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Song of Horror Preview – Effectively Eerie Exploration and Investigation

Song of Horror Preview – Effectively Eerie Exploration and Investigation
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Platforms:

Windows PC, Steam

Game Name:

Song of Horror

Publisher(s):

Raiser Games

Developer(s):

Protocol Games

Genre(s):

Adventure

Release Date:

October 31st, 2019

Song of Horror by Protocol Games

Due for an October 31st release, appropriately enough, Song of Horror is the debut release from Spanish studio Protocol Games.

While comparisons to classic survival horror games are unavoidable – especially to Alone in the Dark, as you’ll spend a lot of your time in Song of Horror alone and in the dark – the detailed environments and an antagonist driven by AI rather than scripted sequences make this one a game fear addicts can look forward to.

Song of Horror game screenshot, dimly lit mansion

A Haunting House, a Revolving Cast

The game’s central plot involves missing author Sebastian P. Husher and the extremely creepy, creaky empty mansion. (“The House of Husher,” get it? It’s an Edgar Allen Poe reference.)

An exposition-heavy introductory chapter sends Daniel, a low-level lackey for Husher’s publisher, in search of him when his manuscript doesn’t show up, and in an intriguing twist, Daniel too goes missing, setting up one of the game’s more interesting mechanics.

Song of Horror game screenshot, Daniel

Instead of a single protagonist, each chapter gives the player access to several, such as Daniel’s ex-wife, his boss, and others who work directly or indirectly for Husher; his groundskeeper or a technician from his home security company. Each will react slightly differently to clues in Husher’s mansion. Daniel’s ex-wife, for example, is an art dealer who can opine on the paintings in the house with expertise.

Puzzles and Presence

Song of Horror is slightly bogged down by a reliance on classic adventure game puzzles. Inventory and clue-collection puzzles (i.e. the various numbers for a combination lock) are decent if expected, while physical arrangement puzzles like putting fuses into a fuse box in the correct order – something which seems to show up in every adventure game – are as annoying as ever.

Song of Horror game screenshot, fuse box puzzle

I’d have also appreciated camera controls. Song of Horror is a third-person game, and the fixed cameras sometimes made convincing a character to both move and look in a specific direction to examine a clue or interact with an object a real chore.

These minor complaints hardly matter, though, when the game environment is so well-designed that I didn’t even mind dying because it gave me the chance to explore the same objects in the same spooky house from a different character’s eyes.

Song of Horror game screenshot, The Presence

Atmosphere and Apprehension

And we haven’t even gotten to the real meat of things: the horrific antagonist, which the game’s press material refers to only as “the Presence” and which appears – at least at first – as a morass of grasping ghoulish hands and the shadowy tentacles that have become visual shorthand for Lovecraft-inspired cosmic horror.

Adding to the creepiness is that the Presence is driven by artificial intelligence and seems to move around the mansion independently of what your character is doing, requiring constant vigilance.

(Don’t even think of opening a door without listening to what’s on the other side first, even if you’ve already been in that room!)

Song of Horror game animated GIF

Protocol Games do such an excellent job creating tension that it’s hard to pinpoint when it goes from creepy to outright scary; an ancient empty mansion stuffed floor-to-ceiling with dusty artifacts and old hunting trophies is creepy enough even before supernatural stuff starts to happen.

The game’s reliance on a realistic and detailed setting makes the ensuing dread all the more effective – there are comparatively few jump-scares, per se, but Song of Horror will definitely make you jump.

Song of Horror will be available via Steam.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Watch the official Song of Horror trailer below:

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