By Isaiah Soto
In Those Who Remain, you start off as a miserable drunk person who has had, I’d say, like four to five whiskeys. And you have a gun. And you’re thinking about shooting yourself when you get a text from your girlfriend, Diane. She asks you to come to a motel to meet her. Right away, you go there with your red minivan and you pull up to the motel.
It’s creepy. You see that nobody is outside. It’s raining, gloomy and it’s pitch black and the dim light from the motel isn’t helping. You park your car, get out and you finally start using the game controller. I mean, the game looks impressive graphics-wise, but it’s old-school at the same time. I wasn’t sure what I was in for. But when I say you can’t judge a book by its cover, it’s really the truth. Once I start using the controls, it feels like an old PC game. The controls are clunky but you walk around and check things out. I thought the game was bad because of this. But I wrong; once you get going, I think it’s a amazing game
So you walk through the motel grounds. At the check-in, there’s a tinny blues-rock song playing. Trash cans are pushed over windows and I’m disgusted by the trashy look of it. But anyways, you ring the bell, waiting for somebody to come and give you customer service. When nobody came, I got clues to find a key to let me into Diane’s room. It’s under the doormat and I think it should’ve been harder to find. So you find the key and you make yourself feel welcome but you don’t see or hear anybody except the shower running and you going inside into the bathroom but nobody is in there. When the phone rings, a voice whispers, “Stay in the light.” And there’s news of “disappearances” in the newspaper that’s left on the bed. Creepy.
But wait. I hear a car turn on and run outside. My car is stolen! And suddenly I’m at a location called Dormont, walking the highway, pitch black. And I see my car – on fire. I see someone past the flames and I get scared. But they don’t move and that’s when I thought the game needed work. Because the people don’t move. So anyways you have to get past them which you do, but now everything is flipped, like everything is floating. It’s weird: the people aren’t people anymore. It’s like a nightmare, and the people change. But they don’t move either so I really thought it was a bad game at this point. But that’s just how Those Who Remain works.
Anyways, in that world you can move stuff – like you change your world while you’re in that world. So you look through the things at a closed gas station and there’s a car and vines growing on the car and you have to use this, like, rubber thing to take off weeds and vine and you take off all that stuff and you open the car door and you have to turn on the light and then you go back into your world. It changes again, and it’s like two worlds collided in one.
Soon, I discovered clues leading to a grim death, which is something I didn’t expect! Every time you kill or need to save someone the music becomes very tense, adding to the terror I feel. You get to save people, or kill them with multiple spiders. And it’s really crazy. You can be chased by big gigantic spiders as well, and then are chased by a demonic woman, which I have come past a couple of times. It’s all cool because it’s like a horror movie.
If you want to have a scary experience, I’d recommend Those Who Remain, especially if you’re just by yourself and the lights are turned off. When you play along, you really get the chills like something’s behind your back. Once you get past a third of the game, your whole life changes, not only the story, but the challenge of puzzles and obstacles get more difficult. Those Who Remain is a great game because it changes the way you think about the characters as you solve a wild mystery about someone’s death.
Isaiah Soto, a regular NYVGCC contributor, is a member of our Lower East Side Critics Circle.