Those Who Remain - Review
A lucid Nightmare
Welcome to Dormont! A sleepy town in rural America where everything is great, especially for our main character Edward. He has it all a wife who loves him, a kid who looks up to him and a roof over his head. So why is or protagonist 6 whiskeys deep and playing with a gun when we first meet him? We here at 3-Bit have braved the horrors that await us in indie developer Camel 101’s Those Who Remain to bring you the review of this highly anticipated indie title, which is out now on PC, PlayStation4 and Xbox one, with it joining the Nintendo Switch family this summer
When I first played Those Who Remain I had no idea what to. I am one of those people who likes to go into his games blind and let the game surprise me, and surprised I was. At first, I felt clunky and limiting in terms of what I could do, with walking and interacting being my only options as I wander around a motel trying to find my “objective”. Those Who Remain offers very little guidance for you to progress the story, purposely offering very limited information. An example of this is when you get the instruction “Find your way across the house” as the only information you will receive in reaching your goal. I for one enjoyed the minimal information as it led me on a journey of discovery during the game’s nightmare fueled levels.
There is only one objective you truly need to worry about though in Those Who Remain and that is STAY IN THE LIGHT! The core gameplay is primarily an array of challenging puzzles to keep you out of the dark, escape your location and more importantly stay alive! Each level has one common factor to keep you in the light and that is that you are perpetually surrounded by horrifying silhouettes of what we can only assume were once people? These Silhouettes own the darkness and all it takes is one wrong step out of the light, to fall victim to them. The silhouettes are not the only horrifying element of Those Who Remain however, there is a whole roster of Horrifying nightmares that chase you through the levels, each more terrifying than the last, making for an incredibly shocking experience.
As I mentioned above you are quite limited in your actions in Those Who Remain, with no option to crouch behind the sofa and hide or to fight back, it is genuinely like being in a nightmare. Whilst this does seem intentional, I feel that having the option to crouch and hide would add a whole new dynamic to the game. You can walk, sprint, pick up objects and put them back down and that is all you can do throughout the game. There is quite literally no fight in the “fight or flight” response we all live by when met with fear and adrenaline. The controls to Those Who Remain are heavy too, as even on the highest sensitivity your character moves relatively slowly when turning. Although this is frustrating it does feel intentional, as it adds to how helpless you are in the situation that you have been forced into. Much like how the original Resident Evil made you feel with the tank controls.
Those Who Remains’ Psychological element is all about tough decisions, as you take the role of Judge, Jury and Executioner. You must gather the clues as to why trapped souls committed the crime they did, before judging as to whether they are to be forgiven or condemned. These decisions often delve into some very grey areas, including the likes of covering a crime to protect a child, or to condemn somebody who played a prank that went wrong. These Decisions make you question your own morality, forcing you to make some incredibly tough choices as you immerse yourself in Edwards journey.
If you have seen the movie Dunkirk you will know all too well, how a soundtrack can make your heart race bringing with it fear, anxiety and suspense. Those Who Remain absolutely nails this aspect too! As you walk through dimly lit corridors, enclosed rooms, and desolate streets this soundtrack enhances the gameplay tenfold, with varying changes in the music such as, off key instrumentals, intense build ups and explosive changes to the tempo and theme. There are moments during in the game where the soundtrack has made all the difference as it adds to the severity of the situation that you are in, amplifying just how terrifying your challenge really is.
When it comes to voice acting, Those Who Remain hits the nail on the head. Though the cast is relatively unknown to the world, they do a superb job of portraying their characters and their array of emotions (or lack thereof). The audio is crisp and clear with no background noise from the recording, which puts it a cut above the rest when compared to other indie horror titles.
Graphically Those Who Remain is relatively OK. The textures are there albeit a bit flat on occasion and if I were to compare to other titles, I would put it on par with that of the early BioShock titles. The graphics are clear with everything accurately representing what it is supposed to be, however the reflections at times appear to be quite strong. If the game had a bit more polish to it, it could be on par with a lot of AAA tiles, that we see from the likes of larger developers. However, this is from an Indie Developer and for this level of graphics to come from a small team impressed me none the less.
When playing Those Who Remain I did experience issues with the lighting during certain sequences. The settings were constantly either too bright or too dark and finding that happy medium even with their guidelines was a challenge, which was unfortunate being that the core parts of the game is extremely well built.
Story- as twisted as Shyamalan.
Those Who Remain brings a disturbing and twisted story to life. As mentioned before, you play as Edward. A man who has everything you could ever want in life. However, he also has a bit of a dark side too. We join Edward as he is on his way to break off a secret affair, but as he approaches the motel to meet his lover, the night suddenly goes from bad to worse. Edward’s car is stolen, and darkness suddenly engulfs his town. As Edward tries to return home, his path becomes blocked by sinister silhouettes and this is where our suspenseful journey begins. As we progress this sinister story, we meet a young woman and a masked man, who between them are able to manipulate Edward into becoming their Judge Jury and Executioner. Those Who Remains story is one filled with unpredictable jump scares, horrifying creatures and twist and turns that will leave you questioning every decision you are forced to do.
Summary- Judge, Jury, Executioner.
Overall, Those Who Remain is a fantastic indie title that brought great elements of fear and psychology to the table. Though a little bit unrefined the story and gameplay alone make for an incredible title, that made me feel and question my own morals. That is why I am giving Those Who Remain an 8/10. Those Who Remain delivers on exactly what it promises and in no way does it under achieve in them, however it is just missing a bit of polish in certain areas, such as lighting and textures to have made this a truly perfect title. I hope all of you at home enjoy this incredible title as much as we have!