How’s it going creeps and crawlies, today I was lucky enough to get my devious little claws on the demo for Horror Vale. Although to be fair, demo is an understatement
Horror Vale is an adorably dark adventure in the netherworld, playing as a young skull witch by the name of Alice and a ragtag bunch of monsters and mooks. You attempt to deal with an invasion of “Creepies” horror denizens that dwell beyond the walls of your spooky go lucky town.
The game opens to short introduction by a Jack ‘o’ man-tern, by the name Poe, telling the tale of our humble heroine on a stage with cardboard cut-out scenery to dress. Who tells you what the world is and how things are starting to get creepy.
The first thing that hit me was the art style, I don’t know how it’s been done, but there’s over nine thousand spooky and a bajillion percent cute. And all this in so few pixels, the game has the same attention to graphical detail as the early Final Fantasy games. Horror Vale is visually stunning, thematic and despite an awesome amount of added detail, it’s not visually confusing. Never once was I hindered by the games visual design, in all its mixed greys, oranges, greens and purples.
So on to the gameplay, its Top down RPG as you know it, very slight changes that add to the games sinister style. It keeps the gameplay uncluttered and lovably simple.
The combat plays like a mix between a Pokémon battle and a JRPG, your characters fall into specific class groups. Alice appears to be the damage dealing mage, her Un-dog Scruffy playing the cleric role of damage/buffs. My first battle was a haunted chair, then a possessed book and just before I could puzzle my way out of the house, an evil table lamp!
Later the gameplay ramps up, fighting various residents and enemies of all your classic horror flavours. But of course, you never kill anyone, what with them all being some kind of dead already.
All the items and abilities are thematic; a bottle of the flu as a healing potion and a healing spell deals some hefty damage. I also acquired a “thing” which I have no idea the purpose of, aside from making a wonderfully simple slime salesman go away without violence.
The writing is absolutely stellar, the game knows what it is and what nostalgia its plying. And it does it absolutely great. The example I have here is perhaps the best background relationship in any game I’ve played, I’m speaking of course of the Pink Pot and his forlorn Existential Table. Also there’s a hidden gem in the game lingering under a trapdoor.
But seriously, It’s witty, funny and doesn’t ever seem too much. The puns absolutely nail it by the way, even when they’re bad, they’re scarily good.
But don’t go away from this thinking it’s all ‘2Spoopy4me’, some parts of this game did find their way under my skin, when you find the place I’m talking about, you won’t miss it and you definitely won’t want to go back there. The creepy manor, so creepy that undead folk from a town literally in the afterlife, call it creepy. That’s like Charles Manson telling you you’re weird.
From its muted colour palate and tattered design, to the abundance of mannequins and a creepy seemingly undefeatable fiend wandering about. It puts me in the uneasy mindset that Lavender Town did when I first played Pokémon, and has puzzles strewn throughout that took me back the wonder days of Resident Evil. By no means is this derivative though, Horror Vale never feels like another game. It’s an absolute curse of a reviewer, to have to find comparisons, but I mean them in the best possible way.
Finally I want to talk about sound design, now the sounds themselves are decent, they are what you’d expect.
But the music is original and just so good, it’s kinda got a creepy vibe and there’s a little remixing in it, also somehow a cat is an instrument. It’s just high energy and I couldn’t help get sucked in to the games charm through the battle music specifically will make you want to shake your boo-ty.
In Conclusion, this is probably one of the best demos I’ve ever played, YES, IT’S JUST A DEMO!
Two hours later, it was JUST THE DEMO!
Give this man his backing, give him whatever he wants, because if this is what he considers a demo. I would sell my soul, your soul and both our neighbours’ souls for the full game.
12/10, bravo, encore and goodnight!
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