By Dalton McClain / May 1st, 2018
|Title||PLAY WITH ME|
|Release Date||January 17th, 2018|
A Saw-esque video game is what fans of the franchise have been clamoring for since the series’ inception, myself included. So whenever I heard about a game being touted as “a game created by the very Jigsaw,” I was immediately interested. This was a topic that I always thought was a real fit for video games, but I hadn’t really seen it done well. So did PLAY WITH ME outperform, or did it just leave me feeling trapped?
At this point in my life I’m used to the normal look of this game genre, but these visuals still somehow managed to impress me. It’s not necessarily the actual art, even though that is really good as well. Rather, it’s the whole design of it. The style of the game is really highlighted by subtle things that you might not even notice, like the lighting and shadow effects. The game’s visuals both match and enhance the creepy and eerie tone of the game. The animations, as well, are simple but effective. Something like a chandelier swinging is enough to drastically change an area, and it seems like a lot of thought was put into details like that. With as much time as you’ll spend scouring every last nook and cranny for clues, you’ll really start to appreciate the level of detail that went into the art design.
If there was one thing I could complain about in this game, it’s the sound. Sound design is really important in horror media, and while this one isn’t the worst I’ve ever heard, it really does drag the game down. There’s not really a soundtrack in this game, which I was expecting because a game like this doesn’t really call for one. The problem then lies with just the noises in general. The ambient noise is nice for a while, but it really does start to lose its effect after a good amount of time. The noises you hear when activating things are okay, but I just can’t be too thrilled about the jump scare noise. While most of this game does rely on ambiance, which it does really well, it does have the occasional loud sound effect to make the player jump. For me it happened all too often in the game and really pulled me out of the experience. To me, jump scares are great in horror media when used sparingly. However, if they’re used as often as they are in this game then they only tend to annoy me more than scare me. The voice acting is really cheesy and campy, but I really just found that this adds to the charm of the game. Being a fan of older slasher movies, it was a real nostalgic treat to hear. Since the game came out it has been redubbed for English audiences, but it’s still got the campy charm from when it was first released. I much prefer the newer actors, and they really do improve the game a lot.
The story is something I really loved about PLAY WITH ME. It starts out simple enough with the main character waking up in a room handcuffed with his wife missing, having seemingly been kidnapped by a serial killer that he just so happened to have an obsession with writing about in the paper. As the game moves on you’re given more and more exposition, and the story begins to weave together until you’re left with a really satisfying twist ending. While it doesn’t have the most fleshed out characters in the world, PLAY WITH ME still delivers a really good story that I enjoyed all the way to the end.
Finally, we reach the best part about this game: the mechanics. This game has single handedly kept me more interested than most of the indie games that I’ve played. That’s because this game is a point-and-click puzzle game, but with the exciting twist of it being really realistic. I haven’t seen many games in this genre do that, and I was really excited to dive into the controls and see what else I could do. Instead of pointing and clicking to light a match, you actually have to click and drag it across the box to light it. There are other things like using rags to wipe side to side to clean messes, but I can’t venture too far into that without giving puzzle solutions. So you’ll just have to go and find out for yourself! I also had to use real world objects quite a few times, which isn’t really seen much anymore in modern games. Things like holding a mirror up to the screen, taking long and complex notes, etc. It was really nice being able to out think a lot of these puzzles while most games like this would usually just go for obtuse solutions, even though this game did have its fair share of those too. The use of the phone was clever too with it being able to make notes and receive messages that could help lead you in the right direction. If I had any issue at all it would be that some of the puzzles with strange solutions were really annoying to figure out. However, with five different endings and the puzzles being seemingly random with each playthrough, this game has the replayability to outweigh a lot of its glaring issues.
In the end, I really loved PLAY WITH ME. It’s a really fun and challenging game that required me to use a lot of techniques to solve the different puzzles. For about $10 you really couldn’t find a better game. Despite its issues, I still had a blast playing and would gladly try it again to get a new ending. I played it for about seven hours, and with the multiple different ways to go about things it’s definitely worth the money.
Review copy provided by the publisher
airemhorroriq publishingplay with mepoint and click