Playing Dreadout’s Demo Is Like Being Inside An East Asian Horror Film

dread

Okay, look, I apologize. A few months ago I had a bit of a chortle at Dreadout because, well, come on the trailer is rather hilarious at points. But there’s a fine line between horror and comedy, and with the release of the game’s demo, Indonesian developers Digital Happiness have managed to cross the line and stop me giggling in favor of jumping when they tell me to and saying, “fuck you” the rest of the time. Basically, they prove in this demo that they’re making a survival-horror game that could be successful in putting both you and me on edge, and possibly tipping over it towards being scared.

DreadoutSomehow, I missed the line where they said Dreadout was a third-person title, so I was fairly surprised upon jumping into it to find that was the case. You play as a young schoolgirl called Linda, who wakes up in a rather dark place atop a mattress on the floor. You hear a phone ringing against a surface and wake up to retrieve it. This is when you take control for the first time, as you walk around this dingy pit and eventually discover the phone in the corner. “E,” it instructs. So you press the key and pick it up, and upon doing so, you talk to a friend, who simply asks why it took so long to answer and questions where you are. That conversation gets cut short and reverts to the camera instead. And when it does, Linda tilts it to point at the corner of the room – merely inches away from you – and there you see a rather disturbing looking female ghost just going mental in the corner.

From there on out you take control throughout this demo and are haunted by said ghost a number of times, with its most terrifying form being the one when it travels through walls and cackles at you maniacally. I think that laugh may be stuck in my head for days. The demo is actually the game’s prologue, it would seem, and does a good job of introducing you to what should be expected of the game. The strong points are a very well constructed atmosphere due the utilizing darkness in the environments, some sounds that add a particularly daunting feeling in you, such as the occasional playing of an instrument for a second and a wooden wind chime-like sound that judders up and down your spine. The game also enjoys putting you at the end of corridors with something else at the other end, with nowhere else for you to go but forward – like a test of mettle. Sometimes you have reason to be cautious; others you’re simply being toyed with.

Dreadout


“When a group of high school student astray from their vacation trip, they discover an old deserted town. Soon they realized that something sinister is about to happen when they entered the town.”


What really stood out was the behaviour of the ghost and its trickery – the best moments made put you at unease, but for a split-second you questioned your perception of the danger, giving away to a slightly false sense of security. In other words, Dreadout manages to give you the sense of being haunted by one of East Asia’s fabled mythical ghosts, and it manages to be fairly harrowing at times, so I can only imagine that the full version of the game is going to get further under the skin. My favorite moment could have been straight out of a horror movie: you see your friend, who laughs at you for being scared. She then tells you to follow her before running off and seemingly disappearing, leaving you to find where she went by yourself. Going upstairs, you go around a corner and see a corridor with a single door open at the end. When you get to the door you can see through the windows into that room and notice that your friend is in there right in the corner, staring at the wall, and there are black stains all around the walls. You end up investigating just like all the stupid horror film protagonists.

Your one safety in the game is your camera phone as by using this, you can see the ghosts as they approach you, and by taking pictures, they are expelled, at least for a moment. You also use it to see other things that you can’t with your normal vision, so you end up relying on it when scared. But the problem for you is that you abandon the fairly tight third-person camera and bring the view further in to first-person, and that leaves you vulnerable to hauntings from behind and to the side. Basically, Dreadout’s promise of being for those who enjoyed Fatal Frame is quite right, so try out the demo if think it’s the kind of survival-horror experience you’re after. Oh, but that fly you come across – that thing has got to go! THE most annoying thing I have ever come across. The cat’s alright, though. That can stay.