I hate being so critical towards indie titles.
Many independent developers have a small team of people and little to no budget, which makes it difficult to compete with larger and more established companies. Some titles even have one developer behind them, and the work that one person can do can be quite an achievement. Even if the amount of work done by one person is impressive, though, that doesn’t mean the game will be successful or effective. Case in point: Feelings Adrift. Feelings Adrift was developed and published by Dénis Múrias. Keeping in mind that he created this game presumably alone, and that it appears to be his first title (as he has no other titles on Steam or search results online), I consider Feelings Adrift to be an interesting idea with some creative elements, but which ultimately feels much more like an experiment of what the horror genre is capable of than an overall satisfying gaming experience.
Feelings Adrift doesn’t work like most other titles in the horror genre, as in you don’t have a single objective or storyline to follow. Instead, there are several different attractions in a creepy amusement park, which acts as a hub world. Each attraction is like a mini-game, with its own rules and gameplay (as well as a star rating, which shows how scary the experience is). The gameplay of these attractions varies, ranging from simply exploring an area and completing puzzles to collecting a certain amount of items, or just surviving for as long as possible. The variations of gameplay help stave off the feelings of monotony that are in other horror games and give Feelings Adrift more replay value, but are very bare bones in their design. There isn’t much more to the gameplay than what I mentioned above, and some of the attractions get boring fairly quickly, particularly when you notice how unintelligent and random the AI is. It seems like the enemies have no line of sight and only see you when you’re right next to them. I appreciate the simplicity of these attractions, but more features would give each of them a more solid identity and depth for replayablity. It honestly felt like I was playing cheaper and shallower versions of more successful horror titles, and I ended up playing each attraction for a short amount of time, with little incentive to replay them.
Though its gameplay is uninspired, Feelings Adrift has great visual design. Especially on high graphical settings, the amusement park and individual attractions have fine details and look quite realistic. One aspect of the visuals I really enjoyed was the color schemes used. Feelings Adrift has a nice contrast between bright and vibrant colors and dark and menacing tones, which helps support the ominous atmosphere and amusement park theme. It’s clear to see that a large amount of time went into level design, too. Each playable level looks realistic and fleshed out, and creates an eerie environment to explore. As impressive as the level designs are though, the character and enemy designs are, to be frank, ugly, and not in a horrifying kind of way. Each monster looks extremely fake, like some sort of cheap costume or picture found in a Halloween store. These designs have the intention of being sinister and threatening, but just come off as forced and campy. This diminishes the overall value that the scares in Feelings Adrift have. It’s hard to be terrified of an enemy that looks like a big blob of clay or a stock zombie image. In fact, there were plenty of times where I ended up laughing at the ridiculousness of the enemies in front of me.
On the subject of scares, I should point out that, although the level design and visuals create a tense atmosphere, all of the actual scares are just jump scares. Feelings Adrift relies so heavily on them that the title may as well be, “Jump Scare, the Game.” A jump scare is the building block of the horror genre, and I have no problems with it being used in moderation. But, when every minute or so (sometimes even less), another jump scare happens, it becomes predictable and gimmicky. Once you experience the same monsters and images pop up and scream in your face over and over, then even the jump scare value falls flat and you’re left with a feeling of being cheated. Never while playing did I feel threatened or afraid of whatever creature(s) I was up against in the attraction I was in. I only was thinking to myself when the next jump scare would happen, and it didn’t take long for me to know exactly when to anticipate it.
Like the gameplay, the sounds used in feelings adrift are also uninspired.
The music choices used in the attractions are creepy and fitting for their respective environments, like a creepily cheerful melody for an amusement park maze, and a darker and gloomier sound for a dilapidated hospital, but it’s exactly what you would expect. Most of the music I even recognized from other sources. The sound effects too, appear to be stock. Some of the zombie moaning, for instance, sounded awfully similar to the ones found in Left 4 Dead. These sound effects also don’t have a variation in intensity in relation to distance. For example: if a zombie is nearby, you’ll hear a zombie’s moaning, no matter where it is. This not only makes it difficult to determine exactly where an enemy is located, but is incredibly unrealistic. Hearing a low and soft sound from far away that gradually gets louder the closer it gets to you increases the tension of the situation, since you know that the louder the noise is, the closer the threat is to you. In contrast, hearing a sound with the same volume and intensity has no varying levels of fear or tension, and again, feels gimmicky.
Overall, Feelings Adrift is not a scary game. The visuals do create the potential for some great scares, but the enemy designs and stock sound effects make it difficult for these scares to be achieved. The concept is interesting, but there’s not much depth or creativity in the gameplay, which makes it a chore to play sometimes. Despite my criticism though, I would still recommend Feelings Adrift to those who are looking for some cheap scares, particularly to those who enjoy jump scares. There’s enough material and value to get your money’s worth ($8 on Steam), especially since the developer plans on releasing new attractions and updates in the future.