Working at a mortuary isn’t the scariest job in the world, though it isn’t glamorous. But when you add demon possession and jump scares, you have a timed horror experience that piles on the fear. The Mortuary Assistant forces you to confront horrors around every turn as you try to banish the demon trying to possess you.
The items necessary to perform your tasks are always in different locations, with no playthrough being the same as before. Jump scares are constantly hounding you, trying to psych you out and trick you. While some controls are awkward and graphic flaws bring the experience down, horror fans will enjoy this thrilling game.
The Mortuary Assistant is available on PC for USD 24.99.
Story – Possessed By Demons
You take on the role of Rebecca, a young woman finishing up her internship at the River Fields Mortuary. Her boss, Raymond, is ready to finalize her employment, but asks her to come in on her first day right away. Rebecca enters the mortuary to find an empty place and three dead bodies to inspect.
Nothing is wrong initially, until Rebecca notices someone outside the mortuary. Raymond contacts Rebecca and tells her that a demon is targeting her for possession. She must embalm three dead bodies and learn clues to find out the demon’s name and the body it inhabits. If she gets it right, the demon goes away forever. Should she get it wrong, the game ends.
The Mortuary Assistant’s story isn’t too deep, similar to Hello Neighbor 2. You run around the mortuary looking for clues to dispel the proper demon. While Rebecca’s story does go deeper if you successfully clear a few shifts, it’s not an epic narrative. The story does a good job of establishing the setting, but it’s also a basic horror plot. You must stay in the mortuary even though leaving would be the smarter option. A mortuary has the tools necessary to subdue demons, even though medical professionals would definitely have noticed this. You ignore all of that, because the game wouldn’t succeed without it.
Thankfully, The Mortuary Assistant doesn’t require an in-depth story to be an enjoyable experience. Its true strength lies in its ability to scare you and put pressure on the player.
Gameplay – Horrors At Every Turn
The Mortuary Assistant is a horror game, trying to scare you once you step inside the mortuary. As you learn how to play, everything seems normal. But when you step into the mortuary as the demon roams about, everything is different. Item locations are rarely the same in every run, and the demon changes too. To psych you out, the demon conjures up images and crawls around the mortuary, trying to make you lose focus.
When you first play the game, the fear factor is turned up. You must continue with your work since it is the only way to learn the demon’s identity. But the demon doesn’t want you to continue, and will try freaking you out.
You must embalm bodies as part of your job, and the demon is hiding in one of the bodies. While working, you must also try to learn the demon’s name and its association. If you try to skip steps, you will fail (get possessed) and the game ends. Raymond delivers his instructions in the form of cassette tapes, since the demon can hack into phone lines. By following the instructions properly, you can successfully banish the demon.
While you can’t be harmed, trying to play without knowing what to expect is scary. Dead bodies will start moving, visions will force you to interact with them, and ghostly figures hide behind doors. This doesn’t include the various beings who slither behind cupboards and push you down. You don’t know if something will jump out at you, or if you are making the right decision. The Mortuary Assistant does a great job in making you doubt yourself.
Focus – Constant Interruptions
The process to destroy the demon is straightforward, but going through it is anything but. Just like Rogue AI Simulator, the instructions aren’t difficult to follow and you will remember the steps. Unfortunately for you, the mortuary’s items are scrambled everywhere. Item locations change to prevent you from memorizing your way out. You must interact with a large portion of the office to find the tools you need for embalming. This also means the demon has multiple opportunities to scare you.
The Mortuary Assistant surprises you when you least expect it, and you don’t know what to expect each time. Sometimes you can pull a body from cold storage and it looks normal. Other times, it has a smile on its face. Does that mean anything? Sometimes, but not always. Maybe you’re reading too much into it and must continue the embalming process. As you are finding the liquids necessary for embalming, something is standing outside a window, looking at you. There are plenty of jump scares to make you dread continuing because you don’t want more scares.
While you can adapt to the scares and they become normal, it’s still frightening when you first play. You have no idea what to expect, and you don’t feel safe. It’s easy to give up and not want to continue because you’re afraid. The horror experience chills you to your bones, and it’s hard to find a game that does it as well in a short amount of time.
Unfortunately, that horror experience is sometimes marred with frustration as the controls aren’t always working with you.
Controls – Inconsistent Tasks
Moving the dead bodies to and from cold storage is an important part of gameplay, but the gurney is frustrating. Moving around and looking is easy, but trying to turn the gurney will take a significant amount of time. It doesn’t matter if you use the mouse or a controller, the gurney’s speed is slow. While this does ramp up the tension in the beginning, you dread the gurney because it is slow rather than scary. You fear the demon scaring you, but you also fear the gurney because it’s inconvenient to interact with.
Interacting with objects can also be confusing at times. There are two classifications, small and large objects. You can’t hold more than two large objects at once, and have to drop them if you picked one up by accident. To use them, you must right click on an object in the mortuary and use them that way. Small objects can be picked up easily and are automatically used when necessary, like a key opening a door.
It is difficult to grasp at first, because the objects don’t appear to be different in size. But since they are classified differently, you must adapt in the middle of gameplay. It’s also easy to accidentally pick something up or drop it. While none of these actions will cost you the game, it’s annoying to deal with and replaces fear with frustration.
Audio & Visuals – Something’s Not Right
The Mortuary Assistant has great atmospheric sounds. It’s easy to tell when something is out of place, because the audio will sharply change. Sometimes no sounds play at all, which is equally as frightening. When it comes to proper audio timing, this game hits all the right notes.
In contrast, the visual aspect seems to miss the mark. While the demonic and supernatural presences are appropriately scary, everything else seems to miss the mark. When you see a human, it feels uncanny. Visual glitches are sometimes seen when human beings are talking, and the way they move doesn’t feel human. While it’s not a large focus of the game and the mortuary is appropriately scary, it is odd to see.
The Mortuary Assistant was reviewed on PC with a code provided by Darkstone Digital.