You know when I think about it, there aren't many video games that do storytelling like H.P Lovecraft. Why? Because H.P Lovecraft's writing is abnormal. Stories ranging from a small group of people going crazy and killing each other on a mountain, to stories like the cosmic world destroyer Cthulhu. His stories were always weird, but highly intriguing. Those four words best describe Naughty Shinobi’s game: Shadow Over Isolation. The game’s story is weird but highly intriguing.
The game description boasts that it is “a First-Person Adventure Horror game INSPIRED by the storytelling style of H.P. Lovecraft” and to its credit, does capture the feeling of an H.P Lovecraft story. It’s set in the year 1984 in Kapra County, Georgia, and you play as Ryan Kappel. He is asked to farm-sit for his grandma. He hasn’t been there for 17 years, so he feels nostalgic, but perturbed by the uneasy air. He investigates the farm to find a mysterious chamber sitting in an abandoned stable. I wish I could tell you what’s in those chambers, but the demo ends before you get to the juicy bits. Not much is revealed in the demo, and even the main character's story remains a mystery. You do learn more about Ryan’s history with this farm through segments where everything slows down and turns to black and gray, and you want to learn more about Ryan because he seems like an interesting character.
Shadow Over Isolation looks great as well. It’s very vibrant, detailed and the art style is inspired by Stanley Kubrick according to the developer blog. Unfortunately, I couldn’t fully appreciate the art style. When I tried running the game at its best graphical settings the frame rate was like a slideshow. Once I turned down the graphical settings the game ran buttery smooth, but whenever I opened a door the frame rate would still drop, then go back up. This is a demo and the game is still currently in development, so I anticipate the frame rate probably won’t be an issue once the game is fully optimized.
This is a short demo, so there isn’t much to say about the gameplay. It plays like a standard first-person survival horror game, however there is an addition called: Grey Matter Mode. This mode allows the player to see objects that can be interacted with. This mode can also help when solving obstacles or puzzles. There are only two puzzles in the demo and they do take thought and time to unravel. I was quite fond of the Grey Matter Mode and how it showed there are two ways of getting past a locked door. I like this because it makes the problems feel more organic knowing there are multiple ways of solving a single problem. I hope to see more of that in the full game.
Although not a huge concern, I do have to nitpick on the animation for opening doors. It looks a bit wonky and could use some improvement, but other than that the game looks like a solid survival horror title. The game hit the mark in feeling like an H.P Lovecraft story. If you want a weird, but intriguing game, then I recommend picking up Shadow Over Isolation later this year on Steam.