Uncanny Valley is a survival horror game that incorporates puzzle solving, exploring and a bit of action, with an old-school 2D 8-bit look and lots of optional story content. Should you take a trip to the valley? Read our review to find out..
If Alone in the Dark had of been released in 1986, it would probably look and play a lot like Uncanny Valley does but it would be so much better and more enjoyable than this game turned out to be. A side scrolling 2D retro style survival horror mystery set in an abandoned facility, Uncanny Valley tries to capture the essence of modern day horror games and tries to put a slightly different spin on it, but to put it bluntly, it just doesn’t work.
The game starts off by recommending that you play it multiple times to get alternative results from the story each time based on the decisions and direction you choose to take, but after my first play through, very little made me want to go back for a second time, let alone a possible third or fourth, but I wanted to give developer Cowardly Creations the benefit of the doubt so i played it through a few times. Each playthrough can vary on how long it takes to do depending on what paths you take and the decisions you make. Each level or “Day” as it is called in the game has a time limit of around six minutes each and depending on your choices depends on how many of these Days you get through and what you actually unravel within the story itself.
I like the idea that has tried to be created here, I am someone who loves to see developers trying something a little different to what the masses are doing and if I was scoring Uncanny Valley solely on trying to be different then it would get an 8 straight away, but the problem here is that this alternative survival horror is a good idea that has been done badly and it has ended up being a broken, head scratching anti climax. The story is broken up and doesn’t really make any sense even after playing through a few times or more which is a shame because the foundation was laid for it to be quite an engaging story and an intruiging gaming experience but instead it is a game that just never gets going or makes any sense.
There came a time after my second playthrough, where I was sitting with my controller in hand, just staring at the screen trying to figure out what this game is, what I actually thought of it and the more I played of it, the less of an idea I had as to what kind of game it is actually trying to be. There are some things that weren’t all that bad, the archived tape recordings offered some intrigue as to what it was all about and there were things in the game that were a clear nod to where it got its influences from but its all a bit of a mish-mash, trying to be a game that gives the player a fair bit of freedom but then contradicts itself by restricting so much. There were the very rare occasional puzzles and moments when I though that this game was actually going somewhere that would change my opinion of it, but then it would just come to a stand still and left me sighing with disappointment.
Visually Uncanny Valley has adopted the 8-bit style that a lot of the indie titles are using for their art direction in their games and while that visual style suits certain types of games, it does not suit this one at all. It doesn’t add to the atmosphere that the developers are clearly aiming for and if anything it can be a hindrance, mainly when you are trying to read the awful dialogue text boxes that are not only difficult to make out at times but for some reason they are only able to display 5 words at a time. The visual style simply does not suit this game and it just makes me wonder why the developers chose to adopt this style instead of trying to use something a little more pleasing to the eye that could compliment the atmosphere they are aiming for.
The less said about the audio the better really, because it is a mixture of repetitive music that tries to sound spooky, mixed in with distorted screaming and annoying sound effects that just don’t add anything to the experience. The gameplay is very basic and it took a while to get used to not being able to use the left analogue stick to move around, instead having to use the D-Pad, with the left stick being reserved to place objects in your inventory on whatever part you wish to use them on whether that be a key to a door or hitting someone with a fire extinguisher. The controls overall can be un-responsive at times, especially when pressing the floor you want to go to in the elevator, selecting items in your inventory or merely just trying to pick something up but standard walking around was ok despite the awful animations.