The horror game genre has had its share of franchises over the years, with games such as Resident Evil, Silent Hill and Fatal Frame. Whether it’s a fight scene where you go against an enemy, usually one-on-one, or an invulnerable assailant, when it’s executed correctly it leads to many heart-pounding moments. These games also tend to have collectibles that are necessary to progress, which leads the player to explore their surroundings thoroughly. So how does Creeping Terror fare against them?
Creeping Terror is developed by Sushi Typhoon Games and published by Aksys Games, the former actually a game development studio inside Sushi Typhoon, a film production studio. They have experience with films in the genre, so it makes sense they’d try to replicate that in video game form. Similar to a game like Silent Hill, they went for setting the atmosphere and building up the suspense gradually instead of a number of “shock” moments.
Arisa, the game’s protagonist, explores a mansion & hospital, with keys hidden about to block your path until you find them and occasional notes that flesh out more of the narrative. And of course, there’s “stalker”-type characters who will try to kill you if they find you. The issue is two-fold here, however. There’s three different types of assailants: a buffed-out miner who wields a shovel as a weapon, a dog and a hooded elderly figure. The dog is unique from the others, as being an animal it moves quite differently from the other two.
The two human-like characters appear differently, but in reality are essentially the same movement-wise. The issue is that unlike the other games in the genre, you cannot freely interact with the environment in terms of hiding. You have two choices, getting to a safe room or hiding in very specific spots. The latter is because you can’t interact with the environment outside of very specific spots where the game forces a stalker upon you. Instead of being more organic, they went for the pre-scripted route. Additionally, while in other horror games you would still be fleeing from the stalker after getting somewhere safe, here they usually just “disappear” once you do so.
Additionally, the game balance is quite a bit off. You have the ability to save in any room, but since the game autosaves quite regularly, it’s a bit useless and makes evading assailants trivial since you’re never in any real danger thanks to the generous saving ability. The aforementioned safe rooms also refill your health, flashlight battery and cell phone battery, and since they’re so easy to find spruced around the map, the items you obtain to refill these are essentially rendered useless. It all leads to the game feeling rote for the most part as you’re never in any danger that would set you back quite a ways for getting too cocky.
The art direction is interesting, although it also has its own flaws. The developers rendered the game environment in 3D, while using 2D rendering for the characters. The atmosphere visually is done well, but for someone with a keen eye they’ll notice that the characters were animated in a puppet-like manner which tends to be stiff motion-wise. This mixed with the lack of intractability in the areas only tends to put more attention to the character rigging. Some players may not notice or care about this, but for those who it does, it’s a distraction.
For a 3DS release, Creeping Terror easily has some of the best graphics from a stylistic approach, but unfortunately the gameplay has a number of flaws that bring down the experience, including the lack of suspense and the uneven balance due to the plethora of safe rooms. All in all, this leads to the “Terror” part of its namesake being a bit of a misnomer and a game I can’t recommend over the other heavyweights in the genre.Creeping Terror was reviewed using a Nintendo 3DS digital copy provided by Aksys Games. You can find additional information about Gaming Union's ethics policy here.
|The visuals are quite well done for a Nintendo 3DS title.|
|For those with a keen eye, the puppet-like animations of the characters may be an issue.|
|Lack of suspense as you can save anywhere, refilled whenever you enter a safe room, and the chase sequences feel more rote than organic.|