Haunting forests, giant stone landmarks, a huge dead whale, and dark smoking ghost things. Shadows Peak is a horror game focused on using the thrill of your enjoyment of exploration, and the developers evilness in throwing you into a state of absolute terror.
The protagonist opens the game by talking about his beloved fiancée, you’re a writer, you’ve travelled to this island that is named, “Shadows Peak”, a creepy place where a number of people have gone missing; but that doesn’t faze you, you’ve only gone there to gather some research and legends, not to get kidnapped.
Suddenly though, just when you thought you were in for an easy trip, the world becomes red and falls apart. Once you’ve regained consciousness you find yourself more concerned in looking for your fiancée rather than worrying about the worrying text that has rather worryingly come through on your in-game phone, which is a clear mix of IOS and Android.
You seem to have the freedom to explore the map in any way you see fit, and granted, each direction will lead to something sinister; be that an angry rabid dog, a derelict church, or a teddy bear on a bridge inside a cave. Having such an open environment, for me at least, detracts from the fear due to being able to just run to a part of the map you know has no triggers for jump scares. There isn’t that sense of entrapment to induce panic. I could be wrong though, maybe there’s some interesting stuff in development to change this up.
So far, the game makes up for it’s lack of environmental, and atmospherical terror by using a lot of jump scare tactics and chasing. I don’t like being chased by things. It’s horrible. The main chaser I came across were these weird smoking human shaped ghosts that would float rapidly towards me, screeching if I was within their range. I couldn’t figure out how to kill them, or if they were even killable. I died at one point by thinking a flashlight would protect me…but no. Not even throwing a rock at them worked.
There was a knife you could wield though and fight the human attackers, so you’re not completely incapable of throwing a punch, it just feels like the attack system is quite flawed. It’s slow and groggy at the moment, and with no targeting or crosshair to help, it seems kind of pointless. Also the animation makes you feel like you have to be practically on top of the enemy.
There’s a health system, which I find incredibly irritating. Souls – the smoking black people things – can drop your health a great deal, as can anything that attacks you really, but it doesn’t make a great deal of sense. When you health gets dropped it will sort of start to regain itself, although not fully. There’s medipacks around the world, and there’s something else that offers you a huge boost, but I’ll leave that for you to find out. Basically, the health system seems all over the place and I can’t keep up with it.
I can certainly see the appeal of the open world theme here, and even though it is surprisingly scary, I’m still not that convinced that it works. It just feels like walking to different levels instead of the game loading different levels. It becomes almost tiresome having to travel. I tried taking a shortcut and got stuck in a mountain.
Shadows Peak seems like it will be a good game for scare factor, but the story takes a while to actually pick up, the non-linear method gives a sense of freedom, but you still end up having to do things in a linear fashion anyway because of things needing to be done first before progression can be made; and the way the souls require you to run for ages before they leave you alone is just annoying. Scary, but annoying. I’m looking forward to seeing what else will be done to make it ever scarier than it is now as the developers have gotten the amount of jump scares leading up to action moments just right. It’s certainly a game I’ll be keeping my eye on.