20 years ago your wife mysteriously disappears, without a trace, inside of a manor you two were staying at. For 20 years you wondered what happened, and you heard stories about other disappearances from inside that reinforced the mystery. There's no more wondering now. You're at the gates, and it's time you find out what happens after 30 nights inside.
In 2014, PC players were introduced to a horror title that aimed to chill the spines of anyone brave enough to venture down Pineview Drive and into the haunted manor at the end. You will take control of the unnamed man staring upon the evil structure from gates afar. His story and reasons for arrival are unfortunate and without stupidity. Some could even say it is noble. 20 years ago, he and his wife Linda were staying at the mansion, when without a trace she disappeared. It's haunted him for far too long, and the legends of nobody being able to survive more than 30 nights within the building have led him to feel obliged in an attempt to break whatever evil resides inside. It's a pretty good concept but does the game deliver?
The game begins with a short and obscure scene that makes little to no sense, but still you find yourself just outside the gated fence of the property. From this point on (even though it's literally 10 seconds into the game), you will be in a constant cycle of look for a key, look for a matching lock, and then look for a diary page. This repetitive idea stay true throughout the entire game and is just about the only gameplay concept you'll find aside from searching around in hopes of acquiring more batteries for your flashlight. The only thing that makes it tricky is the fact there are so many locked doors and you have no idea which is which. So long as you remain thorough from room to room, and move in somewhat of a system down the halls that work for you then it won't be an impossible task.
Sooner or later you're bound to get lucky finding a matching lock for a previously found key, but I found myself struggling to understand at what point during each of the 30 nights that I needed to change my searching for a key into a search for a page. Finding the page is crucial to progressing past the night, and beginning the next days cycles. It gets incredibly dark in the game, so making sure you grab the previously mentioned flashlight batteries and unused matches is essential. I played the game with my brightness turned all the way up, and and even then I couldn't see anything in the dark unless I clicked on my flashlight (not a tremendous difference, especially outside). You have an unlimited amount of time to search, and although each day starts off bright and sunny, it quickly turns into the dark world of confusion and limited visibility that I just explained.
Scares are pretty weak and will come more from you personally being scared of the dark or small anxieties from what might be lurking nearby (completely based on your personality and fears, but I didn't find anything spooky and I am a big scaredy cat). If you try to make the most out of the game and you try to search for apparitions, you'll unfortunately be met with a loss of health (yes, you have a health bar). You won't be physically attacked or anything, but the game tries to punish you for being scared. Almost like a heart attack meter. The issue with this is that you don't get scared, you just get curious to see something instead of being bored and frustrated looking for keys and locks. It's a pretty flawed system, but this is what the game offers.
Sound and Graphics
I played the game on the PS4, so perhaps everything performs differently on the PC, but what I experienced was extremely unpolished. The amount of screen tearing for a game with underwhelming graphics was so extreme that I couldn't help but feel as though I was playing a developer's concept model that was still early on in the process. The first thing I did when the protagonist was playable was spin around looking at it all, in complete and utter shock that it had a $30 price tag attached to it, nonetheless passed the inspection before being added to the store. The graphics are extremely bare and plain except for when you are searching through rooms and hallways where there's a lot more to be admired (when you can actually see).
The game was designed for the dark to cover its flaws and imperfections, but the game begins in the nicely lit morning, and we all know how important first impressions are. The only thing that I can genuinely say was pretty well done was the audio. The slamming of doors, the gasping of the protagonist when something lurks nearby, or the brushing of trees and bushes outside of the manor; they all make the atmosphere that is present in the game everything that it is. It's the one good thing the game has going for it, making it somewhat salvageable of an experience if you have a pair of over the ear headphones.
I've been pretty tough on Pineview Drive, but not without good reason(s). I wanted to like the game, and I could forgive some small time graphical details in a title, but the amount of unpolished mechanics, both gameplay structure and performance, were such disappointments that everything feels like a mess. Perhaps it's just a bad port from PC that got damaged somehow in the transition, or maybe my TV and PlayStation teamed up and decided to screw me over while I played this game and this game only.
Either way, there are far too many games to purchase before giving this one a try. Maybe if you've tried every first person "horror" game on the marketplace, and can find this on the complete other side of the price spectrum, then yeah why not give it a shot? Hopefully it will somehow receive some much needed patches in the future to make it more convenient of an experience, and less of an eyesore, but until then, just know what you're getting yourself into beforehand if you pull the trigger on it.