Awe of Despair is an indie survival horror game in development by Adrian Swearengin. It is currently in the middle of a Kickstarter campaign where a free demo is available for you to check out.
I love horror games, so of course, I had to check this one out. Especially, since it claims to be “a deeply immersive horror experience”. The last two horror games that I played, Resident Evil 7 and Outlast (which I’m currently still going through) really gave me that sense of immersion, does the Awe of Despair demo show that it’s going do the same and perhaps be the next big indie horror game? Let’s find out.
The game demo begins with our nameless protagonist waking up. He finds himself to be in abandoned foreboding asylum of some sort. Now this Asylum (assuming it is), looks great, the use of Unreal Engine 4 is fantastic. The surroundings look very detailed, and the lighting in this game is well done. Except for one spot because I couldn’t tell where the orange lighting was coming from. This place is also claustrophobic and at times you feel like you are at the mercy of this world. Awe of Despair provides a good atmosphere for a horror title. There are a few shortcomings, which being in development is understandable. I will talk about these later.
I started to walk down the corridor when suddenly I was attacked by spiders. These are the toughest, smallest, spiders I have ever faced! It was quite clear that I was no match for these tiny spiders, mainly because I couldn’t get a good shot on them. It felt like there is no aim assist when trying to target enemies. Awe of Despair does play like a standard first person survival horror game, but the feeling of no aim assist does add an extra challenge. Nevertheless, you don’t have to worry too much about wasting bullets because the demo gives you plenty of ammo.
Eventually, I find my way to a morgue where I see a body bag, having plenty of experience in horror games I know that body is going to get up and attack me. Not taking any chances; I administered a bullet into the body bag. I continue to explore the morgue and when I turn around; the body was gone. Which I admittedly said: “God dammit! I knew it!”. I went looking for the creature and soon entered a new hallway; the door behind me closed and the monster teleported behind me. It proceeded to rip out my spine and use it as it’s personal back scratcher!
I feel like the creature design could be improved to look scarier, but what is scary is the fact it can teleport at will. Some people may find that annoying, but I personally like that aspect of the monsters design. It makes the creature unpredictable.
After being killed, I wake up where the body bag used to be and I proceeded back up to fight the monster. This time I was more prepared, but when I enter the hallway; the door closed and no monster. I tried opening the door, but it wouldn’t budge. I thought this was a glitch, so I restarted the game and tried again multiple times. One of those times I found out the monster is impervious to pistol bullets. I finally realize that this is some sort of puzzle. Turns out I needed to return the hand of a skeleton. I like the inclusion of puzzles but a subtle hint about what to do next would be welcomed.
This is the point where I found myself at the mercy of the world. Some doors would go out right missing and make me face almost impossible odds. This strange and changing place was kind enough to give you a shotgun, which sounds great when it’s cocked.
This leads me to my next subject, sound. There are some sounds in this game that are great like the ominous music that plays sometimes, how the spiders sound when moving, and the gunfire sounds great. However, some sounds were noticeably absent like doors not having any sound when I open them, reloading the guns, and footsteps sound muffled. A tweak to these sounds could improve the atmosphere a bit.
Now the game has me back in the starting corridor with spiders flooding in so much that the game framerate started to drop. The monster also appeared and that’s when I find it’s weakness. Being shot in the face multiple times with a shotgun. I killed the monster and a hallway opened for me to leave. Which now begs the question: Is this place alive or did that creature manipulate my surroundings? The game ends when I left the corridor and admittedly I was hoping for more.
Let’s recap on the pros and cons.
Pros: The game looks great, no aim assist adds more challenge, some sounds are great, and the monster has a threatening ability.
Cons: Some sounds need more work, subtle hints would be nice, and the monster design could be better.
I believe this game has potential to become something great. If you like horror games, I recommend you head over and check out their Kickstarter to support this game.