SEGAKU has played the alpha demo of Song of Horror and we are going to share with you all the experience. Do not miss a bit, because you would be missing a revolution.
The first time I saw Song of Horror (or ever heard of it!) was last summer at Gamepolis. The game, unlike most, was only available as a lengthy video. I got fixated in front of the screen, watching while wishing that I could play it. I also chatted with two of the developers while there.
Now I had the chance to finally play it, and here is my impression.
Song of Horror is a game that wants to reclaim classic horror games. It is loud, and its voice claims classic features such as angsty, narrow camera angles that allow the player to see very little; backgrounds which seem to be eaten away by the darkness that invite us to move closer to see what is in the dark. Fenced, small locations which invite the player to explore fully, and, the most important part: sound. The sound of silence, the sound of the evil, the sound that makes us feel alone and weak.
And it is precisely the sound that struck me the most when I played the demo. When playing over and over, you never get tired of the use of sound in the game. The sound is a big part of the game mechanics: before you enter a room, you are given two options. You can straight away grab the handle and open up, or (and this is what the player is encouraged to do) have the character put their head agaisnt the door and listen to what is behind it. Here comes the funny part. If you hear white noise (and I LOVE that they even made white noise!), everything is ok and you can go ahead and open the door. However, if you hear a rattle of chains and scratches, you are completely discouraged to enter since you will be immediately attacked by the black fog (the enemy in the game) and die.
Death is also a predominant thing in the game, which I could not fully experience in the demo since there was just one character to play as. But the game has 16 characters to play as, every one with a different story, and whenever you die with one that character is dead forever. That is also an interesting mechanic that makes the player think really hard before making any decision.
The ways the black fog interacts with the player are very diverse. In the demo, there were a few jump scares that eventually became a little repetitive, bit in the final game, there will be a wide variety of them. These jump scares are not “just” to scare you; most of the time it means the black fog is approaching. It may be in the next room. So you go and listen through the door and indeed, the scratchy noises are there.
Another mechanic that I loved was the detail of the flashlight flickering to tell you that the black fog is closeby. Indeed, if your flashlight begins flickering, and you put your ear agaisnt a door, you will surely find that scratchy noise behind it.
There are two more ways the black fog interacts with the player in the demo. One is through a sequence in which, very Silent Hill The Movie style, everything in the room begins to be covered in blackness, and the character tells you to quickly run or hide. So you end up hiding under a table or something, and there is a very unsettling soundtrack used throughout the whole thing. Then when everything goes back to normal, you can leave your hiding spot and go on exploring.
The last way in which we face the black fog is through a kind of QTE, which needs some polishing and I was assured it will indeed be polished. At certain times, the black fog can be seen pushing a door, trying to open it to reach our position. We are encouraged to go to that door and push the other way, so as to keep the fog from swallowing us. Sometimes it works, sometimes it does not. It is an extremely nerve-wrecking situation, since it is the most direct encounter with the enemy we have.
Finally, the huge variety of situations in the game thanks to the interaction between the character and the black fog makes it impossible to get bored of replaying it. Every new game features different scare jumps, different “must-hide” situations and different “block-the-door” situations. I expect the final game to have even more variety in this department, so that the game will be highly replayable.
I would love to remark the fact that this awesome masterpiece is being made by only three people, plus the sound tech. They’ve released a kickstart project and I highly encourage everyone to go and support it.
The game will be available on PC, Mac, Steam, Xbox360 and PS4.
Song of Horror links: