REVIEW: ‘Those Who Remain,’ Prime Atmospheric Horror (Xbox One)

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Those Who Remain

Although a story-driven game, Those Who Remain offers an excellent atmospheric horror experience that will test both your sanity and morality. Developed by Camel 101 and published by Wired Productions, Those Who Remain sets the scene in the small, sleepy town of Dormont, placing players in the shoes of an unsuspecting man named Edward.

Edward has made many mistakes in his life, but one which should never have happened in the first place was to cheat on his wife. Hoping to turn a new leaf, Edward’s attempt to make things right has him driving through Dormont in the middle of the night and pulling up to the Golden Oak Motel to end his secret affair. However, Edward is unaware of just how much this night will really change his life.

With a cascade of local disappearances, Dormont isn’t as unbecoming as it seems. Edward realizes this when encountered with mysterious dark figures lurking in the darkness who attack the instant you leave the light’s embrace. Along with meeting a mysterious girl by the name of Annika, Edward realizes that he needs to make his way through Dormont to survive this perilous night. The light seems to ward off the violent figures in the dark, offering players puzzles in the form of altering light sources. These puzzles are fun, quick, and encourage players to explore. So players won’t get held up on puzzles for long and they won’t dampen the impact of the psychological horror aspects of the game.

Another set of puzzles comes in the form of another dimension that Edward can explore. It’s a bit of a Stranger Things‘s upside-down world, where this second dimension is much like reality, just darker, more malevolent. Despite the malignant nature of this other world, Edward needs to find ways to enter this dimension in order to interact with objects and collect information that will alter reality and advance Edward’s journey through Dormont. It’s a stress-inducing part of the game, especially when things turn topsy turvy and the environment begins to change around you. You’ll run in one direction and then turn around to find that the open hallway you just left is now a wall. These cuts are done seamlessly and really emulate Edward’s state of mind in these moments.

Those Who Remain

But those are not the only puzzling things about this game. Players will encounter a mysterious girl, Annika, and a masked man, who demand that Edward judges the lost souls of Dormont. Will you harshly judge these people on their crimes, or forgive them for their sins? The decisions aren’t easy ones, and they’ll surprise you with how ambiguous they are. This element only adds to the esoteric nature of the game and is done in a way as to become almost self-reflective. What do you consider a sin? What if someone commits a crime in the name of love? Do people deserve a second chance?

Dormont is an unsuspecting town and a confusing one at that with the seemingly supernatural occurrences and religious references. However, the world and past events of Those Who Remain opens up quickly with more exploration and by reading letters and newspapers tucked away. Because of the emphasis on exploration, there are a lot of things you can interact with in this game. Understandably, it might get confusing to figure out which objects are significant. The game simplifies things by highlighting the important items you encounter. These items are still hidden, and a decent amount of searching will be needed, but it’s not an obtrusive portion of the game.

The supernatural elements are by themselves quite interesting, including the simple aesthetics the developers added in the form of loading screens that highlight both alchemical symbols and demonic quotes from famous sources. Along with adding sly references here and there such as the use of the name Azrael on kitchen appliances, this attention to detail only adds an extra layer of intrigue.

The developers of Those Who Remain have crafted a game that excellently takes advantage of atmosphere to enhance the horror. The puzzles are simplistic yet fun, and how this game challenges your moral compass makes it more impactful than many other games in the same genre.

Those Who Remain is available now on PC, PS4, Xbox, and Nintendo Switch.

Those Who Remain
  • 9/10
    Rating - 9/10
9/10

TL;DR

The developers of Those Who Remain have crafted a game that excellently takes advantage of atmosphere to enhance the horror. The puzzles are simplistic yet fun, and how this game challenges your moral compass makes it more impactful than many other games in the same genre.