In The Suicide of Rachel Foster, a spooky mystery-thriller game set in the early 1990s. The player takes control of a character named Nicole. Who returns to her families long-abandoned hotel in the hope of selling it. Nicole is reluctant to return to the hotel. Due to a tragic family history associated with the hotel. The player quickly realises this tragedy involves the suicide of Rachel Foster, a girl whom Nicole’s father had an affair. After getting stuck at the hotel due to a snowstorm, Nicole is contacted (over the mobile telephone) by Irving. A nervous FEMA agent who quickly becomes Dr Watson to her Sherlock. As things start to feel out of place within the hotel. A mystery soon ensues with Nicole and Irving finding out what happened to Rachel Foster.
After completing The Suicide of Rachel Foster’s relatively short campaign. What stood out was how well the developers built the games incredibly eery and creepy atmosphere. A combination of the silent but battering snowstorm, making the hotel creek and shudder. Combined with the classic tight corridors you expect from a mystery-thriller game of this style and the dim lighting of the hotel itself. Created an atmosphere both engaging and genuinely creepy and scary. I was impressed by the games ability to make you feel that you were not alone in the hotel. Even simple additions such as making your character’s movement painfully slow. To get the effect of creaking floorboards. Built an atmosphere that made me second guess if I wanted to enter that particular room or turn that corner.
The atmosphere and tension are further built upon in the games central story moments and plot points. Throughout the campaign, several story moments created a high level of uncertainty. That made me convinced that whatever was lurking in the house would show its supernatural face. I frequently found myself, jumping at the simplest moments of a door creaking. Clutching my controller convinced something horrifying would happen. Quicky to realise, it was all in my imagination. It is through these particular story moments; this game is at its best. The game successfully creates an atmosphere and tension that fully engages the player. Making them fearful of what will happen next. Likewise, the games plot points and twists also make it stand out with surprises and shocks. Accredited to the developer’s ability to craft an engaging, creepy and atmospheric led story.
The Suicide of Rachel Foster also has great art direction. The game looks excellent with great polish and graphical fidelity. Evident in the hotel’s highly detailed, Americanised look. Furthermore, the games 90’s feel is incredibly appealing. I wondered throughout the hotel, gazing at old NASA rocket ship posters. Chuckling at the characters genuine scepticism about the effectiveness of using a mobile telephone with Irving. It is fascinating and shows the stong writing and dialogue present throughout the game.
However, this is where this game flounders. Despite strong writing and dialogue, Nicole and Irving’s constant interactions over the telephone unimmersed me from the story. In multiple scenarios, I found myself when at the high point of a story point fully engaged in the story’s tension and eeriness—given a reality check when the player’s character Nicole rings Irving. Disengaging me and devaluing the tenseness of the moment.
Similarly, navigation is also a significant flaw in this game. As already mentioned, movement is purposely slow, which is a positive. However, this, combined with no player location marker on the map. Makes exploration and progression through the story a chore. I found myself continually getting lost at a tortoise neck speed. Creating a frustrating experience that led to a similar lack of immersion.
The games save states also have significant flaws ruining the immersion of the game. For example, if you quit the game during a particular day of the games’ main story and rejoin hours later. It starts you from the beginning of the day. Meaning you have to start that particular day all over again. This, in addition to a few progression glitches which ruined immersion. Such as the game giving no prompts about what to do next after I continued a playthrough. Limited my immersion further.
All in all, The Suicide of Rachel Foster is an okay but not great game. It is a well-polished 90’s style mystery-thriller game. That tries hard to create an atmosphere of tension and creepiness with twists you expect from a game of this style. For the most part, it succeeds, but never reaches its full potential due to multiple flaws that ruin the game’s immersion that it tries so hard to build.