A mysterious mansion, a group of friends, and a blog. This is the premise of Creeping Terror, the latest horror game to come out of Aksys Games. Check out my thoughts below and play the game for yourself…if you dare!
Creeping Terror follows Arisa as she tries to unlock the mystery of a mysterious mansion, a creepy cult, and herself. Exploring an abandoned mansion with her friends Emily, Bob, and Ken for Bob’s blog channel, Arisa ends up separated when part of the building collapses. Finding herself suddenly in an old mine, Arisa must navigate back to the surface to reunite with her friends. But, she must avoid perils along the way, lest she end up dead.
That description makes the game sound so much better than it actually is. Having only known this game is supposed to be a sort of spiritual successor to the Clocktower series (one of my faves) I had high hopes going into it. However, the story is much weirder and convoluted than I glossed over above.
Arisa spends much of the story looking for her friends, collecting journal entries, or exploring one of three places: the mine, the mansion, and the hospital. All three places share one connection: a cult, and an old family. The cult resided in the mansion, but cult members were experimented on in the hospital on the same property, and the experimentations resulted in mutation and death. The mine once belonged to the family, and may or may not have been used for cult purposes as well. It’s like the studio took cool things from some major horror games and jumbled them together to form a Frankenplot.
On top of three main locations, Creeping Terror has three main villains: a mutated miner, a cultist, and a dog. Through journal entries and reports, we learn that the miner is a member of the family that owned the mansion. This miner also participated in the cult activities and experiments, and is related to Ken in some way. The cultist is obsessed with Arisa for reasons I couldn’t determine. As far as I know, the dog didn’t have a nefarious plot and just exists to make life difficult.
The plot progresses on an objective based system. In order to move forward, you need to meet the current objective, be it exploring a location, or finding a specific item. As a side-scroller, Creeping Terror only lets you interact with specific objects, be they helpful items or plot devices. Everything else just blends in with the background. With nothing to interact with, it can quickly become difficult to determine how to progress with the objective. There was one point where I needed to find an item, but had explored all available rooms without success. I ended up needing to go outside the mansion so a crow could steal my item, which allowed me to go back inside and investigate the crow’s nest on the roof for a now revealed item.
Moments like that, along with a lack of distinguishable difference to rooms on your map can quickly become exasperating. However, interacting with the three villains can also lead to some confusing moments. I very quickly figured out that if there’s red mist on the ground, a villain is nearby. When you cross their path, you must quickly find a room with a hiding spot to wait out the villain.
It was at this point that I started referring to the game as Creeping Frustrations. I was so frustrated the only thing I could do was insult the game. Outside of combat, Arisa can run for as long as she pleases. Once in combat though, her ability to run away is based on a meter which quickly wears down. The meter needs to refill before you can run, and if the meter empties, you must wait for it to completely refill before running again. This, combined with a lack of distinguishable rooms, had me nearly pulling my hair out in anger. The only good thing about the combat was it always occurred when I was on the right path to solving the objective.
The good news is that This is a game you will be able to beat quickly. It took me about 3 hours to beat the game with a 97% completion; about three days’ worth of commuting on the MBTA. One thing to note though is that there are multiple endings. I beat my game and got Ending A, which I’m assuming is the good ending. The only conclusion I can come to is that the ending you get is based on the amount of journal excerpts and research clippings you collect.
There isn’t much of a personal brand present in Creeping Terror. The characters all lack facial features, which reminded me of those creepy Amish dolls. Other than that, the graphics were similar to those found on the SNES. For a game that doesn’t have much happening in terms of action, it’s pretty unforgivable that it was rendered so poorly.
I don’t have a problem with Creeping Terror drawing similarities from other successful franchises, but I have a problem with its execution. It honestly feels like the studio thought they made it enough like Resident Evil, Silent Hill, and Clocktower, they could phone in the rest. If the game were a little more interactive and deep, I’d cut them some slack and appreciate their homages a little more. But with how the story progresses, the controls, and lack of personalization, it’s hard to feel sympathetic.
- There are worse things to spend $9 on
- Short gameplay makes it perfect for those on a commute
- The game confuses imitation and inspiration
- The plot got lost in the mines
- The graphics were a failed cult experiment