Review: REVEIL


Posted on March 5, 2024 by Henry

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6/10

Summary

If you’re craving a circus-themed horror-lite game that doesn’t break the bank, then Reveil might be your cup of tea. You can snag it for a discounted price of $17.99 right now until March 13. Reveil is an experience that doesn’t leave a very strong impression, but that doesn’t make it not worth your time. Just tailor your expectations right to the lack of originality and technical shortcomings this game suffers from.

Developer – Pixelsplit

Publisher – Daedalic Entertainment

Platforms – PC (reviewed), Xbox Series S|X, PlayStation 5

Review copy given by publisher

It’s difficult for indie games to stand out nowadays, especially in the psychological thriller and horror domain. This is because most if not all of them revolve around some combination of abstract environmental storytelling and puzzle solving mixed with tedious walking simulator elements. Developer Pixelsplit’s newest project Reveil is another first person horror game that unfortunately doesn’t break the mold of that stereotype. It’s not a bad game per se, but it’s also nothing to write home about either as it’s pretty similar to all the other P.T. clones out there.

You play as any other generic white man named Walter Thompson, who seems to be suffering from either a dream or a series of hallucinations as he searches for his missing wife and daughter. The game takes place in a warped reality that resembles a circus that ties in heavily with the narrative. You and your wife both work at the circus and your daughter used to love it. Like any other horror game, the story is intentionally vague and ambiguous, and leaves it up to you to put the pieces together through investigating various items and notes. The majority of the time you’ll just listen to Walter call out for his daughter Dorie a million times, unphased by the disturbing events unfolding around him. It doesn’t help that the ending was a disappointment too. Reveil is split across 5 chapters and can be completed in just a few hours, depending on how much exploration you do.

Gameplay is simply walking around, interacting with items, solving simple puzzles, and playing mini-games. Some of the puzzles are quite refreshing, as they require you to tilt the object a certain way in order to solve it, and strike the perfect balance between being too easy and too frustrating. These riddles also require you to observe the environment in detail and use the controls in creative ways. The mouse controls can be a little bit finicky but I got used to it. As a psychological horror game, Reveil isn’t very scary. Typical jump scares and dark unsettling environments are to be expected, but that’s about it. There are undoubtedly some unnerving moments, since the game absolutely nails the circus theme well, with a maze of mirrors, creepy clowns, roller coasters, and fun houses. Hidden collectibles are also scattered throughout for you to find, adding a bit more to your playtime.

What I can’t fathom is the bonkers logic used in horror games. You start off the game locked inside your own bedroom. How does this make any sense? What kind of room is locked from the inside? I really wish developers took a bit more time thinking about applying more realistic logic in their games. This makes the game not grounded at all. Not long after you escape your own bedroom, you find the key to another room, just to get locked in it again after you unlock it! It also doesn’t help that the protagonist’s body isn’t rendered whatsoever. There are no reflections on a mirror and when you look down you can’t see your feet and when you interact with objects you can’t see your hands. Guess you are an invisible man!

The visuals and artistic design in Reveil deserve recognition. For an indie game, the environments are surprisingly well crafted and feature great attention to detail. It’s also not common for the soundtrack of a horror title to stand out, but the music in this game is phenomenal. Three songs are released on streaming platforms right now: Rewrite, Reborn, and We Will Go, all sung by talented artist Arina Tara. Do yourself a favor and go listen to them now because the songs are phenomenal and fit the theme of the game well.

From a technical performance standpoint, Reveil is a mixed bag. On one hand, the load times are extremely fast, taking a mere 3 seconds to load in. But on the other hand, the game struggles to maintain a smooth 60 frames per second on my PC with an RTX 3080 and 32GB of ram with DLSS turned to performance. There are frequent stutters and dips down to 30 and 40 frames, which breaks the immersion of the game significantly. Keep in mind the recommended specs for this game is a 1060 GPU…

I can appreciate the accessibility settings for the game though. There are tons of languages to choose from for text, but only English for voice acting. Controls can be rebound for both keyboard as well as controller on PC, which is a plus. You can also toggle crouch and adjust field of view, but the most beneficial of all is the help indicator, which highlights objects of interest for you in the game, so you don’t have to go around clicking everything to see if it is interactable. I wish more games would do this nowadays!

If you’re craving a circus-themed horror-lite game that doesn’t break the bank, then Reveil might be your cup of tea. You can snag it for a discounted price of $17.99 right now until March 13. Reveil is an experience that doesn’t leave a very strong impression, but that doesn’t make it not worth your time. Just tailor your expectations right to the lack of originality and technical shortcomings this game suffers from.

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