ReviewsReview: Song of Horror

Review: Song of Horror

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Horror is a love it, or hate it genre. You either adore the jump-scares and gore or cower in fear, hoping for the pain to stop. Watching scary films or reading books is fine, but I enjoy the hands-on approach found in video games. Transported from a voyeur to being able to rescue the victims is both rewarding and empowering. Song of Horror is a nod to classic stereotypes and will make you feel uneasy from beginning to end.

Developed by Raiser Games and published by Protocol Games, this is your classic third-person puzzle horror title. With a creepy atmosphere similar to Silent Hill and puzzle and exploration mechanics reminiscent of early Resident Evil games, there is a lot to look forward to and be excited about.

Why would you enter the classic scary house?

Song of Horror will make you uneasy.

In your everyday life, you want to feel safe, secure, and ordinary. Mundane is okay as long as you are in a happy place. Ironically, so many people get a thrill out of being creeped out, yet this is exactly what Song of Horror does. From the moment you step into the eerie world, you are uneasy. It’s horribly atmospheric with jump-scares galore and I loved it for it.

The gameplay follows a handful of genre stereotypes; you have the expected “scary” locations, understated and “ordinary” protagonists, and the one evil entity that bonds it all together. Yet, even though the core elements are familiar, they don’t feel tired and I enjoyed how they were blended.

The story revolves around a missing novelist called Sebastian P. Husher. He was sent a music box to research as its owner could not identify its composer or roots. The mystery item, as you may have guessed, contains the “Song of Horror”. A malevolent entity known as the Presence exists within its four walls, and if you hear its tune, you will perform unspeakable tasks.

Not the cutest of dolls.

A missing writer and a horror box. So where do we fit into all of this?

Sadly the missing author is the publishing firm’s star client and his latest manuscript is hot property. No writer means no new book. The publishers need to know what has happened, and this is where the nightmare begins. You control a roster of characters, and you must investigate Sebastian and his family’s disappearance across five chapters. You visit a mansion, an abbey, a mental hospital, and more in this atmospheric title. It screams cliché, but the locations worked perfectly with the slow-burning suspense.

The scares aren’t about gore and violence, no, it’s about the tension and fear built up from the unknown. Each scary moment is accompanied by a “mini-game”. Hands will claw at a door as you desperately force it shut, or monsters creep around listening to you breathing. You’ll wait with bated breath hoping to survive because Song of Horror adds a nasty twist! If you’re caught that character is permanently deleted.

Permadeath’s not a nice thing and you can switch it off if you wish. But I advise keeping it on. The fear of losing a player keeps you on edge and gives you the full and true experience as intended.

Such romantic lighting.

Intricate puzzles and queer observations.

Like the early Resident Evil titles, this is all about exploration, object gathering, and puzzle-solving. Items must be combined in weird ways to solve the intricate problems. You’ll search cupboards and drawers, pick up objects, examine documents, and piece together clues. It builds a wonderful picture of the surrounding world and gives you a full insight into the man you are searching for.

Song of Horror is as much about problem-solving and jump-scares as it is observing the finer details. I like how this enhanced the fear factor but also made each character relatable. You will listen for sounds behind closed doors, helping you to plan your route. The Presence hides in plain sight, catching you when you least expect it. This caused some genuine “brown trouser” moments, accompanied by screams of fear and pain at the loss of one of your characters. I didn’t know what was more disturbing; soiled underwear, screaming like a girl, or losing one of my characters.

Searching through items raised generic responses, yet there were some nice personal touches. The characters would refer to personal experiences or how the objects made them feel. It was a minor thing, but it added depth and humanity to my virtual “heroes”.

Song of Horror looks great but struggles in tight spaces.

Song of Horror looks great. With wonderfully detailed environments and fantastic use of colour and tone, it looks every inch the classic horror romp. The fixed camera flips and turns as you wander around each room giving you a restricted view. This was fine mostly but was problematic in tighter spaces. It enhanced the claustrophobic nature of those areas but frustrated you as you searched for objects. It showed its early influences with a modern twist, and I appreciated how it was presented.

The audio was both brilliant and terrible. The music sent chills down my spine, genuinely filling me with fear. My jaw hurt from clenching my teeth as I waited to be scared senseless. The sound effects had a similar impact on me and brilliantly sold the horror theme. Therefore, it was disappointing that the acting was so poor. Wooden and hammy delivery undermined much of the audio’s brilliance. You couldn’t help but laugh at its quality, but I’m not sure that is what the developers were aiming for. When you play this, don’t expect Oscar-winning performances and you’ll be fine.

Hold off the Presence.

The controls are good but were impacted by the camera choices.

With a simple layout, Song of Horror is an easy game to play. Helpful tutorial notes pop up as new mechanics are added, and tasks are completed with simple button choices. Sadly, the movement is impacted by the fixed camera perspective. As the view turns, you’ll need to adjust the analogue stick to match. It wasn’t complicated, but it took time to get used to. The mini-games that form a key component of the gameplay are easy to understand and simple to perform. It is a game that is easy to pick up so you’ll be comfortable even when new mechanics are added.

With death being a key concept and every character seeing the world differently, each playthrough has a unique look. The Presence can appear and follows you like a shadowy stalker, so death and failure are just around the corner. For those gamers who wish to explore alternative viewpoints, Song of Horror has plenty of replay value. Combine this with a challenging achievement list and there are lots of reasons to return.

Song of Horror isn’t perfect, but it’s unique with some much-loved influences.

If you love the genre, you are going to fall for Song of Horror and its old-school charm. With nice graphics, atmospheric and creepy audio and likeable characters, it will have you hooked. The puzzles force you to explore even when you want to hide away in the corner and each element complements the others to create a well-rounded experience. I loved it and recommend you to buy it here! A creepy music box, spooky locations, and a malevolent being. Nothing can go wrong, right?

SUMMARY

Song on Horror is a classic old-school horror puzzle title. Full of tense moments and jump-scares, I advise having a spare pair of underwear available. Five chapters set in clichéd locations await you as you try to solve the mysterious disappearance.

+ Excellent graphics.
+ Atmospheric and tense audio.
+ Good controls.
+ Lots of replay value.
+ A unique approach.
- The fixed camera is awkward in closed spaces.
- The acting is terrible.

(Reviewed on the Xbox Series X. Also available on PC and PlayStation.)
Daniel Waite
Daniel Waite
My gaming career started on an Amiga and spans many consoles! Currently, I game using an MSI laptop and Xbox Series X. A fan of every genre, I love to give anything a go. Former editor and reviewer for www.bonusstage.co.uk, I'm loving my new home here at Movies Games and Tech. I can be contacted for gaming reviews on the following email: Daniel@moviesgamesandtech.com

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Song on Horror is a classic old-school horror puzzle title. Full of tense moments and jump-scares, I advise having a spare pair of underwear available. Five chapters set in clichéd locations await you as you try to solve the mysterious disappearance. <br/> <br/> + Excellent graphics. <br/> + Atmospheric and tense audio. <br/> + Good controls. <br/> + Lots of replay value. <br/> + A unique approach. <br/> - The fixed camera is awkward in closed spaces. <br/> - The acting is terrible. <br/> <br/> (Reviewed on the Xbox Series X. Also available on PC and PlayStation.) <br/>Review: Song of Horror