Stifled Game Review – Innovative Horror Experience
+ A horror game with a unique concept
+ Requires a bit of thinking to overcome obstacles
+ It gets even more intense in VR
+ Wireframe visuals means that you don’t need a strong PC to run the game
+ Provides a bit of challenge, but not overly difficult
- Piecing together the narrative makes the story rather vague
- Gameplay is somewhat repetitive
- Low replayability value
Looking for a new horror game? Bored of the usual zombies, monsters and murderers? This echolocation-based horror game, Stifled, might be the one for you.
Stifled Horror Game Review
I’ve been wanting to do this for a while but had trouble finding the time to truly enjoy it. Sure, partly it’s also because I’m scared but as a game reviewer, I gotta do my job. Let’s take a look at arguably one of the most innovative horror games in recent times, Stifled.
What is Stifled About?
Stifled is a horror game developed by Singaporean game development studio Gattai Games. In the game, players take control of David Ridley, a man whose mind is slowly fracturing under the weight of heartbreak, turning his world dark. What makes Stifled a very unique game is that you see through sound via a process known as echolocation.
Each sound you make generates a wave which will then reveal your surroundings. You can do so by tossing in-game items such as rocks, or even use your own voice. As crucial as it is to navigate through the game, doing so will attract the attention of grotesque and terrifying creatures that are lurking in the dark. Your life is on the line and it could mean the end for you if you fail to stifle yourself.
This game was initially a PlayStation 4-exclusive title but eventually made its way to PC this year. You can check out the game on Steam by clicking right here.
Using Sound to See
At the beginning of the game, you’ll be able to see everything as clear as daylight as it is before protagonist David Ridley suffered severe “effects” from heartbreak. It’s meant to show you the basics of how the game works as you pick up some items, move around, present you with the premise of Stifled and eventually progress through the brunt of the game.
The game truly begins when everything becomes pitch black all of a sudden and you somehow gained an affinity for echolocation. From this point onwards, you will have to rely on this new echolocation skill to make your way forward. You can use your shoes, items such as rocks that are lying around, or basically speak so that there will be waves being generated to your surroundings.
These waves will then temporarily map out your surroundings, in mostly black and white, so you’ll have an idea as to where you need to go or if there’s something blocking your way. Keep in mind that you are not the only living being making sound so you can tell if there’s something to take note of if there is sound coming from a different location that you can spot in your perimeter.
Since it is a horror game, you will have to be careful as there will be strange, hostile creatures around who will not only make noise, but also move towards you if you make any sound whatsoever. These soundwaves will be easier to spot as it is coloured in red instead but it’s not always that you can find see something that is making the red waves. Sometimes, it’s just there but you can’t truly see it, which adds to the horror experience.
Can You Think Under the Immense Pressure and Fear?
Generally speaking, all you have to do is move forward, find clues which makes up for the game’s narrative and overcome the obstacles that have been set in front of you. However, this is easier said than done as it isn’t an action-horror game where you have access to guns to eliminate the threat like Resident Evil. Instead, all you have to rely on is your wit and wisdom.
For example, there will be times where certain creatures will be out to get you but they can only detect you if they hear you. Every movement you make will have a sound accompanying it and it might just be enough to alert them. Stand still and you’ll be enveloped in complete darkness. So what can you do to surpass the ordeal?
Well, for most parts, all you have to do is create a distraction. This could be as simple as tossing your shoe or a rock elsewhere so the creature will move towards that direction, while you make your way to wherever you need to go. In this sense, there’s really not much else you can do which may make gameplay feel a bit repetitive but as to how you go about it can be a bit tricky at times.
For most parts, there’s going to be plenty of trial and error with certain parts being frustratingly confusing or difficult to pass. It’s not a Dark Souls-esque difficulty but it can be a bit of a pain when the solution ends up being a little illogical, though this doesn’t happen a lot. If you were expecting a bit of variety as to how you solve these obstacles, you are going to be disappointed.
When you see it from a perspective of a horror experience, it is a good game. Walking around in a pitch black environment and the wireframe visuals shaping up according to the soundwaves you make can be very nerve-wracking, especially since the very tool you need to navigate is the same one that can lead you to danger.
While the creatures aren’t exactly that creepy by today’s standards, having them chase you while you are trying to make an escape route for yourself or even stay still in hopes of it not catching you will your heart beating intensely. If this isn’t scary enough for you, you can actually play Stifled in VR, which brings the horror experience to the next level as it truly feels like you are there in person.
Stifled brings an innovative spin to horror games. It doesn’t follow the typical cliché of having the undead or a serial killer out to get you, which makes the game feel like a breath of fresh air. The game shows how much of a psychological impact it can have on a person just by not being able to see anymore.
Like many horror games, it does have its fair share of jumpscares but I personally don’t feel like it was done cheaply or excessively. It’s not the perfect horror game, and it’s far from masterpieces like Amnesia or Outlast but it is definitely a game that horror-enthusiasts should play once and only once. And if you really want to up the ante, play the game in VR to further intensify your experience. With that in mind, I give Stifled our Silver Pokdeward.