- Spoiler: show
Recently I decided that it was a good time to try to get through some of my backlog of games I had picked up over the years in free giveaways or bundles and such, but had never touched. So this is the first one I picked. I had heard a lot of really good things about this game and some of the subject matter it deals with, but I pretty much never play horror games, and have been very turned off games of that ilk that put you up against an overbearing threat that can kill you easily. I find they quickly lose their sense of fear and just become highly aggravating as you end up repeatedly throwing yourself in to the meat grinder over and over trying to work out what to do to progress. So because of that I decided to opt for the Safe Mode in this, so I didn't have to worry about dying. I was a bit apprehensive about not playing the game in the "intended" way though, as I've previously talked about, I want to experience the vision a developer the way they wanted to portray it. But here I don't think that would have turned out well for me, and I think most of what they were going for is still actually intact in this mode.
It was a really engrossing and immersive experience, that did a fantastic job of creating a rich atmosphere of dread and horror, while also bringing up some very interesting questions about humanity, personhood, and what is exactly counts as "human". It weaves them together well in a way that adds an existential edge to the horror, while it also having that straightforward terrifying presentation too. The threat of the out of control AI was really compelling as well. It took something that is a pretty academic and theoretical fear, and turned it in to something really visceral and monstrous. And speaking of monsters, the game actually managed to still make them feel very scary and dangerous even in this Safe Mode. They still felt like they posed a real threat to you, and makes you want to avoid them and stay out of their sight. They can still inspire fear and panic, without impeding progress, or repeated deaths resulting in a metaphorical pulling back of the curtains turning them in to a frustrating mechanic that you have to try to cheese to overcome. I also thought the ending of the game was really well done. A great gut-punch that really hammers home the themes the game is going for.