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A Haunted House Affair
- 10/14/2013 08:28 AM
- 1385 views
Leave...to Hell is a horror game created by Astral and translated by hgdear. This game details the life of a seemingly innocent girl as she tries to escape from a haunted house. As hgdear explains in the main description of the game, Leave is meant to be one for the thrill-seeking player. It supposedly does not have an amazing backstory and tries to excuse it by pointing out said scares. Hgdear also points out that the game is VERY short, and this is no understatement or overstatement.
I honestly didn't really know what to expect when I jumped in. Leave has very minimal backstory and let's the player dive into whatever madness lied inside the setting. It's a proper good set-up for a horror game, I'll admit. I had felt tension right from the start, but I'll go into more detail a little later down the road. For now, let's get on with the review of this very brief experience.
The aesthetics of Leave are nothing much to brag about. There's your common RTP tiles included with the engine, but they are utilized to proper effect. I see nothing wrong with the way they look and how they've been laid out in the maps. Some areas are appropriately medium-sized, and some maps are appropriately cramped. Considering that there really isn't much in terms of level design, I can't say much about it. If I had to, it'd probably be really fucking bad, but that is not the case.
Leave is dark. It is dark very often and acts as a horrific shadow looming over your head. The darkness coupled with the lighting effects contribute well to the dreadful atmosphere of the game. Some places are somehow even DARKER than most other rooms, but I think there was only one instance of this. Along with the darkness, Leave sports a very dashing shade of red in many occasions. Red is a very common color palette in the horror scene. They communicate an uncomfortable and uneasy mood and tone, setting you up for whatever bloody horror awaits you in the coming seconds. Who am I kidding? No, I was not impressed by this. Naturally, the color red does inflict some discomfort, but when you understand the premise of the game and understand what it's trying to do to you, it becomes a gravely irritating affair, and I am not a fan of the horror that Leave makes itself out to be. I'll touch up on this later.
Surely I'm in for the ride of a lifetime.
There are some custom assets, including pictures and modified charsets. If I had to go into what the pictures are like, I would be talking about the gameplay right here and now, but I won't at this moment. All you need to know right now is that Leave does have pictures, and it has a startling amount of them. When you acquire certain items, you'll be treated to pictures to show the process of you attaining these items. It's an appreciated effort by Astral and actually caused my hairs to raise in many instances. The pictures usually catch you off guard and take on the red palette I previously mentioned.
Because Leave is a horror-adventure-hauntedhousespookfest, it does not have a battle system or monster graphics (if you don't count the...okay, not yet...), so I will not cover those aspects. I guess the title is kinda spooky?
Conclusion: Astral has done well in building up tension and creating a dreadful atmosphere through the use of darkness and lighting and making use of a red palette. The mapping is competent and appropriate.
Astral has contributed a good deal of custom music and sounds to Leave, and it doesn't go without saying that they are well-implemented. It's always a pleasure to play a game featuring these things. Leave makes use of some RTP sounds, but they do not stand out an obscene amount.
Leave has a good thing going for it in terms of ambience and just creepiness in general. Astral has provided some sounds that are plainly quite obscure and disturbing. Some clips that you'll hear in the game will have your hairs standing on end, making you wonder what in the fuck is lying in wait for the right time to pounce your sorry ass. In short, the sound design is simple, but implemented effectively and with the proper amount of creepiness to keep you on edge.
Going into the actual MUSIC, Astral has also appeared to have composed these tunes and, on their own, they are actually impressive, not in complexity, but in how well it fit the creepy, dark ambience. I'd say the music is just as minimalistic as the custom sound effects, but they are also just as effective. Astral seems to just have that sort of magic touch, I suppose. I have no complaints about the sounds in Leave.
Conclusion: The sound effects and music included with Leave are not complex or incredible by any means, but are executed appropriately and complement the thick atmosphere of the game with their minimalist style.
What I expected is what I got. Leave is simply put, an adventure horror, in which you crawl around a disturbing environment, usually without any prior knowledge of what has gone on, and push through a series of frightful scenarios to achieve a goal. Does Leave accomplish this? Most certainly. Hgdear already explains that the game is very short, and he wasn't kidding. It did not take me very long to trudge through the horrors of the mysterious house, but it was over before I knew it, and I felt the game was actually a perfect length. I'm glad that Leave didn't overstay its welcome, because I am quite honestly frustrated with the style of horror it presents itself as.
That having been said, let's get into the down and dirty of the gameplay mechanics. Mentioned before, Leave steers clear from the traditional battle system and instead has you walk around the house and look for key items to progress. You will usually have a locked door or two in your way, and the methods to getting through them are pretty simple. Go through a convoluted series of strange acts in order to get the actual thing you're looking for. Searching for key items is not the only thing you'll be doing in Leave.
The other thing is having to watch out for the replusive jump scares that Leave has to offer. This is what I'm talking about. This is the sort of horror that leaves me frustrated in the end and does NOT complement the decent atmosphere that the game creates. If you haven't come across a jump scare yet, you will eventually, and as per usual, the game utilizes distrubing and freaky pictures that accompany a loud sound in order to get a rise from the player. I am not a fan of this type of scare, not at all.
This is the end result of me having been treated to a screamer.
Okay, to be fair, what in the honest fuck was I really expecting? The translator himself has stated that the game is meant to be played for the scares. I mean, I'm not going to lie. It's not like I DIDN'T necessarily see that this sort of thing was coming, but for a game that got the front page spotlight, I was expecting a little more. In the end, I didn't find that the atmosphere was giving me the creeps, oh no, it was the jump scares themselves. Much puckering of assholes ensued after I met my first jump scare (although thank goodness I was able to see that it was coming, because the first instance I got the scare was given after I made the wrong choice.) Leave isn't exactly unfair when it comes to distributing its collection of screamers. They are usually the result of consequences for interacting with certain things or making the wrong decisions. You can avoid most of the jump scares in the game if you go in a certain path (I found this out thanks to one of the comments in the main page).
Other than the constantly being on edge for the next screamer preying on me, my time spent with Leave was mostly spent investigating the mysterious house and having a pleasant read through some disturbing diaries. Leave is not very high up on the difficulty scale. The actual puzzles that it offers are very minimal. There will not be many times that you are scratching your head wondering what to do next. There is one portion where you have to find a code for a number lock, but that's pretty much the only actual puzzle that you encounter in the game.
Conclusion: When the game is not terrorizing you with screamers, the gameplay of Leave consists of a very simple mechanic commonly found in adventure games. It's not very in-depth and requires little thought to play. Just jump in and enjoy the oppressiveness of it all.
What the hell did I just play? Okay, no really, I got some hints here and there as to what the unlying tale of Leave was, but I found myself coming upon some other revelations that cause me to question what actually happened and what different things represented. I've already mentioned that the story of Leave is a bit lacking, and that is not a big deal. The translator warns of this--the game was made for the scares. (Now why did I play this again?)
Leave obviously has something that it wants to share--a story that it wants to get under peoples' skin. From the different things I've read and witnessed in this game, even now I'm not sure I can come to a definite conclusion. It wouldn't be courteous to just spoil what happens right here, but the game does well to conceal the chain of events and only start to piece everything together towards the end of the experience. There is some symbolism here and there that I have noticed, especially in the ending, and even clues that are offered to piece together the story aren't particularly anything but subtle. Not everything about the story is given to the player on a silver platter; the player must instead ponder on the events himself and try to meld together something comprehensible.
Now, about the characters. The game pretty much sets itself up to have a fair share of disjointed and strange individuals. Right at the start of the game, you can peek out and see that someone is out there, "waiting for you" according to the protagonist. It's then we start to wonder what exactly we're doing inside of this creepy house and what our main objective is. We notice quickly that the main character has some sort of agenda, but her unwillingness to be outspoken about it really gives her a mysterious visage. And, seriously, who is this fucking BUTT-UGLY bitch that keeps terrorizing me when I'm just trying to find something to slice a teddy bear up with? I never quite understood who the hell she was.
Screamer or no screamer? Either way, you fucked up somehow.
I know that the game had to be translated. I appreciate the effort put into this, but when I played, I could tell almost immediately that it was a translation job. I'm not saying that it's poor, but there are a lot of instances where there is a lack of capitalization, proper grammar, and strange word formations. Hgdear, I applaud your efforts, once again, but it's definitely not a perfect translation job.
Conclusion: Although it's mentioned that the story is not the key point, there's enough about the characters and setting thinly veiled that the story intrigued me and made me want to uncover the mysteries of the house. The translation job is not perfect, but deserves mention.
Leave was just the right length and complexity for a horror game of this style. It's a neatly packed little adventure game that should provide good thrills and a tense playthrough for anyone who is searching for one. Just regard what I've mentioned about the gameplay and horror style so you won't jump in and then right back out with a sore ass.
Sadly, I cannot give Leave any awards, as the brevity of the experience will MORE THAN LIKELY make it a forgettable experience in the coming days.
Game verdict: Leave is a solid spook-fest, haunted house scenario that should provide thrills to the hardcore horror fan. Its simplistic style and gameplay will help it to be easily accessible to gamers of any type, shape, or form.