Indie Review: Paranormal
Paranormal is an innovative indie horror game by Matt Cohen that is inspired by movies such as Paranormal Activity and Blair Witch Project, and is designed to be a fully dynamic haunting-simulator.
- Worth The Time?Yes, absolutely, it's a great experience.
- Things LovedThe incredible atmosphere and brilliant execution of it, the fantastic visuals and detail, the dynamic scares ensure it's different each time you play and begs you to play the game multiple times, the voice acting and script are really good, the sound effects are excellent, the game is really compelling and unique, buying the game means you'll get free content updates.
- Things HatedThe camera shakes can be uncomfortable at times, the game crashes sometimes after the end, the pacing might possibly be too quick which gives you limited exploration time, the camera height is a bit low.
- RecommendationThis is a game that demands your attention and multiple playthroughs. If you're a fan of horror, you need to play this, and the fact that buying it will give you free content updates in the future only makes it more worth it.
- Name: Paranormal
- Genre: Horror
- Players: 1
- Multiplayer: N/A
- Platforms: PC
- Developer: MattCohen
- Publisher: MattCohen (on Desura)
- Price: R85
- Reviewed On: PC
You can buy and download the game here.
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Paranormal is a newly released innovative indie horror game by Matt Cohen that was inspired by movies such as Paranormal Activity and Blair Witch Project. It’s designed to be a fully dynamic haunting-simulator, which means that no two experiences of it will be the same. Depending on how you play the game, where you go, what you do, how you progress and other such variables, you may live through a very different nightmare to someone else, and that’s exactly where the fun is. Reason being because it means that the game begs you to play through it multiple times, and it’s completely worth it to do so if you enjoy horror games. Furthermore, purchasing the game ensures that you’ll get free content updates in the future, which will bring more scenarios, locations, characters and gameplay mechanics to Paranormal, which is excellent because this game has great potential. But I’m getting a bit ahead of myself here. The full version of this game has only just released, so let’s get into it.
The concept of Paranormal is extremely interesting. You play as Matel Clark, an artist who believes that his house is haunted. In order to show proof of this to the world, he starts to record his daily experiences in the house in the hopes of catching ghostly activity on film. Because that’s always a good idea, right? Either way, you’ll explore the house over several days looking for freakish things, except the only problem is that things are getting worse, and you’re beginning to uncover a story to the house through a series of journal entries left by previous owners. You’ll be given a limited time each day to explore the house, as the moment your camera battery reaches low levels you’ll need to get to bed and sleep, which recharges your battery and brings new scares. You aren’t given a clear cut objective, but you’re able to work out what you should be doing as you play, and your interest in the story will most likely fuel your desire to explore. And of course doing this is what’s going to make you soil yourself.
There is honestly nothing more to tell you about the gameplay. Paranormal is an experience that is all about its atmosphere, visuals and sound. It simply has an incredible atmosphere that is brilliantly executed, and it does wonders to make you feel claustrophobic, alone and totally helpless. The best part is the game’s unique dynamic scares concept which, thanks to the game’s complex action-reaction and randomization system, ensures that you won’t get the same experience twice. You need to play this game multiple times, because there’s plenty to see and multiple ways things can go down. It’s an ambitious system, and for the most part it works really great. Sure, you’ll see some of the same scares a few times if you play the game more than once, but there’s enough variance and unpredictability that the experience stays fresh throughout multiple plays. The only real issue of debate is that of inconsistency with pacing, because on some plays it can feel like the game goes too fast, as in you’ll start out with moving objects and then jump to demonic apparitions, but you can also argue that this is what keeps the game exciting, so for now it’s something I’ll simply acknowledge rather than criticize.
One of the best, and worst, things about Paranormal is how compelling it is. I played it about three times before deciding to take a breather, and that’s because aside from my sanity being questionable, it’s pretty darn interesting to discover all there is to the game and its story. This is a really unique game, and it’s just so well executed. There are only a few minor complaints I have though. The first is that the camera shakes can be a bit uncomfortable and drastic, sometimes to the point that the game almost forces you to use the menu to turn it off, which is a pity because it being turned on adds immersion. Furthermore, the camera height is a bit low, which gives you the impression that you’re some kind of midget, or that you’re holding it at the hip for some reason, but this is just a small nitpick.
The game uses the Unreal Engine 3, and it pays off quite well because the game looks fantastic and is packed with detail. There is plenty to see, and as a visual experience Paranormal gives you next to nothing to complain about. It’s excellent, and even better is that it doesn’t stop there. The voice acting and script are also really good, and a particular area that deserves enormous credit is the game’s usage of sound. Play this game with headphones, and you may just regret that decision. From the smallest knock to doors opening to forceful thuds and bloodcurdling shrieks, Paranormal just nails its audio work, and it’s seriously impressive in this regard. I’d even go as far as to say that the game wouldn’t be half what it is without its awesome use of sound. Technically, the game is solid, with my only issue being that it can crash sometimes after the end. It’s not such a big deal though because you’ll get to see it through to the end and the crash only happens when there’s nothing it can affect.
Paranormal is exceptionally well done, very creepy and incredibly atmospheric. It’s a wonderfully unique and compelling concept that is executed very impressively, and the fact that it begs you to play it multiple times only sweetens the incentive to get it. That, and free content updates, which you will get in the future as a reward for buying it. This is one nightmare you don’t want to miss out on.