Game Review #111: Uncanny Valley (Nintendo Switch)
Reviewer: Chad M.
Developer: Cowardly Creations
Category: Action, Adventure, Horror
Release Date: 12.25.2018
Price (at time of review): $9.99
Buy Uncanny Valley from the Nintendo eShop here.
You’re Creepin’ Me Out
The eShop is slowly getting more horror games, which is a nice turn out. I first worried with Nintendo that it would be something very sparse, but more and more seem to be making their way over, and Nintendo seems to be loosening up on their old restrictions. The newest addition to the lineup is Uncanny Valley, which plays like a pixelated adventure-horror game, but with other elements mixed in. The time I spent with Uncanny Valley was a mixed bag that left me with a bittersweet feeling. Let’s jump in and talk about it.
Are You Scared or Sleepy?
Uncanny Valley starts us off in a dream that rips and tears us into reality, as we touch down in a snowy Midwestern town that has a very cozy feel at the start, but quickly takes a turn. You play as Tom, who is immediately greeted by Buck, a guard at your new job at a large creepy office building, where you will be working night shift. Buck being the Paul Blart: Mall Cop of office buildings fits the bill but is also a jerk to boot. This immediately was a problem for me, because I was struggling to connect to Tom and was hoping he’d have some chemistry or camaraderie with Buck, but that never takes either. It really was a continuing arc throughout my experience, as I had trouble investing in any of the characters. He directs you to an apartment building you’ll be staying at, which, when there, you finally meet one other character very briefly.
From this point, you get dressed and head off to work, just like that. When you get there, he lets you know you need to walk the floors and routinely check on things, but you can’t access a certain wing of the building. From there, you go floor to floor and room to room, looking for clues—which was mostly me reading emails and looking everywhere for anything. The game makes you go to sleep after your shift ends to progress the story. From what I could tell, the developers were going for a Lovecraftian style, or even the feel of a David Lynch film. It has a lot of the beats all lined up, but the story seemed disjointed. In horror games, I think the story is so important, and to be honest, I can’t put my finger on the pulse of what this story really is, but it is overall creepy.
Gameplay & Fun Factor
Like the storyline, you aren’t given too much in terms of a lay of the land, as far as what to expect from the gameplay, either. It first comes off like a point-and-click adventure game with horror elements, but the more I played, it felt like a security guard simulator with mild horror and heavy exploration mixed in together. I found myself walking so much that I was blown away. I kept waiting for the shoe to drop, as to open up the story and really pull back the curtain, so to speak, but the further I went, the more it felt underwhelming. Nothing about the game was tough or over complicated, but it just didn’t make sense. I’d be exploring a floor and it’d tell me my shift was over and that I needed to head back to get sleep, but I felt that it was ridiculous to walk all the way back when I had only barely started looking.
Then if I didn’t follow the games direction, my character would literally just lay down and go to sleep in the middle of the floor. As I said before, this obviously was for progression, but it felt so weird. When you sleep, you go into a dream world where you are chased by demons and given small tidbits of story. It always would come in pieces like a puzzle, but it felt like puzzle pieces to multiple different puzzles, and it made it hard to intertwine the story to make sense of it all. I played through multiple times, always meeting a different gory end, but it just felt like there was no real direction to get the ending intended.
Audio & Visuals
The soundtrack is fitting, with an ominous sound that rings true to the intended theme. The sound effects didn’t sound generic or misplaced. They were well done, and even gave more substance when mixed with the old school pixelated graphics. The setting and characters looked good for the most part, except some things would stick out completely. It, at first, felt like a Stephen King novel, and then would take a left turn and go for something altogether different in overall feel, but the game ran well and never stuttered, docked or handheld.
When the game began, I was over the moon with excitement and intrigue, but as I played through, I got really bored just walking around reading emails and clicking everything, hoping it lead to something that would push the game forward in some way. Overall, I liked my first playthrough, but as I played it over and over hunting a good ending that may not exist, I was left a little let down, but I still respect the developers for undertaking a genre that doesn’t always get a lot of attention and love. If into horror games, and you’re okay with multiple playthroughs and exploration, then give it a go. Just set your expectations properly, because I overshot mine, and it left me, as I said, feeling bittersweet.
Buy Uncanny Valley from the Nintendo eShop here.
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