Did you play Silent Hill, Alone in the Dark or any other horror-themed PS1 classic? If you did, then Innocence, which is currently in funding over on Kickstarter, might just be up your street. Developed by a one-man dev team, Innocence seeks to pay homage to the retro horrors of yesteryear. As something that struck my nostalgia nerve, I was more than ready to see if the game could creep me out, scare me and most importantly make me want to play more. It managed all three successfully.
Set in the 1940s, the game starts you alone in a small seemingly deserted town. You start with only your pistol and a packet of cigarettes, ready to be fired and smoked as you see fit, and the town to explore. The game’s art style is intentionally drab and dull, with a neon ‘open’ sign a welcoming beacon amongst the bleak. Some players may be turned away by the graphical style, but it does not detract from the experience the game offers, and it could be argued that it adds to it.
Something's Not Quite Right.....
As you begin exploring the town, you will stumble across situations that indicate something isn’t quite right. The residents of this sleepy island town, develop a maniacal grin when you approach them, and all the TVs are blaring out white noise and static. Something foul is at hand, and it's coming for you.
For those that enjoyed the puzzles from retro horror games, Innocence does not disappoint in this regard. The puzzle available the in the demo genuinely stumped me and left me scratching my head. But once it was solved, I felt an immense sense of satisfaction that I had deducted the solution. What was pleasantly surprising is that the puzzle on the premise was quite straightforward, and once you realise you’re on the right path, can still frustrate the less observant.
The combat in Innocence is one of the areas that needs a lot of polish. It is not clear if this is intentional, but the closer you are to your target, the more damage your guns appear to do, and bullets appear to pass through targets as well. Getting hit by an enemy doesn’t feel impactful either, but these issues are something that should be addressed should the game head into full development.
Innocence or Guilt?
Atmospherically, the game is eerie, creepy and at times, downright scary. One of the more ingenious offerings the game has is the actual ending to the demo. I have to applaud any game that breaks your expectations completely and the ending does exactly that. I won’t spoil it for those who may wish to play the demo, but it was a great ending and a brilliant note to finish on.
Innocence, as it stands, is a little rough around the edges, but then this is a Kickstarter demo and to be expected. As a tribute to older PS1 era horror games, the game delivers exceptionally well and even goes so far as to add an old-school cheat into the mix (I won't spoil which one). Overall the game left a very good impression on me and I genuinely look forward to seeing if it can reach it’s very modest funding goal. For anyone that wants to check the demo out for themselves, it is available direct on the Kickstarter page. The biggest mystery to me was the title of the game. Whatever part innocence and guilt play, we will only find out in the final release.