That first back alley where the strange meat monsters corner you and strike you down with absolutely no way to defend yourself: I quite literally did a NOPE, dropped the disc back in the case, and took it back to my friend. He asked if I liked it, and I gave a quick "yeah, pretty coolHEY WHAT ABOUT THIS CONVERSATION THAT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH IT" in order to avoid it. It seemed...more real to me. Even though the characters in Resident Evil had more to them, the generic dude fighting the faceless monsters...well, not fighting, just dying by them...proved too much for me.
So, fast forward to the present, when Curve Studios started talking about the upcoming Lone Survivor: Director's Cut. Jasper Byrne was offering a retro-themed survival horror experience. I knew I wasn't much of a horror fan, but something in me wanted to try this. A game that if the colors were simpler, could have been pulled off in Atari's age. Our nameless hero starts out with a simple interact button and the ability to move and go through doors. I seriously thought "how bad can this be?" and put my Reviewer's Hat into the ring for a demonstration.
The graphics in this game really do a number on you. They seem simple, but small tricks, smears of color, quick blinks, and sudden changes really draw you in. Now it's not you controlling a character, it's YOU experiencing the situation. Things happen that make you question your character's sanity. The faceless, unrelenting pixelated monsters hit that generic-enough-to-be-creepy level. When the graphics leave room for imagination, it's quite scary what your mind can make up.
Boiled down to it's base, this game follows the survival horror motif perfectly. You're alone, find supplies, survive/get out/meet people/stop the bad stuff. And yet, even through the low-key graphics, the game hit that Silent Hill NOPE spot for me. Returning to your same bed over and over to sleep and save makes you wonder if what you're doing is even helping, or if it's all in futility. You get excited to find other survivors, only to leave the room and return a second later to see them turned into monsters...yet they couldn't have turned that fast...so what is happening to you?
Lone Survivor is a perfect example of what games would have been made had video game technology ran about 20 years later than it did. It's got a modern twist on a retro look that somehow makes something out of the Super NES era give me the same feeling of dread I got from the first Silent Hill. As of writing this review, I'm officially rating the game as a big NOPE/10. Will I get back to it? I seriously don't know. I feel like 9 out of the next 10 times I go to play a game, I'm going to hover over this icon on my XMB, aim for the X button, then scan on and go play something fluffy on my Wii U. But for horror fans, comments like that are precisely why you want to play games like this.
Lone Survivor: Director's Cut is a cross-buy with Vita and currently is on the PSN Store for $12.99 ($11.69 for Plus members). Go get it at this link--if you dare!
"NOPE" gif image courtesy of memecenter.com