For darkness, shivers and monsters, the time of year is actually not the right one. Sunshine, good mood and ice, however, are more on the agenda. It is all the worse that current world events, despite summerly euphoria, teach us fear and that a blond rooster, whose name does not need to be mentioned here, fuels the whole thing even more. But all of this will be forgotten if you have to deal with the fear and paranoia in Song of Horror.
The first episode of the horror adventure appeared on Steam last October. Now, eight months later, the development studio Protocol Games, in cooperation with the publisher Raiser, has published the fifth and final chapter of the wonderfully terrible game – meanwhile also available for PS4, soon the Xbox One is also to be supplied.
Song of Horror uses proven game elements from classics such as Silent Hill and Resident Evil to create a scary atmosphere.
A solid story with an exciting atmosphere
At the beginning of Episode 1, you take control of Daniel Noyer. A failed entrepreneur who has just overcome alcoholism and is trying to make ends meet by working for a publisher. One Friday evening, Daniels boss asks him to visit the well-known author Sebastian P. Husher because he has not been available for a long time. Reluctantly, you make your way to Husher's house. Once there, you will find the front door unlocked. In addition, neither the author nor his family can be found. During your initial tour of discovery, some strange things happen to you, but Daniel first stamps them as imaginations. Shortly before you want to give up your search, you find a strange door that just pops up next to Daniel. That may not be wise, but since the game would otherwise be quite short, Daniel decides to walk through the mysterious gate.
Source: PC Games
During the five episodes, you not only try to find out what happened to the Hushers, but you also learn more and more about the dark forces that are responsible for all of the events. Each chapter has its own unique ambience. Whether an antique shop, a historical institute or an abandoned monastery, all places have an extremely eerie basic mood, which is further intensified by the excellent musical accompaniment. The whole thing is complemented by convincingly well-used light and dark effects. The framework story is located shortly before the turn of the millennium, but the locations in which you are staying correspond more to the beginning and the middle of the 20th century. This gives the various chapters an ancient flair, which further enhances the creepy mood. In addition, this mixture ensures that you always come across both modern and obsolete objects and techniques, which you often have to use in a clever way to advance.
1-ups with personality
Source: PC Games
Each episode after the first begins with you first having to choose a character, in between there is always a switch back to Daniel. The protagonists differ not only visually, but also by attributes (speed, unobtrusiveness, strength and serenity) and individual objects that they carry with them. In addition, all characters interact differently with their environment, which makes them highly human and makes it particularly painful when one blesses time. In the highest level of difficulty – which is selected by default – the number of characters also symbolizes the amount of "life" that you have available.
Once you've used up all of your lives, you have to start the entire episode all over again. Even if the concept gives your deaths a lot more meaning, it is a bit strange that the death of these characters is hardly commented on by the main protagonist Daniel. Whether it is lifesavers who are dying, the boss or the ex-wife, Daniel remains relaxed and simply continues to work with the successor as if nothing had happened. After all, the supporting character with whom you ended the last episode is visible in the final cutscene and can be played again in the next chapter.
Source: PC Games
As soon as you have decided on a character, you start in front of the building of the current episode. When exploring, objects are marked with which you can interact. The sheer number of interaction options is a bit annoying. Few of them play a role in further progress. Fortunately, the essential items and tools are recognizable enough that not every point needs to be examined. Similar to many other point and click adventures, Song of Horror also has problems with the fixed camera perspective. When changing the view, it often takes a few moments for your direction inputs to be adopted by the game as you imagine. Especially when the going gets tough and you are on the run, the camera can sometimes thwart you. Annoying because all the monsters take you out with one hit.
Gameplay, not just jump scares
Source: PC Games
Speaking of the behemoths, you are constantly haunted by a mysterious entity that can take many forms. Their approaches are also always different. The sequences in which you encounter the monster are all very nerve-wracking and usually frighten you. Unfortunately, the associated quick-time events are a bit unfortunate, as they create panic moments, but they quickly lose their appeal and lead to cramps in the fingers – especially for characters with 'low values in the strength attribute.
What gets really tiring with ongoing gameplay is that any room you haven't explored is a potential death trap. To avoid this, you can listen to each door beforehand and, if nothing sounds suspicious, you can also enter. However, after 100 doors and more you get a bit tired of this mechanism. We liked the fact that most of the adversaries did not appear to be scripted. This means that you never feel safe even when you revisit areas.
Source: PC Games
The most difficult moments in Song of Horror are not those in which you have to escape the horrible creatures. Instead, the biggest challenge is to solve the various puzzles. The brains are all completely different and always challenge your brain cells in a creative way. In one of the puzzles, for example, you have to replace broken fuses and make sure when replacing that you apply the same amperage as before. Or you have to mix chemicals in the right proportions to make a liquid that shows traces of blood. Often you also need the right utensils or instructions to solve a riddle at all. The combination of detective work, puzzles and the constant state of fear that certain death could lurk around the next corner harmonize perfectly with each other.
If you want to experience real horror beyond lame jump scares, Song of Horror is the right choice. The atmosphere in the various locations is excellent, the story is convincing and almost all of the puzzles are really tough. Even if there are one or two blemishes and unfortunately there is no German voice output available, the playable detective thriller delivers a consistently scary experience. Especially if you play with headphones and minimal lighting.
Rating & opinion
That's what horror looks like!
With so many disappointing films in recent years, I've learned to stay away from the horror genre. When I tested Song of Horror, I didn't have very high expectations. But after a very short time I realized that my original prejudices were completely out of place. The game builds up a very scary setting within a very short time. Lighting effects, music and the constant fear of being attacked by a monster at any moment are immensely captivating. Sometimes the gaming experience was so nerve-wracking that I completely forgot when I was playing that I was sitting in the middle of an open-plan office. The mood is complemented by extremely demanding puzzles, which admittedly almost span the arc in terms of the level of difficulty, but are definitely solvable and also provide some quiet moments in addition to variety. The technical shortcomings are also manageable for an indie title, which is why Song of Horror is absolutely recommendable for every scary fan.
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At the beginning of each episode, you have a choice of one of four characters, each with different strengths. (Source: PC Games)