THOSE WHO REMAIN
By Diana "DumeeGamer" Dumee on May 28, 2020
"I'm already terrified, but I still would really like to review this game". That was how I started my email to the publisher of the then still upcoming video game Those Who Remain. The PR manager assured me that there was no need to be afraid, so let's find out if he was right, shall we?
Those Who Remain is a first person psychological horror game, situated in the sleepy town of Dormont. You, as the player, will have to take the role of the game's protagonist; a man named Edward. We meet up with Edward during one of his not so cozy evenings. Let's just say that his house is a total mess, there is more liquor on his desk than can usually be found in your friendly neighborhood liquor store and, to top it all off, Edward's holding a gun. Needless to say, this guy clearly isn't that happy with how his life is going at the moment. Yet, in a last minute effort, Edward decides to take his fate into his own hands and start making things right!
Edward is having an ongoing affair with a woman called Diane but, in light of his new found resolution, he decides to end things with her. Coincidentally, Diane invites Edward over to a motel room she has booked and tells him she has a surprise for him. Well, isn't this the perfect moment to end you secret affair! So he drives over to the Golden Oak Motel and weird shit starts happening right off the bat. My first objective is to figure out in which room Diane is in. I thought I was smart and just checked all the doors of the motel, But alas, all the doors are closed and nobody is even the smallest bit inclined to answering said doors. Hmm. I know! Let's check the lobby then. There should be a nice hotel manager who is able to tell me in which room my mistress of lust is. Now, this is what you'd expect of any hotel, right? Well, not in this motel, but luckily the motel owner left his register on the desk and although I'm not 100% sure, I think Diane is in room number two.
So, back I go to room number two, but there's still no answer! What is this? What heinous trick is played here? If the surprise is something nasty, I don't want to know. If it's a severed head, I'm going to be very upset! After several rounds of going back and forth I ended up going back to lobby, where I discover a back door which I can open. I find the info (not going to spoil it) I need to solve the room conundrum and I am finally able to open the door to said room, but Diane isn't there. Well, if this is her big surprise, I'm not impressed as of yet. On top of all that, when I get back outside I just see a glimpse of someone taking my car out for a ride, which I didn't give permission for! This is getting out of hand, what I'm going to do now?
Well, "stay in the light" is actually the first and best tip I can give you. This game stands out from the horror crowd because of the fact that you'll constantly have to figure out how to move from place to place, all the while staying in the light. The danger in the dark is given a face or, better said, eyes. If you approach a dark area you will see shiny blue eyes in a shadowy human silhouette peering at you out of the dark. And not just one pair of eyes; no my friends, this dark shape seems to have brought its whole family and all its friends to the party. And although it's not always clear how much wiggle room you have when moving close to the darkness, the discovering of this fine line is really one of the key features of the game and gives the whole experience a definite creepy feel.
The shadow-beings hiding in the dark stare at you all the time, which works kind of unnerving. That is why I am always super when I find a light switch or other ways to brighten up a little piece of your way, so you can continue. I had a bit of struggle because your environment are really dark, so I couldn't always see right away what I needed to do to solve the puzzle. But then again, that's also definitely part of the experience. Edward's fate is completely in your hands, because your actions can lead to more than one outcome.
Those Who Remain is lovingly crafted and the town of Dormont looks really, really cool (the parts that I can see in this pitch-black night, that is). The things with the blue eyes, staring out at you from the darkness are definitely creepy and serve their purpose perfectly. So, to answer the question I asked during the introduction of this story; you don't need to be scared while playing this game. Well, maybe a little scared, but nowhere near terrified! And still, Those Who Remain is a game that will keep you at the edge of your seat! So, if you'd excuse me, I'm going back to Dormont for a bit. Now where did I put that 1000 Watt portable spotlight...?