The survival horror genre has always predominantly been best at home in a 3D environment. Not many developers have taken the risk to translate such a game into a 2D perspective. Although we have seen the more recent Deadlight, Uncanny Valley attempts to create a non-linear, 2D pixelated survival story of its own.
Brought to you by indie developers Cowardly Creations, Uncanny Valley focuses around protagonist Tom who must face his own personal nightmares whilst living his everyday life. You’re never quite aware from the start as to what is going on in regards to plot. You begin by waking up in a dumpster, but before you know it, you’ve moved home, started a new job and have a maid asking you round to her flat.
The environments become all too familiar as you search around during your shift employed as a security guard. You soon discover that the town in which you have moved to is not what it seems, something strange appears to be going on and it is down to you to discover exactly what as you wander around employee’s offices, peaking at their emails like a voyeur.
Working at night gives a somewhat eerie effect as you wander buildings with little but your torchlight, but despite being backed up by a good soundtrack to set the mood, it’s hard to ever feel the same kind of fear as you would in Resident Evil. And although it’s unfair to compare games directly, that’s where Uncanny Valley makes its first fall. It’s just not scary, but portrays itself more as a graphical text adventure.
Cowardly Creations have well and truly jumped on the retro bandwagon in terms of graphics. The game has quite possibly the most outrageously sized pixels seen since the days of Teletext. But there’s a big difference here. The story, all portrayed via text, is extremely difficult to read. It’s not small by any means, but it is demonstrated in such a pixelated fashion, that you could find yourself with a headache before you’ve even got past the title screen.
Control wise, it feels overly simplistic. This is a 2D game so we shouldn’t expect a sophisticated method but there are awkward moments. The D-Pad is the only form of control for manoeuvring Tom, but if you want to run at the same time, you have to reach around for the left bumper – dependent on hand size, this could be more uncomfortable than it sounds. The gameplay mechanics themselves are restricted to interacting with your environment as a way of understanding and progressing the story.
To truly get the most out of Uncanny Valley, and understand the plot, you are forced to play through more than once. And by this, we mean at least three playthroughs. Whilst this serves great for longevity, it is a bold move to force players to play through again and again, just to understand what is going on. It’s hard to see how such a move could ever be successful, and therefore only serves as another negative against the game.
Overall, it’s not a bad experience by any means. It just isn’t an exciting, nor the scary experience it set out to be. Whilst it can be hard on the eyes, there is an enjoyment there if you are a raging indie gamer. But for those of us after more scares than mediocre adventuring, there’s many other games out there that can fulfil your needs.
Uncanny Valley is available to buy from the Xbox Store, priced at £10.39.
What's Uncanny is the lack of scares in this horror game...
What sets out to be an intriguing horror/mystery title is hampered by its own inability to actually raise a scare. Whilst not a bad game, it’s certainly lacking excitement.