Haunt Version 1.1 Impressions – An Extension Of Our Review
You probably remember that back in December (that rhymed, it was unintentional) I reviewed the fantastic indie horror game, Haunt. For nearly two months, the developers have been working on a massive update for the game to fix many of the issues we highlighted with it, and now it’s been released. I’ve been eagerly looking forward to it, and now that I’ve played it I can say that it’s been worth the wait. Before getting into this little extension of my review, however, let me first say that you should read our exclusive interview with ParanormalDev, the creators of Haunt, as it will give you a pretty good background of the game as well as tell you where it’s heading in the future.
Naturally, for the sake of efficiency I won’t review the entire game again, as I’ve already done that and the review is there for reference. As such, I’ll strictly be focusing on what’s new in this release. Right, with that introductory business now out of the way, let’s get into the new version of Haunt.
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The new version of Haunt brings a host of fixes, changes and updates. Firstly, the save points are now working perfectly across difficulties, so you’ll have a frustration free experience now and if you die you’re able to reload from your last save point with all your progress in tact. Secondly, a new place, Death Camp, has been added to the game, but it’s mostly just to extend the experience as it doesn’t bring new gameplay, but new collectibles that you need to find. Some gamers would be happy to know that Xbox 360 controller integration is now working smoothly, which is great. A host of glitches have also been fixed, and in the new version I can’t say that I encountered any serious bugs at all. There was one moment where I was inside a building and Slender Man rose out of the floor, literally. I wasn’t sure if this was a glitch, but it was so awesome and fear-inducing at the time that I really wouldn’t mind either way.
The biggest change of the game, and the main attraction, is the new Slender Man model. But in addition to his new appearance, his behaviour has also been reworked. Let’s start with the former. In the previous version of Haunt, Slender Man was hardly intimidating because he looked more like a harmless apparition rather than a terrifying monster you just want to run away from. Also, while his blue stylised aura looked great visually, it completely detracted from his scare factor because you could spot him from miles away, and he stood out like a sore thumb. I’m very happy to say that all of these issues are a thing of the past. When I first saw Slender Man’s model in the new version, I thought he looked a little over the top and overdone, but the more I played, the more awesome I found the change to be.
Slender Man now looks like a real horrifying creature. He’s been changed to a gigantic, black, menacing wraith-like creature with enormous tentacles protruding from his back and sides. I started loving the model the moment I saw that the tentacles actually animate, and expand and contract on their own. Furthermore, the absolute best thing about the new Slender Man model is that he blends in beautifully with the visual style of the game. When you spot him in the distance, he looks like part of the deep black shadows, and it’s creepy as hell. Haunt has an incredible atmosphere, and it always did have one. Atmosphere is the heart of horror, and Haunt gets it damn right. But, the cherry on top of atmosphere, what makes it all come together, is that you need to feel like you’re in actual danger. You need to feel vulnerable to a threat you don’t fully understand, and aren’t entirely equipped to deal with. In the previous version of Haunt, I brushed Slender off as an annoyance when I saw him. But in the new version, when I see him I just turn and run, as fast as I can. That’s the difference presentation makes.
Slender Man’s mechanics have also been reworked somewhat. He has a lot less bugs now in his movement, and his appearances have been drastically improved. Yes I still encountered a few bugs where he was stuck in something or standing idly by even though I had full view of him, but the positives far outweighed the contrary. The key to escaping him is not looking back, and simply running really fast. But I noticed that the gradual pacing of his aggression is now much more fleshed out, and by the time I had seven, six and five scraps to go, he was really making his presence known. I recall a moment of panic I had out in the open when he started rapidly appearing around me, and each time I escaped he simply returned from another direction, and it was so dark that I had no idea where he was.
Another highlight saw me being completely stunned when this enormous monster literally rose out of the floor of the building I was in. Some of his best appearances for me occurred out in the dark forest, where he blended eerily with the shadows and trees, and it was just fantastic. Another moment of awesomeness happened when I spotted him outside of the window, curled up in a ball almost. It looked like a rather humourous bug until he uncurled himself and rose to full height, prompting me to run like I was on fire. The jury is still out on whether that was a bug or not, but his presence, appearance and animations really are great and much better than before, and the developers deserve a lot of credit.
What else can I say about the new version of Haunt? Well, it’s essentially the same game, but it’s very much an improved experience. For previous Haunt players, it’s worth downloading just for the new Slender Model alone, especially if you never completed the game before. For those who haven’t played this yet, now’s your chance with a significantly improved Slender Man, updated mechanics, some new content and bug fixes. I also noticed that the game now has a constant soundtrack playing in the background, and it’s really awesome to listen to and does a lot to immerse you into the experience.
In the end the new version of Haunt is exactly what I wanted it to be. It’s a better experience, and most of the issues I had with it before have been eliminated, with the best thing of all being the changes to Slender Man. Haunt has been a fantastic experience, and I’m really excited for where it’s going in the future with Haunted Memories. For now, it’s pretty safe to say that Haunt is finally complete.