You can judge a book by its cover.
Before starting Song of Horror I found the games initial set-up from its art design and cover very creepy. Horror games are generally not something I play often but the ones I do have had more action involved segments which usually take away from the fact you are completely helpless and Song of Horror is one of those rare instances where you are made to feel like that relying on your wits and careful planning if you wish to survive.
The story begins with the disappearance of an acclaimed writer by the name of Sebastian P. Husher. His assistant who is worried asks you the player to investigate, at this point in the game you play as Daniel Noyer who is disgruntled at the fact he has been disturbed after just arriving home, Hesitant he decides to investigate after being coerced. Upon arriving at the Husher home he finds the door unlocked to the house and nobody at home, or so he thought. Noyer finds himself lost in a desperate battle with an evil being known as The Presence. Through five chapters the player must uncover the mysteries of this ongoing nightmare through various locations.
Song of Horror tells the story through characters interactions of just about anything and by animated comic strips which happen which voice the characters current thoughts. These can feel rather odd as most interactions with normal everyday objects are not what you would expect to hear from someone especially when they are stood in a dark house or in a dangerous situation where the door you just went through has suddenly disappeared with no way out, despite what has just happened, the character still remains calm in thought or says something odd. Every time you interact with Daniel Noyer’s toilet you are reminded that he needs to clean it and he is even self-aware of how bad it smells all the time. Detective life must be hard.
Still, Song of Horror does portray each situation as dangerous, very creepy and this is due to the fixed camera as it is difficult to see what lies ahead. This is something that we have seen in the older Resident Evil games and works well. In general Song of Horror does portray the Horror game genre very well due to the sheer number of references and Easter eggs. The other thing that makes Song of Horror such a dangerous and creepy situation to be in is the permadeath, this is because if you do lose a character to the Presence then they are gone for good. The problem I find with permadeath is that while in most cases it is avoidable there are some instant death moments here that when happen can cost a lot of replay time. I wasn’t too much of the quick-time events that happen during an enemy encounter either. Due to the nature of the game you are not forced to restart should you lose a character to permadeath unless it is Daniel Noyer, any other surviving characters may turn up later in the game should you have saved them. This really gives a sense of re-playability and even if characters themselves offer minimal to little personality, the game itself does have its moments of perspective. You can switch off the permadeath setting if you really wish but doing so can hamper the experience as also it changes the course of the game later on.
There are a variety of items that you can collect and puzzles to solve which start off quite basic but then can get cryptic later on. Firstly you are to find a key and a note will let you know where the key was left. The purpose of this is to make sure you explore thoroughly while making sure to read all documents you find but doing this really does deliver a real sense of accomplishment.
Overall Song of Horror kept me gripped, the aesthetic is well done and the pacing overall is great. I really enjoyed the comic book style storytelling as this enhances the games overall tension and feel. I feel too many games in the horror genre are lost on action set pieces. Adopting my playstyle to a certain situation really made me think about my actions and the consequences of them.
A PlayStation 4 Review code was provided by Raiser Games