Those Who Remain is an intimate psychological horror where you are thrown into the sleepy town of Dormont. Here, you play as Edward as he struggles to stay in the light, both literally and metaphorically. This will be a largely spoiler-free review.
Those Who Remain Has You Playing As A Man Who Has Made Mistakes
All throughout the game, you’re given hints regarding what events have occurred in Edward, the protagonist’s, life. However, the first few moments arguably set up everything they need to.
You start the game as a man who is on his way to a motel to split up with his mistress. Yep, Edward is one of those. He’s clearly a bit torn about his decision-making in the past, and you get a sense that he feels guilty, so that’s not all bad. However, you still feel he might have what’s coming to him. As you progress, Edward has some strange out-of-Dormont experiences which bring to light his family. There’s a lot of past-tense talk surrounding his daughter, too..
I would put money on her being dead because of him, but there hasn’t been anything too specific for me just yet. I’m never sure what to expect with these games, though. They always have a few good twists, and Those Who Remain seems to be the same.
This doesn’t mean you’re fully alone, though. Throughout Those Who Remain, you meet some strange characters. As the title suggests, there’s more than just Edward out there. They may not be the sanest individuals, or any less terrifying, but… It’s something?
Those Who Remain Plays Exactly As You’d Expect
When you think about psychological horror games with a first-person perspective, you think of everything that Those Who Remain is. It has a simple control scheme as you’d expect, so you’re not caught up in any kind of difficulty playing.
Alongside this, there’s a “grab and throw” feature which allows you to throw pots and pans about. It’s something that you don’t see a lot in psychological horror titles, but adds an extra degree of immersion into the world. There are, of course, set things that you interact with like any other game. However, the fact that you can also search through shelving and move chairs helps to make it all a little bit more interactive. Not only this, but it also makes finding certain key objects harder, as there’s more things to look under. It’s simple but effective.
Lighting is vital in any horror, even more so in Those Who Remain…
The main gimmick to Those Who Remain is that you as a player must always stay in the light. You learn this information pretty early on thanks to a mysterious, creepy, voice on the phone.
Who was it? You don’t know.
Why are they calling you? Again, no clue.
Why do you need to stay in the light? Because if you don’t, you get murdered by creepy ghouls with glowing eyes.
With lighting being this important to the core gameplay of Those Who Remain, I was thankful and impressed by how well it was done. Every bare bulb glared a little bit, with reflections glistening in the moonlight. This was then juxtaposed with softer shadows and offered the whole aesthetic an ethereal haze. This perfectly matched the dimly lit environments and the need to be constantly in the light. It made figures in the shadows all the more terrifying.
On top of all this, it sounds spectacular!
The music of Those Who Remain is truly a compliment to it’s outstanding gameplay and design. It comes in two parts, in a way. Firstly, you get the ethereal dread from lower tones when you’re in the real world. It’s less obviously terrifying and ramps up when you get closer to darkness to perfectly cultivate fear.
Secondly, though, you get the deranged strings. This pops up when something spooky is going on and everything is floating and twisted. You enter something like a parallel state of being, where things are the same but different. Here, the music helps to disorientate you further through randomly placed notes of varying pitches. It all fits the aesthetic perfectly.
To further complete the title, I found the Voice Acting to be excellent in comparison to its peers. I recently got to play Someday You’ll Return. In my review, I noted how I found the narrative voice to be annoying and off-putting. Edward and Daniel are similar characters in somewhat similar situations, yet Edward is a whole lot more likable. I don’t know how, exactly, but I found myself more sympathetic towards him. Even though, with a mistress, he is technically a more morally wrong character and one we should like less. I know I shouldn’t really be making too many comparisons, but this was very much a good thing for me. I could compare him to something similar and find more things I enjoyed about it.
How Would I Summarize My Experience Playing? Frustratingly Good.
The environmental puzzles thrown at you by Those Who Remain really are tough. There’s usually a couple of things you need to do to progress, and it’s usually easy enough. However, there’s always that one item or interaction you need that can be easily overlooked. For example, there’s a fuse you need to fix a generator that’s hidden under a box. Items of interest glow, so finding them isn’t usually so hard. But there I was searching for one for a good five to ten minutes.
Still, I was satisfied when I found it and told myself that everyone playing has the same troubles. It is a dark game, as I’ve said before. Not to mention, I think I misjudged my brightness settings… so I don’t feel so bad about taking a little while to get through these puzzles.
Those Who Remain is truly a title worth playing. It is, perhaps, one of the best games of the genre I have played in a long time. I don’t usually get goosebumps while playing a horror game, but I had them throughout.
Those Who Remain is available on PC, Xbox One, PS4, and Switch May 28. This review was done on PC, via Steam. Like what you see? Don’t forget to share our work with the buttons below! Also, be sure to follow @GamezoGG on Twitter and check out our YouTube Channel for more great content from the Gamezo Team!