Frightence is a new horror game from the developers of Outlast and Until Dawn, that takes place in an abandoned psychiatric hospital. The developer’s goal was to create something scary without gore or violence. Did they succeed?
The horror film P.T. was both a godsend and a disaster for the genre. While it is unquestionably a work of brilliance in and of itself, it has left such an indelible mark on the gaming industry that it has produced a slew of imitators in its aftermath. True, it has spawned some popular games like Layers of Fear and Visage, but it has also spawned a slew of titles that have failed miserably and faded into oblivion. Enter Playstige Interactive’s Frightence, which, despite showing potential, falls into the latter category.
Because that’s all you’ll be doing, I hope you love strolling down corridors and unlocking doors.
Frightence doesn’t have much in the way of plot. You take on the role of a janitor entrusted with ensuring that all tenants of the condemned building you’re in have left before it’s destroyed. Despite becoming a janitor, you are not required to clean anything. On the other hand, one glance around the location makes it clear that doing so would be futile.
That’s all there is to it. You’ll stroll around the building’s halls on two distinct levels, attempting to open every door you encounter until you find one that’s unlocked. Each area you may explore is a vignette of a horror stereotype, ranging from a terrifying doll-filled child’s chamber to a gluttony-themed slaughterhouse to an almost identical clone of the P.T. corridor.
A heartfelt tribute to P.T. Barnum.
It seems like a fantastic thought, and I like the concept… in principle. The issue is with how it is carried out. Frightence is a walking simulator in the worst sense. The janitor has a limp for some reason, which makes walking sluggish and lurching. There’s also no option to run. Because all you’re doing is wandering down corridors and inspecting doors, this makes the game even more irritating. There’s no way of knowing which doors will be opened each time you leave, so you’ll have to double-check each one. The whole game consists of you wandering back and forth through the same halls at a snail’s pace.
Prepare to see this view often.
There are no riddles to complete, no opponents to fight or even run away from, and there aren’t any significant things. To be fair, there are some artifacts you can pick up and study, but they seldom reveal much about what’s going on in the building or who the people are. I bought a few VHS tapes that I planned to watch at some time, but I never found a VCR that I could use. I noticed early on that you don’t even have an inventory, thus you won’t be able to utilize any of the goods you collect. Once you’ve examined something, it’s gone for good. So, what’s the point of establishing points of interest if they don’t contribute to the plot and can’t be utilised in any way?
I must admit that I appreciated the dramatically different vibe of each room, which is an innovative notion once again. While Frightence succeeds in establishing a sense of suspense, it never manages to be really frightening. The majority of the game is filthy and claustrophobic, but it seldom goes deep enough into those themes to be genuinely scary. Frightence, on the other hand, commits the cardinal fault of the horror genre by relying on cheap jumpscares. Even those don’t land because they’re so plainly telegraphed. The first one could have worked if I’d known what I was looking at, but all I saw was a fleeting malformed bulge as it moved by the door, leaving me more bewildered than scared.
What a delightful dinner gathering.
I would add, though, that the visuals in Frightence are pretty impressive overall. Throughout the game, the lighting, texturing, and components are of a high standard. The structure seems run-down, decaying, and completely unpleasant, but I mean that in a good way. You get the distinct impression that the structure may collapse at any time. Unfortunately, some of the character animations, notably the cats (of which there are many), aren’t quite as convincing.
Frightence’s sound design is another excellent strength. The building’s moans and creaks, as well as the sporadic slamming of doors, add to the suspense. The voice acting, to the extent that there is any, is also rather good.
This cat seems to be as displeased with his appearance as I am.
Frightence is difficult to endorse since there is so little of it. With a runtime of less an hour and little replay value, it’s difficult to recommend it. The concept is fantastic, but the game stops just as things start to become interesting. It concludes with a “To be continued” notice, which gives me hope that a better game is in the works. Frightence now seems more like a demo or prelude than a full-fledged game.
Although some of the character motions (particularly the cats) are visibly stiff and mediocre, the aesthetics are surprisingly outstanding.
It’s a walking simulator in the worst sense: all you can do is stroll slowly and gaze around.
The sound design provides a strong sense of tension.
Each chamber is a separate vignette depicting a different classic horror theme. Regrettably, the game stops just when it was becoming intriguing.
Final Score: 5.5
The game Frightence is now available on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.
On the Nintendo Switch, a review was conducted.
The publisher gave me with a copy of Frightence.
As an example:
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