In the spirit of the season, I thought I’d bring out some horror games I’ve been meaning to review for some time now. When you think of an iOS game, you don’t tend to think of horror, though. Hell, most games you download through the app store have something to do with angry, flappy birds, smashing candy or playing with your jewels, but it seems that some people are opening up their minds a little. Some developers are trying out something new with these media and seeing just how well they can excel. In the case of Lights Off, they’ve created horror and made it even more personal.
Some of the main things that stand out with this game. When you start there is a rudimentary story presented, enough to get you into the game but little enough that you feel less than secure about what’s happening. In Lights Off the main character says he got into a fight with his father, took his keys then left the house. He then needs to remember where he left his tent since he needs to get out of town for a while. Maybe it’s just me, but it really does seem like he’s implying the argument got really bad. Perhaps he’s murdered his father? I mean, I have had plenty of arguments with my mom, my dad my brothers occasionally my wife, but I have never had to leave town to sleep in a tent, which I keep in an alleyway, to spend the night in a “place where no one could find me.” Yep. Maybe it’s not just me.
While you are sleeping in the woods, you are awakened in the night by glowing red eyes. This makes you wander around at night with a dying flashlight, trying to find a house that some disembodied voice mentioned in passing. After stumbling around in the dark for what feels like ages, you find your way to the back of a house. Inside you meet this big, black spooky being that reveals some things about you. Like, for instance, you are a man. No really, I had only a few indications to this, but up until I saw a photograph of the character, I was undecided about his sex. The problem is that in the beginning sequence, when you search for the tent, the sound of the shoes on the ground sounds, to me, a lot like high heels.
Later, when you are in the house, your character breathes so heavy, I thought he might need an inhaler.. or he might have just turned into a zombie. Either one is a viable response. But his breathing has a bass resonance that seems to sound like a man. Originally, I was so confident that the main character was a woman that I was getting ready to talk about how I was glad to have a female protagonist. Considering the implication of murdering the father, women usually have way more twisted motivations for killing their fathers than men do.
Another issue I had with the game is actually just a double-edged sword. This game has a fantastic ambiance, and it even suggests you play this in the dark with headphones on. I wouldn’t recommend it since that might have scared the piss out of me during my playthrough. One of the ways the game achieves its ambiance is through the liberal use of film grain. It grants the game a gritty and chaotic feeling that you just don’t get with clean graphics. It works great, until it becomes so prolific that you feel like you are wearing really really dirty glasses. At a couple points the film grain got so bad that I had no idea where I was or what I was doing, and I even missed a couple of little scares because of it. It was like “man I can’t see shit! O, that was supposed to scare me! Ahh ahh….. dammit..” In earlier levels, the game also has a small area of vision within your screen due to the fact you are using a flashlight, which is really effective and creepy. This worked out well.
The controls are one thing that I really have to applaud because you never see them. The left side of the screen lets you walk by sliding your finger around and the other side lets you change what you are looking at by sliding your thumb around. It is like having two joysticks you can see through to the game itself. Well-orchestrated and it really did help me get even more into the game. All this alongside the fact that the graphics were pretty good for an iPad app, and I would say that this is totally worth your time to check out. Not to mention, this game is free on the app store. Henry Sorren and Pulp Horror Games have a lot of other games up there, too. Definitely a good team and you should check out their work
Henry Sorren has also been a sort of sponsor of The Crotchety Old Gamer, providing keys that I was able to distribute to winners in The Crotchety Old Giveaway. Unfortunately, the giveaway ran for a good length and by the end some of the keys expired, which was a bummer. Steam keys never go bad, but the app store acts like you are giving away fresh strawberries without any kind of refrigerated storage. Bastards…