IntroductionClaire: Extended Cut is a 2D retro-styled side-scrolling horror-survival game developed and published by Hailstorm Games. Previously released for PC 2 years ago, the extended cut makes its way to both the PC community, the consoles, and PlayStation Vita. Help Claire find the answers to the encounters around every corner that haunt and threaten her life. You can buy the game on Steam for $9.99, PlayStation Store for $14.99, or Xbox Marketplace at a later time.
StoryYou play as a young girl named Claire who's mother has fallen ill and been admitted to the hospital. Though this isn't the first time for her mother, it will be the first time Claire's nightmares begin to unravel into something more. Upon visiting one night, Claire steps out of her mother's room in search of the sweet power that is caffeine. Wandering around the hospital will lead to her finding more than she ever could have wanted as the environments shifts and changes.
The backstory of Claire and her past actions and memories is told as you further progress in the game. There is a quality to the story but also an undertone of Silent Hill; making it feel a little unoriginal if you are a hardcore enthusiast of older horror/survival games and their plots. The game has multiple endings based on the actions you perform while playing (almost several different endings), which is a great feature that I'm sure nobody would ever be upset having.
GameplayThe controls are simple, and the concepts of applying them to the gameplay are just as easy to grasp. As a side-scrolling game, you'll obviously be able to move left or right, but also you're able to jump, dash, and interact with things. Jumping is almost more of a formality to have; it allows the player to avoid feeling so constrained inside a 2D walking simulator but offers no true platform gameplay of any kind. Occasionally you'll be chased by something evil and scary, but you have nothing to defend yourself. Not even the German Shepard you partner with can protect you. The only way to survive these encounters is to run and hide, putting as much space and as many doorways as you can between you and the dark entity. The dash button does help tremendously when you feel that initial panic but quickly becomes unreliable due to Claire becoming exhausted.
Progressing through the game and the many hallways of each map, you'll find your objectives to be fairly vague or feeling non-existent. It's up to you to track (and backtrack) the maps to find clues, puzzles, and/or significant items required to further move on. Immediately following the release on consoles, there were found several bugs and glitches related to backtracking specific environments. Hailstorm Games has been active to acknowledge and patch these annoyances quickly. The game runs smooth for the most part, and aside from the depth confusion dealing with the interacting of objects in the background of the 2D screen, everything is straightforward and immersive into the environment.
While searching for main quest items, you'll come across a handful of side quests where you'll offer help to random people along the way. These side quests will mostly consist of searching for a specific object of personal value to the individual, hidden somewhere throughout the map. Doing these side quests builds Claire's karma, ultimately what decides which of the endings occur for you. Inventory is a factor as well while playing. Scattered around are batteries for the flashlight, health kits, and lock picks used to access new areas along the way.
Sound and GraphicsIf you've ever played Lone Survivor, you'll find many similarities in the presentation of both regarding sound and graphics. Eerie feelings of creeping horrors in the dark are magnified with crisp sound effects, and the music only compliments it all. The soundtrack plays a handful of songs that, during their respective parts in the game, make for some really memorable moments. The graphics, obvious through the screenshots provided, are made in pixel fashion. This may either prevent interest of some gamers or draw them in tightly. Everything feels very retro-inspired and in good taste.
The blood, horrific enemies, canine companion, and even Claire herself look well created and are easy to watch. The theme of the game is to cause great suspense and an overwhelming feeling of darkness, hence the shadow flooded screen while playing, but I would have liked to see a better lighting system implemented. Perhaps following closer to a Silent Hill, where the environment is consistently more lit up, then when danger approaches or when entering a dangerous place, everything becomes dark and blanketed with shadows. It doesn't take away from the scary moments found within already, but a variation would have made for a more living world.
ConclusionThe game accomplishes its purpose of providing a dreadful environment. The helpless feeling that comes from not being able to combat the dark and grotesque figures trying to kill you means running and hiding is the only way to survive this nightmare. Pixel graphics may not appeal to everyone, but those who look into a game for the story and experience more than the realistic immersion can find it to be a great indie title with a bunch of replay value via the multiple endings. Hailstorm Games has already been hard at work to make patches and fixes to the game; a greatly appreciated commitment that shows the care and attention put into the development from the very beginning.
|+ Interesting main story and backstory||- Environments are too dark at times|
|+ Intense moments of dread when chased||- Shallow diversity in gameplay|
|+ Multiple endings mean good replay value|