Horror game Those Who Remain weaponizes the dark

Those Who Remain is a dark, foggy, moody horror title reminiscent of Silent Hill and P.T., blending first-person exploration with dimension shifting puzzles and shambling monsters. It’s not the first horror title from Camel101, who released the sci-fi survival horror Syndrome in 2016, but Those Who Remain trades sci-fi trappings for a more mundane supernaturality.

The game follows the story of everyman Edward Turner as he searches for a missing woman in the sleepy Washington town of Dormont.

Ricardo and Bruno Casteiro, two brothers and founding members of Camel101, explain that the game is not meant to be strictly a horror title. It’s not a game with a huge number of jump scares; it’s more a game focused on the tension of always having eyes on you. These ghostly, spectral eyes belong to all the shadowy figures lurking just outside of the light’s edges.

Dormont is a haunted town. Not by ghosts, exactly, but by a pervasive darkness that blankets its buildings and residences. In the darkness, there are humanoid figures with glowing eyes, motionless and watching. With the smallest amount of light they’ll disappear, but if you happen to wander into the dark for anything other than the briefest moment, they’ll drag you down into a quick and violent death. Along with the figures in the dark, there is a mysterious alternate reality accessed through glowing blue doors, which transports the player into a mirror world where the rules of gravity and physicality aren’t quite the same.

Gameplay in Those Who Remain quickly becomes a tense and spooky puzzle. I needed to stay in the light and travel to my destination while manipulating the few power sources in the area. In one sequence, I had to make sure that the road ahead was lit before I could continue, so I had to walk into partially lit house to solve a puzzle and clear my path. With the ghostly figures in the darkness just inches away, I grabbed a spare fuse for a generator outside. It’s a very unnerving horror experience, bolstered by the incredibly high-detail textures and models of Dormont, reminiscent of P.T.’s near-photorealistic aesthetic.

When my path became blocked by more physical barriers, often a trip into the alternate universe is necessary, where gravity is lighter and certain aspects of the world may be different. In order to make sure a car’s headlights safely illuminated a path behind a gas station, I had to enter the mirror world and move a heavy wood pallet out of the way. In the regular world, this was too much for my character, but in the floaty dream-like alternate world, it was trivial.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/CvagP_-aFAw?rel=0

The game seems to be built around these puzzle-type interactions, with specific care taken to always remind me of my own fragility. Later sections include faster enemies, as seen in the trailer, but the bulk of the game will include the aspects of “safe in the light, dangerous in the dark” that underpin its traversal puzzles. My demo was scary, especially thanks to those lurking shadow figures, but we’ll have to wait until the release of the game (projected for later in this year) to see if it holds up for its entire playtime.

Those Who Remain is slated to release in 2019 on Mac, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows PC, and Xbox One.

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