Editor’s Note: BBYK will be featuring a number of reviews and suggestions this gift-giving season. Matt Alexander brings you this review of a PC/PS4 horror game that might be perfect for the bro in your life that enjoyed Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. Be warned, it’s pretty gory. -Viet
“Lithium: Inmate 39” is the Abe’s Oddyssey of this generation. However, this younger sibling of the puzzle platformer genre has goth hair and some weird fetishes, leaving the game developer parents wondering where they went wrong.
The story is a mystery and a psychological thriller. Like many horror games, the protagonist is grossly outmatched by the enemies, leaving brains to outmatch brawn. The brains, however, have clouded memories and a whole slew of issues to work through. The game starts out in media res when the main character wakes up a runs around in his boxers. You may or may not be imagining what’s going on, but the scenery draws you in anyway. Meticulous use of shadow and light would make Caravaggio proud, and also a little disgusted. The disciplined use of color is just as jarring as the stark black and white.
The gameplay is basic, starting off with buttons for striking, acting, crouching, running, and jumping. Striking is useless at first, as you play a teensy lemur in boxers, but you can wind up one of the many clocks to turn our, er, hero into a bigger and more powerful version of himself so you can fight off bouncing arms that die in a cathartic explosion of blood and horse whinnies…
(from one psychotic to another, whoever thought this up needs serious help)
The horrors differ from chapter to chapter, but our hero remains the loveable, bloodthirsty psychopath we sort of come to know through the writings and voice overs. The voice acting and script are a tad weak. The notes you find elucidate the backstory of the (various?) inmates, but there is a lot left to the imagination, which lends to the terror. Wonky controls and semi-fixed camera angles add a bit of horror but a lot of frustration.
Some of the views are horrendous, and not in the “wow, this game is scary and awesome” way. This frequently leads to missteps. Fortunately there are frequent checkpoints, because you will die a lot in the most gruesome ways.
This game is absolutely disturbing and might not be the healthiest choice for anyone, but it is great fun. The use of simple and limited controls amid a well-developed setting make this game worthy of attention and trepidation.
Made by Canu Arts, a small game developer in Costa Rica. Remind me not to go there.
7.5/10 brofists (7 + 1 handful of psychotropic medication)