The horror-themed video game market has always been one of the most influential in the digital interactive entertainment industry, a genre that lives through works that over time have entered pop culture by force. A number of products that not only have kept their aura of mystery and fear, but have managed to convey their uniqueness and peculiarity. In this review we analyze one of the latest releases of this branch, that is MADISON, the first work of Bloodious Games.
A dark truth
The story tells of Luca, a boy who one unfortunate day wakes up mysteriously inside a closed room, and with both hands bloody. With no recollection of what happened in the last few hours and why his father is extremely upset, the protagonist decides it's time to escape from any tragic event fate seems to have in store for him. Unfortunately, he soon encounters dark truths about his grandparents' life and their home, visions, names and other elements that we prefer not to anticipate. The script offered by the development team is not complex and articulated, lacking any flicker of originality and using a narrative structure seen and reviewed in many other video games.
What really it works are the rhythm and the feeling of curiosity, in a game world that evolves with every passing minute. MADiSON manages without problems to keep the player's attention high - as we have seen during the gameplay for the review - through a good writing of the dialogues, which makes use of various references to Christian religion to create a certain degree of anguish and identification in the player, who learns a minimum of symbology and principles.
I congratulations definitely go to English voice actors, who manage to make the characters' emotions shine through without even seeing their faces. The written translation in the Spanish language is not even evil, and it faithfully follows the spoken word. The work of Bloodius Games manages to take the correct time to analyze the various misfortunes and phenomena that surround Luca, although sometimes he puts aside the purely playful experience for this specific reason.
Another technique that the developers have studied to capture the user are the environments. In this review we have noticed how the misadventure told in MADiSON does not have as its protagonist only the unfortunate human of the moment, but also the world that surrounds the whole story. The gloomy and dark atmosphere of any room, garden or cemetery conveys a greater sense of danger, also enriched by the good sound design of objects. In fact, the idea is to make the noises of objects heard or move them randomly to create a continuous sensation of danger, as if someone continuously observes every action we perform.
At the same time, however, the game fails to deliver the degree of fear that developers are looking for. This is due to the fact that the danger is not really present, at least in most of them about four hours that are used to complete the journey. Furthermore, MADiSON makes the fatal mistake of primarily basing its fright effect in the technique of jump scare. Certainly an effective and easy-to-use method, but an intelligent horror would have used additional elements to continually destabilize the experience. A real shame, because more study of what makes the genre appealing would certainly have benefited the whole experience.
The appeal of a video game derives a lot from his gameplay, and the first creation of Bloodius Games tries too much to follow the patterns of the genre. The game structure looks almost like a point and click in first person, where the user has to look for key objects and clues to be able to continue on his journey. The player's movement is cumbersome and slow, so much so that he almost wants to offer a feeling of imbalance in specific situations. A deliberate choice that we generally appreciate, given that it conveys a certain feeling of inferiority even with the surrounding world alone.
The lack of direct weapons demonstrates the developers' intention to put the action aside. The title seeks its appeal inscouting, solving environmental puzzles and his story. An idea that is basically able to create a good play structure but which, unfortunately, during the playthrough for the MADiSON review, did not fully convince us. The puzzles environmental are of good quality and require the player to think about the clues the developers have left in each corner.
The challenge level gradually increases over the course of the game, but they never become too complex to seriously challenge the user's mind. Indeed resolution is often at hand, so much so as to be suggested almost directly by Luca or by clues. We would not have regretted a greater difficulty, given the good ideas and variety present in this section of the game.
In the course of the game Luca must to collect a certain series of objects, with the aim of using them at the right time. However, the player must be careful, as he has a limited number of pockets from transport. Fortunately, a deposit is soon unlocked where you can collect the material placed in different environments. This creates a small forced backtracking effect, but it doesn't spoil the overall experience. Surely it would have been more convenient to carry an unlimited number of objects, so as to cancel certain mechanisms, which only serve to make the experience a little longer.
La main mechanics of the gameplay is related to camera. Luca uses this tool in many situations, and it is often the real answer to any question. The user must use it for solve environmental puzzles, collect i collectable, blind your enemies or simply light up Street. It works a lot at first, but as it progresses it becomes all too obvious when it needs to be used to resolve and advance.
A little advice, given that the flash of the camera is the best friend of the player, it is preferable not to play the product if accused of visual disturbances of some kind. It is no coincidence that, in the pause menu, the same developers recommend that you stop for a moment if you feel any kind of headache or signs of fatigue. The reason is due to the massive use of intermittent lights and the massive flash.
A continuous deja vù
During the review phase we noticed how MADiSON, in its PlayStation 4 version, does not fully satisfy the viewer's eye. On the purely technical side, the game environment is acceptable and well constructed, intelligently combining elements of live reproductions such as videos and photographs. Unfortunately, the identification is lost through low resolution textures and, in general, a art style that has nothing really original. The situation improves substantially on modern-generation consoles.
In general, the whole big problem with the game is the constant feeling of deja vu. Inspired by many famous horror films of the last ten years, the guys of Bloodius Games have not been able to give a strong personality to their first, for elements of gameplay, narrative or atmosphere. MADiSON fails to give space to his voice despite some good ideas. A greater presence of the monster on duty, complete with a high-level AI, might have been the trick to give that extra bit that is needed to the whole experience. However, we appreciate the total absence of a soundtrack, which makes us focus more attention on noise and overall sound design.
A little tip, in the PS4 version is preferable download every available update before starting their game, as they fix some serious bugs that made it impossible to play.Review
- MADiSON (Tested on PS4) 6.5 Final grade
MADiSON is a horror game that doesn't do anything wrong, but it's nothing great either. Its short duration allows you to live a pleasant but at the same time not original experience, with a little layered gameplay, not very scary and with all too intuitive environmental puzzles. A product that certainly pleases novices of the genre or for those who have a continuous hunger for horror stories, but which cannot really impress itself in a fierce market like the videogame one.