(Disclaimer: None of my Twitter-PAINTED entries are endorsed and/or sponsored, and all copies were purchased after some serious vetting. Support awesome indies, and enjoy the following spoiler-free review!)
Recently, I had picked up the totally amazing GameMaker Humble Rebundle, opting to drop the $15 necessary to secure not only a GameMaker Studio Professional license and at least four additional components, but also a smattering of amazing indie games. Sure, GameMaker-borne titles INK and Home were amazing in their own right, but another in particular caught my eye right away: Uncanny Valley!
What is Uncanny Valley?
In short, Uncanny Valley is a low-fi survival horror game developed by the evil geniuses at Cowardly Creations using GameMaker Studio. Graphics and engine snobs may be quick to shoot it out of the saddle right away for their respective (and stupid) reasoning, but what sucks for them is that they’d be missing out on one of the most gripping horror yarns ever woven.
The player assumes the role of Tom, a security guard who has been assigned to a remote facility as night watchman. His daytime cohort, Buck, gives Tom a quick tour of the facility, which includes pointing out elevators that he should and shouldn’t use, before sending him off to his apartment to get ready for the shift.
At the apartment building, Tom meets Eve, a mysterious woman identifying herself as the cleaning lady. After a brief discussion, Tom changes into his uniform and returns to the facility, where Buck appears to not even have the decency to wait for his arrival. The building is supposedly empty, Buck is nowhere to be found, and there is literally nothing to do except wander the hallways.
Or is there?
The Cure for Boredom
While exploring the multiple floors of the facility, Tom gets bored and begins getting into things. This includes picking up items, rearranging shelving to uncover hidden ductways, and perhaps the most egregious, turning on monitors and perusing the email threads of the employees who once worked there.
Where is everybody, and why did they disappear? Hoping to find an answer, Tom begins his investigation to pass the time until the end of his shift. However, the more he finds out, the more unsettling everything becomes, which is only bound to get worse if he happens to find a way down to the lower levels using that elevator Buck told him not to use…
After each shift, whether it’s back at his apartment or wherever he happens to pass out, Tom finds no solace in sleep. Rather, he’s been having recurring nightmares every night for some time. Horrific episodes of isolation and pursuing shadows that can have a positive or negative impact on the gameplay and/or ending received.
A Deeper Look
“Ending received,” you may ask? Yes. Uncanny Valley possesses a trope that all good horror entries practice, and that’s one of multiple possible endings! It’s one that’s been used in games like Clock Tower and Resident Evil, as well as on the big screen with 28 Days Later and Paranormal Activity, all to ongoing critical acclaim!
The entire narrative of Uncanny Valley is driven by its consequence system. For every failed avoidance or social interaction, the game will go on without a stitch, but with serious consequences that come into play later. Missed hero moments, being attacked by varied and gruesome baddies, and discovering things best left alone will all figure into Tom’s ultimate fate.
My initial run of Uncanny Valley got me what I believe to be the worst ending, but I won’t spoil it for you any more than that! Even better, what makes this whole experience even more maddening is that there is little to no gameplay or LPs available for Uncanny Valley’s current iteration, which has changed a lot from its GameJolt demo days.
It’s like it’s 1997 all over again, when my brother and I would have to resort to printed strategy guides to help us navigate Clock Tower and YouTube wasn’t even born yet. It’s like we’re cavemen or something!
In closing, if you’re a survival horror nerd of any kind who enjoys exploration, a deep story, isolated environs, and multiple endings, I highly recommend checking out Uncanny Valley.
Twitter-PAINTED, indeed! Think I’m gonna go play it right now… Lumpz the Clown OUT!
Ever hear of Volgarr the Viking, Bulby Diamond Course, or Xeodrifter? Read my other reviews on awesome indie games!
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