By Diana "DumeeGamer" Dumee on April 21, 2020
During last year's Gamescom, we came across the booth of publisher Deck13 Spotlight. While Ferry "Sadhonker" Adams was happily hacking away at another Deck13 game called Cross Code, I was invited to enter the eerie world of a game called The Shattering, a chance which I gladly accepted. And man, am I glad that I did! What impressed me most at the time was, although The Shattering is designed mainly in black and white, it still looked beautiful and attractive. Now, seven months later, it's finally time for the release of the full game and I am one of the happy reviewers who get the chance play this game and, of course, share my findings with my dear readers.
The Shattering is a game developed by five close friends who formed development studio that goes by the very cool name of Super Sexy Software. The game has its roots in 2013, when the first echoes of it started to take form in the mind of Marta Szymanska, who was studying the contrast of white and black in horror entertainment games and culture. The Shattering is a first person psychological thriller and follows the story of a man called John. Together with John, we experience some of the key moments of his life. And why are we doing this, you may ask? Well, because it's all part of a therapy John is following with psychiatrist Dr. W. Richards.
We meet John during one of the sessions with Dr. Richards/ The focus of this session is mainly to remember. John needs to remember certain moments of his life, but of course he can't. Bit by bit we will try to knit his memories together in order to make some sense of what happened to him. Act 1 brings you to a hotel, where it becomes clear that John is a writer. In the lobby he tries to get some inspiration for a new story and when he arrives in his hotel room, he definitely doesn't want to be disturbed while writing.
As mentioned earlier, The Shattering is designed in mainly black and white or, better said, white and gray. But sometimes an item or surrounding can be featured in a colour. As you might suspect, if something stands out because of its colour, it must be important and you definitely need to check out. Most of the time, these items will give you an insight into parts of John's life. Now, I am thoroughly aware of the fact that this black and white thing isn't new, I saw other studio's experimenting with this concept before, but I will assure you that Super Sexy Software fulfill the promise of their studio name, because it is ridiculous how good this game looks with the use of so little colour.
What makes this game thrilling and stand out from other games is the fact that your surroundings can change within seconds. When you walk towards an empty corner, furniture can appear. A wall can crack open, revealing a door for you to enter. And sometimes it's the more subtle changes that do the trick and get you on the edge of your seat. What to think about a room with perfectly made bed that changes into a messy slept-in bed when you re-renter the room just moments later. Scary shit, right?
The game will take you through five acts in total, all of which are truly amazing, but one of the most impressive chapters of this game to me, was definitely the one about John's childhood. It showed the cozy things and happy memories that everyone (hopefully) has, like eating a birthday cake and watching cartoons while you're curled up at the couch with your bestest friend in the whole wide world: your trusty teddy bear. But also the darker side of things is shown and I admit it brought tears to my eyes. John's childhood is cozy and disturbing at the same time, and that really got to me. Let's just put it this way; I will make sure to cuddle my teddy bear a bit more tonight and I'm going to call my parents and thank them for an amazing childhood!
The Shattering is available for PC via Steam and offers you keyboards and mouse controls, but also controller support. Whichever you choose, the controls are simple; you can walk around, sprint, move the camera and there is a button to interact with your surrounding and one to use focus. I had no problems with playing this game whatsoever. It works smoothly and although our PC isn't the latest model anymore (try nine years old), the game still runs like a charm!
I'm a sucker for good stories and The Shattering offers a brilliant one. I was on the edge of my seat, without being scared to see what's next. I cried and I laughed while playing my way my way through the game in an attempt to connect the scattered and obscured dots of John's life. I just love to see a game of which I played the demo during Gamescom actually releasing in full. It's great to see someone's wish fulfilled and I love it even more, when the full game lives up to the set expectations and even exceeds them. This is certainly true for me and The Shattering. I really hope we'll be able to enjoy even more cool games of Super Sexy Software and Deck13 in the foreseeable future!