The world of survival horror has steadily received new entries each trying to capture the magic of the original Resident Evil or Silent Hill. Newer entries like Outlast and Alien Isolation have found their way into homes scarring the pants of gamers with their ability to have the player feel a never-ending sense of dread as they wander weaponless through dark and twisted worlds. Shadows 2: Perfidia looks to take this philosophy to the masses with its budget entry into the field. Should the budget price scare you off or is this one worth your time?
S2P is above all else a walking sim survival horror game. Will you be an overpowered spin kick delivering Chris Redfield? No, instead you will be one of two generic characters that have as much development as the most recent calculator app. Players awaken in a deserted office building knowing only that something is not right at all. Quickly adding a flashlight to your inventory you are immediately drawn into its easiest comparison being Outlast. As you scurry from room to similarly designed room or down the barest of hallways there is a slight sense of dread that you cannot shake. Unfortunately, this is 100% due to the janky design and woeful sound design.
Audio is key to any horror experience. A harmonious marriage of keen sound design mixed with creative uses of lighting and shadow can take any scene and fill it with suspense, horror, and dread. Imagine watching any good horror movie without the accompanying music or sound. Jaws would be a much less intimidating shark without the suspense of the backing score. S2P, unfortunately, misses the mark entirely. Players are treated to sound effects that by PS1 standards are laughable. The slogging sounds of walking through thick creepy bog accompanies you as you progress down the corridors. This is unfortunate as the sound and environment do not match. The omnipresent threat moans in the background while initially menacing it quickly morphs into just a sound that doesn’t quite feel in place. Being set in an office you will encounter numerous doors that can be opened, while on the surface this adds to the depth of the world, the same creeky sound plays every time on every door.
Behind these doors lies one of the biggest disappointments with S2P. The office is a plain cookie cutter box containing similarly laid out mini boxes. Being experienced from the first-person perspective, navigation becomes troublesome as entire segments of the building are repeated as you make your way through various floors. Tucked away in the corner of secret rooms is a “secret object” that ultimately serves no purpose.
The developers had the idea of having collectables buried in the world but failed to institute them with any kind of incentive or real purpose. Also scattered throughout the office you will find batteries. These serve the sole purpose of powering your flashlight. On the surface this addition speaks to a keen sense of detail, however, in practice managing your battery level requires nothing more than pausing the game to look at your battery level. You can stretch the battery length by adjusting the brightness of your flashlight but other than some flickering as you run low there is no indication given to the player that they are in danger of losing light.
The name Shadows lets the player know right away that light is your friend. Losing your flashlight or the subsequent camcorder leaves the player trapped in the darkness. This is where evil lives. A solid HD implementation of your heartbeat alerts you to how your character is feeling. Pressing and holding ‘R’ allows the player to close their eyes and attempt to relax. The setup harkens back to the Gamecube classic Eternal Darkness, however, the execution falls well short.
The idea being that if you allow yourself to get too scared horrible things begin to happen, here your heart rate increases followed closely by laboured breathing. Instead of mind games being played through scripted hallucinations or more difficult enemies the game unleashes the Shadows which will consume you if you get caught… and you will. Death comes quick and often as you begin your journey through the halls. Subsequent playthroughs lack any urgency as items respawn in their previous location and everything just loops over again. The lack of any real progression is just another knock against a game that on a conceptual level could have been a home run.
Visually, S2P is a mess. The minimalistic level design works against the game as it tries to create a sense of fear and dread in an empty office. What it achieves feels more like someone attempting to design their first interactive world. Doors lead to rooms filled with the same repeated radiator and desk.
Others contain a small stack of boxes and a chair. Nothing about the world feels lived in or even possibly real. The layout of the office itself doesn’t remotely feel like a legitimate building. Hallways extend into the darkness with no real purpose other than to be a long dark stretch to illicit fear. The low res models in some cases appear as flat 2D objects in a 3D space. Everything about the visuals screams budget title.
Shadows 2: Perfidia began its life as a solid idea. The claustrophobic horror of being trapped in an office building relentlessly pursued by demonic entities has all the earmarks of a classic. Unfortunately, on every level, S2P fails to shake its budget title trappings. Poor sound design partnered with sub-par graphics leaves this dark muddy mess with no leg to stand on. While novel in concept this is a massive miss on every conceivable level.
Review code provided
Platform: PC, Nintendo
Release Date: 06/08/2019
No. of Players: 1
Category: Adventure, Action
Publisher: Ultimate Games
Download link: eShop