Edited by: Tiffany Lillie
While certainly a little rough around the edges, Song of Horror’s preview shows a great deal of promise. It’s always a pleasure to see a horror game with a clear vision. Song of Horror is fast approaching its intended October release, while it shows all the typical signs of an early build. But Song of Horror’s preview quite genuinely blew my expectations out of the water, because it offers a confident blend of game mechanics seen in other titles that just might create a truly unique experience.
Terror in the Music
There isn’t much to say on the premise of Song of Horror’s story without giving away some of the more vital information. To keep it vague, you’re sent to explore the manor of an author who has suddenly vanished out of the blue. How an author got the money to afford a manor in the first place is a mystery unto itself, but the economic viability of the poet aside, you have your adventure set and it’s time to explore the dark and brooding manor… And, oh boy, is it dark.
Visually, the game’s quality is presently in a somewhat weird state. The environment itself is quite good, emphasized by the brooding and, honestly, fantastic lighting work. Character models, on the other hand, are still nothing to scoff at, but visibly lacking to the environment that surrounds them and their animations can be a little clunky at times. In a way, this almost helps provide an honest sense of nostalgia as it feels reminiscent to the pre-rendered environments seen in older horror games like Resident Evil. Your characters may not exactly be a treat to look at, but the manor certainly is!
Don’t Get Caught
While there was only a small selection of the game to explore, the gameplay shows a great sense of promise for what’s to come in the final title. Song of Horror promises a diverse cast of characters for you to choose from, and this will be the defining aspect of what makes this game different. Every character has their own perspective on the environment and the story, offering their unique point of view to the audience while offering skills and stats that other characters might not have. With that in mind, it’s clear that some areas of the map may be exclusive or easier to access for certain characters, which provides encouragement for you to roam more than once through the same areas to see what you might be able to pick up on that you couldn’t before.
Stats are a curious addition as they affect how your character can interact with parts of the environment and, more importantly, with The Presence. The Presence is the mandatory and typically vague title for the eldritch horror stalking through the manor. How you interact with the creature is dependent upon you and those stats are fairly important in this regard because it can mean that you’ll want to run, hide, or barricade a door depending upon who you choose to play. That in itself is an important aspect of your characters to keep in mind, because if you mess up The Presence can and will kill you.
Oh, did I forget to mention that there’s Permadeath? Oh, yes: When your character kicks the bucket they are gone from the story and you’ll have to pick up the pieces of that failed investigation with your next character of choice. With hope, the final product of the game should help reinforce this by providing a sense of irreplaceable connection to each character, encouraging the players to see each loss as something to be avoided at all costs rather than just a minor setback to the previous checkpoint. The preview build only offered two characters to test the waters with, but they did have enough variety between one another that their experience didn’t feel like just a rehash from one another.
While it may have been only a brief preview, Song of Horror shows genuine promise for what could be a very successful horror game.