Shutter 2 by Cosmic Logic
In Shutter 2 by Cosmic Logic, you control a robot as it explores and uncovers the mystery surrounding an abandoned prison.
This mystery is slowly uncovered via inmates’ diary pages scattered around the map. These pages detail tragic events and plot details to shine more light on the situation.
Welcome to the Dark Side
The more I explored the creepy, uninhabited prisons, the more I was taken aback by how visually dark it all was. The atmosphere is thick. It reminded me a lot of survival horror titles of the past. It’s something that the first game nailed, as well, but definitely more this time around. But the more I played, the more I really had trouble making a lot of things out.
Its thick atmosphere comes at the expense of playability. Interactable objects frequently blend in with the static objects, making things like keys or diary pages difficult to spot. Even all the textures in Shutter 2 seem to share a similar color palette, making items even more difficult to make out.
The third-person camera option helps somewhat but is limited by having the robot obscure a portion of the screen. Even the robot’s night vision mode doesn’t help much. This could be an intentional design choice, but it makes exploration and finding items in the game more challenging. I eventually had to turn up the brightness of my monitor to make things a bit clearer.
Things aren’t all doom and gloom, though. The core gameplay loop is still fun. Finding diary pages progresses the narrative, and found items can be used to unlock doors to unexplored areas. There are even puzzle rooms that require you to take pictures of things referenced in the pages found within the area.
It’s classic survival horror, which means a lot of exploration to be had.
On top of these things I also had to defeat a number of ghosts. Once defeated, I had to quickly take a picture of them before the remnants of their dead spectral forms disappeared. These pictures can be uploaded for money, which can then be used to purchase upgrades.
Attacking ghosts also drains the robot’s battery, so I had to manage my battery life, waiting for it as it slowly recharged or making sure I knew where the nearest battery recharge station was before it was completely drained. Each recharge station also has a limited number of recharges, which adds some challenge and good old survival horror management into the game.
If the battery is completely drained, I had to go on foot to retrieve the robot while avoiding the ghosts attacking me in the process. This made for some tense, harrowing sequences that were genuinely scary – mainly because on foot, I had no means to fight back.
Purchasing upgrades helped make ghost-hunting easier, but it took a while to achieve. For example, some of the first couple of upgrades I could buy cost $3000, and early on, each picture of a ghost provides only $300.
Since I didn’t have many ways of making money, the upgrade system felt like a grind. Ghosts who are defeated respawn but cannot be photographed again for money. I get that this is meant to cause more challenge, but it ends up adding to the grind.
Ghosts and Glitches
There are also some gameplay quirks and some lack of polish in a couple of places, like the ability to only take a couple of photos at a time. When this first happened, I was confused until I figured out that I couldn’t take more photographs until I uploaded the prior ones I had taken.
Also, I could see my mouse cursor over the entire game, which was a bit distracting. The third-person camera is also a little wonky, especially in tight spaces. The in-game map is also not very helpful, since there is no icon on it to show your current location.
I also, unfortunately, got stuck on geometry a couple of times. These are all little things that affected my experience with this game, and some could be more subjective than others, but either way, they are issues that can be corrected in the future via updates.
Spooky Sounds in the Darkness
Shutter 2’s audio design is fantastic. From the sounds of footsteps here and there to random clangs in the distance, it’s all well implemented. The music is sparsely used to great effect. Synth pianos and stringed instruments reminded me of the early Resident Evil games.
The cacophonous, whistling sound of approaching ghosts was also very effective at creating some tense sequences. It made the environment feel more foreboding to explore and aided in making a great horror atmosphere.
Shutter 2 is an ambitious horror game that stumbles in a couple of places. Some of the rough edges and gameplay issues got in the way of my fun.
It’s a challenging experience that will appeal to those looking for one. But keep in mind that it’ll require some patience when it comes to certain aspects of the game. These issues may turn off some, but overall I enjoyed my time with the game because of its thick atmosphere and fun gameplay loop.
Shutter 2 is available via Steam.
Check out the official trailer for Shutter 2 below: