Uncanny Valley Review

2017-02-08-052120

Game Title: Uncanny Valley
Developer: Cowardly Creations, Digerati Distribution
Platform: PlayStation Vita
Game Type: Vita
Download: 83 MB
NA Availability: Digital Download
EU Availability: Digital Download
PSTV Support: No

Side-Scrolling Horror experiences were never really my thing until last year.  I’m a lover of the horror genre, but most of that love comes from franchises like Parasite Eve, Silent Hill, and especially Resident Evil.  All of them are 3D horror franchises and have rarely dived into the 2D realm, outside of Resident Evil Gaiden for the Game Boy Color.

But last year, a little horror game called Claire changed my mind.  It was a 2D side-scrolling horror game with a story that hit me right where it hurts the most.  Since then, I’ve been far more open to 2D horror games than I ever was before.

So today, I have a new 2D horror game that was originally on PC but recently came to the PS4 and Vita both.  Here’s my review of Uncanny Valley!

Story

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The story of Uncanny Valley revolves around a Security Officer named Tom, whom is plagued by Night Terrors.  You control Tom from his first day at a new Security Officer and through the days that follow, along with his recurring and disturbing nightmares.

Plot-wise, Uncanny Valley is hard to follow because of how much it jumps around.  The way the game switches between the night terrors and the real world, it’s very hard to distinguish which is which.  One minute you’re in the middle of walking home and the next, you’re running from a giant face thing that is coming out of the wall, and then you wake up seemingly in an entirely different part of his life where he’s married to the house cleaning lady that you seemingly meet only days before.

Not to say that it’s a terrible story, because it does get interesting, but it’s really hard to follow and because of that, really never seemed that thrilling to me.

Gameplay

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Much like Claire, this is a 2D side-scrolling game that has a focus on exploration, finding items, and solving puzzles with said items.  There are also some combat elements introduced later on in the game when you have weapons at your disposal.

Unlike Claire, though, you’re not continually trapped in a ghost-filled building.  You go through Tom’s daily life of patrolling the Security Office, going home to his Apartment, and continuing the next day.  You can freely explore the apartment, environments outside, and the station itself, and depending on what you do, things may proceed in a different way.

For example, you can sleep all day and not go to work if you want, and things may skip to a different nightmare or just go to the next day, or diligently patrol every day.  There are a lot of different things you can do which will affect future story events as well as endings you get when you complete the game.  In this sense, there is a fair bit of freedom and not linearity that most side-scrolling indie games like this have.

Now, I said above that there are exploration elements.  As you explore each area, you will be able to find items to collect and use later, large objects to push into place to be able to access new areas, and terminals to access in order to get key info for unlocking doors.  There are some of these types of things in the normal, daily life of Tom, but they’re far more apparent when the night-terrors take over, since most of them have you trapped and having to solve some puzzle in order to escape.

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Of course, exploring isn’t without dangers.  In many areas, particularly in the night terrors, there will be horrible, obscene, terrible monsters that will chase after you if they see you.  So, you have to be able to navigate around them as well as do your normal exploration.

The overall experience is pretty short.  One trek through the game should take you roughly 2-3 hours to complete.  There is replayability through multiple playthroughs for different endings but any one go will not take very long.

Controls

Despite having very few touch controls and no motion/camera controls, this game is not compatible with the PlayStation TV.

The control scheme isn’t too hard and, unlike some other indies, they are explained to you in the tutorial.  Moving about is done with the D-Pad and the shoulder buttons are used for running and picking up items.  The X button is used for interacting with doors and puzzles, Square is use for the Flashlight.

There are some light touch controls, too.  When you hit Select to open the inventory, you access it with touch controls as well as the Main Menu.

Presentation

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Graphically, the game has a pixel-like structure and design to look like an old-school side-scroller.  Tied with the dark environments and the creepy bits of music.  This works well, but the graphics, themselves, are not as refined as they should be.  Many of the backgrounds and pixel-like, but they end up very blurry, which is difficult to look at.

Now, performance.  I know what you’re thinking.  It’s a 2D side-scroller with a simple design.  How could it possibly have performance issues?  Well, loading times are fine, but in many of the nightmare sequences, you get slowdown which is very strange.

Summary

Uncanny Valley is a 2D horror game that does provide a dark, albeit confusing experience.  But with its many faults from the story and length to the performance issues, not to mention the fact that it costs more than the Steam version (resulting in you chucking out almost $15 for 2-3 hours of gameplay), it may be something horror fans want to wait on a sale to give a go. 

5/10

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