Those Who Remain has the potential to be an excellent horror game.
As a fan of the horror genre in pretty much all forms of media, I’m regularly on the lookout for an experience that is genuinely scary. With that said, I’ve either become desensitised to the scares or there just aren’t very many good horror games and movies coming out these days. The only one I recall really enjoying recently is Visage, and that’s a Kickstarter than still hasn’t had its full release yet. Still, Those Who Remain looks like a first-person horror game that could be really quite good when it releases later on this year. I’ve tried out the short demo on PC and have high hopes for it.
Playing as Edward, you begin by driving to a motel for an extramarital rendezvous. This does seem like a bit of a cliche for horror games, but I gave it a pass rather quickly as this just seems to be the set up for a much weirder story. The motel is abandoned, and a phone call informs you to stay in the light before you notice that your car has been stolen and is racing off down the road. You pursue it and find yourself at an old farmhouse surrounded by ghostly figures standing in the shadows just outside. Go into the dark and you’ll find yourself horribly murdered by these denizens of darkness, but if you can find a light source, these threats will flee as quickly as they appeared.
This is one of the main gameplay mechanics of Those Who Remain. To proceed you’ll need to find a way to shine a light on the path you need to take, and this can be as simple as turning on a light switch, but that would be fairly dull if the whole game was based around it. There are some much smarter elements at play here. You can travel between two different realities by travelling through certain doors. Actions you carry out in one reality will have an effect on the other, meaning that puzzles can play out across multiple stages as you flit between dimensions. There are also elements that can only be seen in one realm, rather than both, so you really have to pay attention to each world if you’re going to solve these puzzles.
The presentation so far seems good. The visuals aren’t the best I’ve ever seen, but they are solid. How these visuals are used is impressive though, as one reality is like a twisted version of the other. Think of the Upside Down in Stranger Things and you’ll have the right idea. The sound is a touch uneven, with some good voice work and some that’s less impressive, but it’s still a few months away from release so there’s time to polish it up.
Atmosphere, which a horror game can live and die on, is really quite good and reminded me somewhat of Alan Wake thanks to the use of light to remove obstacles alongside the fog-riddled forest you seem to be trapped in. Whilst this snapshot of Those Who Remain is light on actual scares, there’s a feeling of dread that slowly builds over the half-hour that it lasts for. The enemies aren’t a threat at this stage, as they remain stationary, but the trailer that plays after the close of the demo shows far more active dangers for you to face, meaning those scares are likely to be far more prevalent.
Even after just thirty minutes of playtime, I’m quite keen to see where Those Who Remain goes. There’s a mystery that I’m looking forward to exploring, with a puzzle mechanic that I’ll likely enjoy.
So far it’s got my attention, and I’m looking forward to seeing the results of Camel 101’s work when Those Who Remain releases in June this year on PC, Xbox One, PS4, and Nintendo Switch.