Game review: Those Who Remain (PC)
FYI, this story is more than a year old
Those Who Remain is a first-person horror game with a premise that’ll be very familiar to fans of the Alan Wake games.
Players take on the role of Edward, a man with his own demons. The game starts as Edward searches the Golden Oak Hotel in an attempt to end an illicit affair and get his life together. But his mistress is nowhere to be found.
Then there’s a ringing phone with a voice, a warning perhaps, something about staying in the light.
Leaving the motel, someone steals his car, leaving Edward no choice but to walk into the night to the nearby town of Dormont. But, there’s something in the darkness.
The game borrows the concept of “fighting with light” from Alan Wake but for gameplay that is more along the lines of a puzzle/adventure game than an action game. Players need to find clues and solve problems in order to progress and keep the way ahead lit.
Rather chilling glowing-eye machete-wielding, creatures that continuously watch you from the shadows. It is only by lighting the environment that removes them, making the area safe. Another homage/borrowed concept, this time from John Carpenter’s The Fog: instead of there being something in the fog, there’s something in the dark.
Despite the game’s derivative premise, the developers succeed in creating an eerie experience that is not for the faint-hearted. Several times whilst playing I literally jumped out of my skin when faced with the shadowy creatures. Open a door to a darkened room and they will be standing there right next to you. I was kept on my toes wondering just how far I could actually step away from the illuminated area without getting myself killed. Whatever you do, don’t accidentally turn out the light in the room.
The puzzles range from easy to a little trickier, I can’t say I really got stuck, but there were a few times when I had to pause for thought. Some of the puzzles can only be solved by stepping though lit doors that lead into an alternative version of the environment. Here items float about and can be pushed, displaying some great, but rather under-used physics.
In this place, there are no dark glowing-eye figures and you can safely move about without lights. There are, however other spooky things off to the distance. Items here can be manipulated to affect the real world. This can be from spraying a pesticide to simply switching on a light and solving the puzzle.
The game saves automatically. If you die, you restart from a point that it sometimes quite a way back. This did, however, serve to highlight just how easy the game is once you figure out what needs doing. It’s pretty easy to retrace your steps. With the story being a big part of the game and the relatively easy puzzles, there’s not much in the way of replay value.
The environments are detailed and interesting to explore. You really want to take a good look around to get an idea of what is going on. There’s a lot of story in the clipping and notes laying around. The pace of the game is relatively slow, but there are a few nerve-racking occasions. In some respects, it did remind me of Everybody's Gone to the Rapture on PS4, being a bit of a walking simulator, as well, at times.
The visuals are nice and atmospheric. I couldn’t help but think that the game would be an ideal candidate for VR. Even running the game on an RTX 2080 Ti, the game struggled. I would say the game engine could do with a bit of optimisation.
On the whole, I found Those Who Remain fun to play. The game was a lot better than I thought it would be and not quite the Alan Wake/Silent Hill rip-off that it looks like. It is a little rough around the edges, but on the whole an interesting psychological horror game with some fun puzzles.