They’re creepy and they’re kooky, mysterious and spooky… It’s another FangByte article! Welcome to our autumnal crop of Halloween themed Fanbyte fun (that we like to call FangByte). Each day on the week of Halloween, we’ll have more pieces dealing with creepy, crawly topics across games and other pop culture. Make sure to check back for more! For now, though, enjoy the following.
If there’s one experience that best sums up my time playing Song of Horror, it’s what happened to me as I was exploring the basement of the Husher mansion. After fumbling around with a fuse box, trying my darndest to get the electricity in the house up and running, I exited the puzzle and turned the corner just in time to see a pale hand pull a closet door shut at the very edge of the screen. Being the wimp that I am, I immediately noped, deciding to spend some quality time with the pause menu while my heart rate settled.
Song of Horror in many ways is a throwback to classic survival horror games like Resident Evil and Alone in the Dark. It has a fixed camera perspective, inventory puzzles, and a somewhat clunky control scheme. But alongside these more traditional features, it also introduces some modern sensibilities. There’s an omnipresent, procedural threat known as The Presence, plus permadeath — just in case exploring the house wasn’t terrifying enough as is. Song of Horror is also being released episodically, with the first two chapters due out on Halloween and later ones to follow.
The game begins with you being tasked to investigate the home of an author who — along with his family and personal assistant — has disappeared under mysterious circumstances. You choose from a selection of four characters: Alina, a security guard; Etienne, the missing author’s friend; Sophie, the assistant’s partner; and Alexander, the house’s caretaker. Each of these characters come with their own stats and a personal item, such as a walkie-talkie that can pick up interference (Alina), a notes folder to record important objects (Etienne), scented candles to relax the nerves (Sophie), and a hip flask to take the edge off (Alexander).
I enthusiastically picked Sophie and immediately set out trying to piece together what was happening. While I’ve only played chapter one of the two chapters so far, I enjoyed the game’s unpredictable and foreboding atmosphere. As I was exploring the Husher Mansion, I was constantly on edge, with the dimly-lit backgrounds and abundance of portraits, busts, and masks playing tricks on me as I exited one environment and entered another.
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As I progressed, the scares ranged from bog-standard haunted appliances like TVs that switch on spontaneously, to creepy ghost children, to potentially fatal encounters with the unknown Presence. While exploring, you’ll need to listen closely to your surroundings, hide in wardrobes, and block doorways, with a failure to do so potentially resulting in your character’s untimely death.
For example, a couple of hours after escaping the figure in the basement, I forgot to press my ear up against a door before opening it and was dragged kicking and screaming into an oily abyss for my carelessness. The game dropped me back to the character selection screen and gave me a choice between the remaining three characters. Taking control of Etienne, I then had to navigate back to the room where I had been grabbed, in order to pick up the items and continue the investigation.
Song of Horror scratches an itch for a very specific type of horror game that is often in short supply. From what I’ve played so far, it seems like a great choice for those looking for something new yet classic this Halloween. I’m genuinely interested to see what happens next — though I expect I’ll be revisiting the safety of the pause screen a few more times before it’s all over.