Review: The Conjuring House
Independent game studio Rym Games has worked wonders with a deeply immersive and fresh take on the haunted house exploration game genre.
Release date: 25 September 2018
Publisher: RYM Games
Independent game studio Rym Games have worked wonders with a deeply immersive and fresh take on the haunted house exploration game genre.
This horror game takes place in an abandoned Victorian-style house in the village of Wotten-under-Edge which, believe it or not, is also a real place! You play as the only remaining investigator of the Atkinson House, a building long-rumored to have a demonic presence brought on by a satanic cult’s propensity to use it as a base to sacrifice multitudes of people. You are tasked with finding your fellow crew members while escaping from demonic creatures, which provides plenty of well-timed jump scares.
This is no mindless gore-fest game without a plot. The opening credits hint at the dark and satanic past of the derelict mansion, and you must complete the work started by the previous investigators and attempt to destroy the demonic presence infesting the house. The gameplay never wavers from the plot and, in discovering clues and the notes left by the initial investigators, you are constantly aware of what’s happened to the other people who entered the mansion.
The opening credits are somewhat spoiled by unconvincing voice acting, which slightly broke my attempts to become immersed in the mood and feel of the game.
The game’s setting, a creaky and tight-cornered mansion in the grip of loud thunderclaps, offers nary a moment of downtime. Between peeking around corners, looking for clues and trying not to jump when a thunderclap sounds, the game succeeds in getting you into a mental state of fear and uncertainty. I’ve never been scared by a game’s controls before, but I was greatly unnerved to find that there is a button for “look behind you”. It’s safe to say I avoided that button like the plague in an attempt to steer clear of at least a few jump scares!
Progression requires the player to go through various rooms finding keys and notes left by the previous, terrified investigation team. In the early stages I was somewhat distracted from the sounds, fear and general ambiance of the game by the worry that I had overlooked a key and might have to go back at a later stage.
The possible ways of exploring are not limited by a linear progression that demands for you to retrace all steps to make it back to the first room. Each of the rooms interconnect in some form or fashion, which can at times be confusing, but mostly gives the player a sense of fear and uncertainty.
During your search you can open and close drawers. One drawer I opened had a red object in it that I couldn’t pick up, which left me wondering if that was intentional or whether I would move on without a vital tool at my disposal.
Rym Games’ creative vision has been to create a horror game with more than just “monsters, a cinematic shot and a dose of violence”. The jump scares are not so frequent that you get used to them and not so rare that you become bored – they are frequent enough and varied that I was on edge constantly, peeking slowly around each corner and door frame. One aspect of the gameplay that I enjoyed greatly was that the scares don’t always come from sudden appearances of the demonic creatures or loud noises in your headset. In certain spots you can dimly see a creature at the end of a hallway and, with a feeling of dread, realize that you must go down that corridor. This kind of psychological horror element complimented the more traditional jump scares nicely.
The Conjuring House should easily attract horror fans who enjoy a plot-driven horror game that delivers magnificently on monsters, jump scares, intriguing progression and that constant feeling like you’re being watched. That this game comes from an independent studio is even more impressive and the future looks bright for whatever RYM Games turns their attention to next.