Among Ashes – Dusty

Haunted video games!

Among Ashes has some fun with the cursed game trope.

If you’re familiar with creepy pastas or that wonderfully dreadful film Stay Alive, then you probably have some knowledge of the cursed game stories. If you aren’t then it’s not hard to understand, as they tend to revolve around someone finding a previously unheard of game either in a charity store or on some obscure website, only to find that playing it bestows a curse upon the unfortunate player. They tend to be fun horror tales, but there aren’t all that many video games that play with the theme outside of the likes of Daniel Mullins’ games and a few others. Among Ashes takes this concept and combines it with the YouTuber bait Welcome to the Game series and makes something quite enjoyable if the demo is anything to go by.

You are casually playing Quake knock-off Demon Blood one cold December evening in the year 2000, when your friend Mark messages you on Awesome Messenger to tell you about a weird game he’s been playing. Already this is giving me nostalgia, because anyone of a certain age over twenty years ago will have had an evening something like this. Anyway, he directs you to a website where a developer has left a link to a game they made, along with an apology and that no one should try and contact them. Downloading an .exe file from a random website at the turn of the millennium? What could possibly go wrong!

Among Ashes
Night Call really does hit those early survival horror notes.

Once downloaded, you’re presented with the game Night Call, in which Jack King and Amy Lovecraft are investigating Stoker Manor, where strange things are afoot. Playing something like a first person Resident Evil, you’ll explore the estate, speak to a couple of very 2000s-looking characters, and experience spooky moments, including a seemingly out of place girl appearing, accompanied by the sound of your own window breaking. You get up from your PC to investigate, and find that this downloaded game may not be as innocent as a naïve gamer in the year 2000 might have thought.

Considering there are really three games in here, each of them plays surprisingly well. Demon Blood is a simplistic, but easily playable first-person shooter, and Night Call feels like it could be a fully featured game in its own right. You’ll find items, fight, and even make use of a limited save system like those classic survival horrors all those years ago. Your time away from the PC is very limited in this demo, but it did give me those Welcome to the Game vibes of having to deal with your computer whilst also managing what’s happening around you.

The visuals are nicely done, giving the games on your PC that classic late-90s look, whilst your apartment is rendered well enough, although I saw little of it. I will say that the pacing is a little odd, with you needing to play Demon Blood for a bit longer than I’d like before the game kicks off properly, and you aren’t given as much tutorial as I might like in Night Call, but these things will likely be ironed out before the final version.

Among Ashes
I’d like there to be a bit more freedom to explore the websites. You’re limited to a few links as it stands.

Everything feels solidly made at this stage, and I was disappointed that the demo ended when it did, wanting to spend more time both in and out of Night Call. To say I’m keen to give the full release a go is an understatement, and I’m quite hopeful that this will be a solid horror release for this year that I could add to my ever expanding list of scary games. 

Currently, Among Ashes is slated for release this year, so hopefully we should see a full version on PC very soon.

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