasons we shouldn't.
League of Legends or DOTA 2?
The debate between Dota 2 and League of Legends has been raging almost since the two games were first released. But which game is REALLY the superior of the two?
Ten Fictional Settings That'd Make For Awesome MMOs
Let's look at a few settings, worlds, and stories I'd love to see made into MMOs. I'm sure you'll agree, all the entries on this list have the potential to be downright awesome.
MMO Year In Review: 5 of 2013's Biggest Dick Moves
People are dicks - particularly on the Internet. While that shouldn't come as any great surprise, occasionally we come across someone whose level of sheer dickery reaches legendary proportions. As we move into 2014, let's take a look at a few such individuals from the previous year.
Censorship Spells Trouble for League of Legends Patcher
Internet filtering has been a hot button issue for the past several years. With the slow gutting of protective measures like Net Neutrality, and with governmental powers seeking an end to online anonymity, it's rather harrowing to see the slow progression of political and social policing of the internet. Recently, after about a year of lobbying, the United Kingdom enacted a piece of legislation that many have come to call the "UK Porn Filter." What the filter requires is for British ISP's to implement filters and controls, which are on by default, that will block access to "violent material," not imited to "extremist and terrorist related content," "anorexia and eating disorder websites," and "suicide related websites."
Five Things Riot Needs To Do With League of Legends
The folks at Riot already have their work cut out for them moving into Season 4, and they?re doing a damned find job of weathering the transition so far. That said, here?s a few changes we?d like to see as the new season draws near.
The Five Best MMOs of 2013
2013 was quite a year for MMOs. Not only did we enjoy a whole host of strong releases; a bunch of already excellent games were made even better. Here's just a few of MMO Attack's favorite MMORPGs of the year.
Five Trends That Reshaped MMORPGs In 2013
It's been a hell of a year, hasn't it? As we move into the first days of 2014, let's take a look back at how the world of MMOs has changed - and how that might impact the future.
Best Free MMORTS and Strategy Games List (2014)
A top 10 list of the best free MMORTS and strategy games so you can give them all a try in one place and not have to worry about scouring the internet to find the best ones
The Lack Of Quality In The Survival MMO
We've seen an abundance of new titles join the genre this year, most hot on the heels of the incredibly popular DayZ mod from ARMA II, but they all seem to share a certain lack of quality and polish