Resident Evil may have taken the limelight when it comes to new horror games, but there’s another title vying for attention, and Uncanny Valley is certainly a disturbed individual.
You control Tom, a regular guy, who’s got a new job as a security guy at your run of the mill abandoned building which never see’s any visitors because nothing ever happens there…..
Well that’s not entirely true, Tom’s regular nightmares aren’t the only horrors in store, but what exactly is going on in the lower levels.
Uncanny Valley is a side-scrolling 2D survival-horror adventure, controlling Tom you’ll start off running from some mysterious black figures that haunt his dreams.
Before you start your first day, you’ll already feel uneasy thanks to a dark and mysterious soundtrack that really helps to set the tone of the atmosphere.
You soon meet Buck who introduces you to your job, and tells you to make sure you patrol the upper floors. Soon enough you’re starting to explore and find out more about the building and communications between former employees.
There’s plenty left unexplained such as why clock are stuck at 3 o’clock, but these emails go some way to filling in the background of the establishment.
You’ll also meet Eve, who seems a slightly odd woman, but on my first play-though, that soon turned into friendship as I was invited to meet her at the relaxation room, and oddly enough, crazed stalker as I maybe found out a little too much towards the end of the play-through.
Uncanny Valley, used a very basic pixel art direction, looking far more like a Commodore 64 title than anything from the next-generation, I’m far from a graphics designer, but I see some pretty impressive work reviewing games and it’s such a shame when development teams take such a relaxed approach to graphics, because it’s safe to say they could have been so much better.
That’s not to say they don’t “work” because there’s a certain appeal to the atmosphere created from dark and fuzzy pixels, but I really wish teams would go that extra mile because there’s still a large band of gamers who will unfortunately judge Uncanny Valley solely on its look without delving into the atmosphere of the game.
Much of the atmosphere is created by a pretty impressive soundtrack, almost as basic as the graphics on the surface, but it’s retro appeal is fulfilled as a pretty impressive soundtrack, which often changes dependent on the area you’re currently exploring and soon peaks to highlight dangers and areas of interest, there’s clearly room for improvement but for a small-scale development, it’s more than sufficient.
The main thing has to be the feeling you get when exploring your surroundings, and regardless of the exact level of quality, both sound and audio do a fantastic job of setting a rather uneasy atmosphere, even in the safety of your own bedroom.
Your first experience with Uncanny Valley is likely to be a disclaimer that reminds you that multiple playthroughs are the key to getting the most out of the game, and while it’s a bold move, it does mean that you’re likely to play through Uncanny Valley in little more than an hour, but you’ll soon be coming back for more..
While some sections aren’t as scary as I feel they’re intended to be, there’s more than enough that’s weird, crazy or outright disturbing which will certainly keep you feeling on edge.
Having your arms and legs cut off so that you can’t leave the woman who loves you, is one way that makes you think you might have made the wrong decision in the last 60 minutes.
Should you fix the fuse box, or leave it for Buck to do. Will you go to meet Eve, and if you’re trapped will you try to escape, or wait around to see what happens.
Throughout each play through you’ll find many choices like these that have to be made. Sometimes they seem irrelevant, while others will greatly shape the way the game plays out.
This layered consequence system is the true highlight of Uncanny Valley and regardless of how it looks and sounds there’s a distinct feeling of success when you do explore a slightly different approach and venture a little bit further or avoid what you felt was unavoidable.
It’s safe to say, that on the surface, Uncanny Valley is a short and messy game, but as soon as you start to explore the hidden depth, there’s a charm to avoiding the inevitable. Break an arm and you’ll struggle to fire a gun, get to close and you’ll struggle to get away, avoid the challenges and someone else will take the fall.
Uncanny Valley might take 4 or 5 playthroughs until you really start to appreciate the game and you might even waste an hour or so exploring the same outcome that you’ve just encountered. But spend time with Tom and his horror adventure and you’ll find a deep and involving experience.