Developer: Shawn Hitchcock
Publisher: SKH Apps
Genre: Action, Adventure, Casual, Horror, Indie, Strategy
Audience: PEGI 12
Release Date: 22/02/2019
Price: £3.99 – Rapid Reviews UK were very kindly provided with a review code for this title.
What the Developers say
There is reportedly an evil inside that house. Something about an old funeral parlor offering a last chance to talk to their dead loved ones. Plus something about lights, laughter, a girl, missing people, etc… You know the same stuff everyone claims. Take a team, and check the place out.
Horror games have been a staple of the gaming community since the early 1980s, eventually hitting their stride during the PlayStation era with games like Silent Hill and Resident Evil. With the advancements in gaming hardware came some drastic changes to the formula of fixed camera angles, pre-rendered environments and clunky control schemes. The latest resurgence in the horror genre is a very different beast. Enter Pacify, a first-person, sometimes frantic horror game created by Shawn Hitchcock, the same man that brought us the, “Emily Wants to Play” series. The best part? This game has both a coop and PVP element to it.
We begin outside a particularly large house during a thunderstorm with a man being told to investigate the entire house. And thus begins a long and terrifying night of hide and seek with one of the creepiest little girls in gaming history.
Looks and Sounds
The first thing you may notice is the muted colour scheme the game uses to add to the atmosphere. Colours are present, but they are a bit washed out. Which one could imagine are to add age to the house. The house, in particular, looks fantastic. As you traverse it, you’ll come across a variety of set pieces, all of which are rendered realistically. The lighting effects are also quite impressive, particularly for an Indie project. This is also very important because much of the game is very dark, requiring your character to navigate while using a flashlight. The only part of the presentation that I thought was on the weak side was the animation.
Player models move fluidly while running around, but the antagonist has some stiff animations. I think her shuffle walk is meant to be, but when she catches an ally, the animations seem to be a bit jittery. The evil little girl you’ll be running from has a great character model. Her face is particularly creepy, and the way her eyes look around brings some life into this undead abomination.
One of the games biggest strengths is the sound design. There are ambient sounds like creeks of doors opening and closing throughout the house, which immediately builds tension even just as you enter the house. Once the little girl gets remotely close, you’ll also hear her small feet pattering against the floor, as she shuffles towards you. One sound, in particular, made me jump immediately, and that is when the antagonist goes into a pseudo demon mode.
She screams and almost moans in agony, and it doesn’t seem to matter where in the house you are. You’ll hear it. As she’s in this mode hunting for you with far more speed than when shes just shuffling around, she also makes a low pitched groaning sort of sound which is almost just as unsettling. There is also no music to speak of during gameplay which helps the player feel more alone. All in all, the sound makes this game a tense experience, particularly your first few attempts.
Gameplay and Replayability
The core gameplay borrows some elements from horror games of the past while also adding a new twist that I’d never had to deal with before. Much like the Outlast series you cannot arm yourself. Your only option is to sprint as fast as you can and try not to corner yourself. Thankfully there is no limit to how long you can sprint. Early on it is easy to get cornered because a majority of the doors require a key and finding these keys is the primary objective during the first 30 to 60 minutes of a playthrough. Once you have those, you need to find one of nine marked dolls. The marked dolls are grey with black markings. And the creepy part about trying to gather these dolls is that they periodically will giggle and run around, making it so that they are never going to be in the same spot.
This adds some challenge since you can only carry a single doll at a time and even making a note of another location doesn’t mean it will stick around until you get back. There is a second type of doll which looks like a generic, but normal doll. These are essential items you can use to save yourself if the antagonist gets to you. Dropping it in front of her temporarily distracts her and allows you to create some distance between you and her.
The marked dolls will need to be set afire in the boiler room and to do this you will need to watch for wood and matches as you search for these dolls. Just like with the dolls you can only carry one wood and one box of matches at a time, so you need to make sure you’re ready to burn something before starting the fire since it doesn’t tend to last too long.
The game isn’t all that long. The first successful time might take you two to three hours, even with three others in co-op. What helps save the game and add to the replayability is the fact that you’ll be playing with others which adds a different experience nearly every time. Most people played seriously in the games I played, but occasionally you’ll get someone who is just there to mess around, but that’s the case with most multiplayer games. The game also avoids being too easy by not giving you a way to communicate with allies. At first, it was a bit frustrating, but I eventually realised it would make the game far too easy. You can, of course, get around this if you have friends and use Discord.
Another thing as I previously mentioned that helps keep the replayability fairly high is the fact that the marked dolls you’re hunting for move around, only periodically freezing in place for a few minutes. Not to mention the evil little girl doesn’t wander a set path since she responds to sound, light and seeing you, so you’ll always be on your toes even once you’ve played through it a few times.
Pacify is one of the scariest games I’ve played recently. Much of the fear factor comes from the tension created by the enemy and the environment, but it also is capable of some pretty chilling jump scares. While the game itself is short and not particularly full of content, what content it does offer is of good quality and the game has enough randomness to it to keep you playing for 10 to 20 hours, depending on how much you enjoy the genre.
To get the most out of it, give it a shot by yourself first, then hop into the co-op mode as it’s the way the game was meant to be played. I would have talked about the PVP element, but sadly nobody was making rooms for it, and when I tried, I waited 15 minutes to see if people would join – they did not. All in all, for a brand new game, costing just $5 and the fact that it doesn’t require long sessions to get entirely through, it’d be an excellent game for a few friends to play over a weekend or two.
Rapid Reviews UK Rating
You can purchase Pacify on the Steam store on the following link,