Indie Studio Camel 101 walks you down a dark road of atmospheric horror with Those Who Remain, a first-person psychological exploration bound to give you the heebie-jeebies.
Those Who Remain entirely focuses on the first-person perspective of Edward, a sullen protagonist who, after a few glasses of liquor, decides that he’ll end an affair he’s been having. Upon arriving at the Golden Oak Motel to confront his lover in the motel room she’s staying in, Edward witnesses his car being stolen from the parking lot. With little options remaining, he begrudgingly starts a long walk back to his home in the town of Dormont.
As exploration games go, this one doesn’t pose much of a challenge – you walk and click when needed. I wasn’t particularly drawn into what I was playing until the lights on the road back to Dormont started clicking off. But when they did, man, did things get interesting.
Edward finds himself on a dark, abandoned road surrounded by shadowy vapors of human figures who stare at him ominously from the dark. Staying in the light and avoiding the wrath of these apparitions suddenly becomes crucial as you walk across a field and through a gas station, turning on car lights and flipping on switches to get back home.
Those Who Remain becomes a sort of psychological horror/mystery. I was impressed by the game’s ability to ratchet up the tension. At one point I walked through the front door of someone’s home to find shadow people waiting for me in the hallway, and when I turned around to nope my way out of that little house party, the front door had disappeared. The music and sound effects assist in building a paranormal sense of discomfort. I could hear vague whispers and maybe even the occasional blip of a hospital monitor amidst the noise of the hollow wind and echoing synth.
There was a solid amount of story in the few minutes I played. All along the road to Dormont, Those Who Remain is littered with clues as to what is happening. Missing people signs are everywhere. Get close enough to a shadow, and you can hear someone plead, “help me”. And more inexplicably, Edward finds little mementos of a happier life he used to have with his wife.
By the end of the demo, I had asked myself, “What the heck is going on?” more times than the character I was playing did. That creeping, unsettled feeling, use of light and darkness, and moody music all laid the ground for a very interesting playthrough. Come May of 2020, I’ll most likely be lost and heading in the direction of Dormont again. It’s safe to say I’ll be playing with the light on, though.
Those Who Remain releases May 15, 2020 on Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch and PC.