We all want to play well made horror games. Especially ones with an engaging story and sequences that make us worry for the main character’s life. Yet sometimes games can fall short. One such game this year at EGX Rezzed 2019 was Close to the Sun.
Would you kindly?
Close to the Sun is a Bioshock-esque adventure game where you play as Rose, a journalist who has been invited to join a scientist spaceship cruise. Something is spreading through the ship and it is your job to find out what it is and put a stop to it. Of course, you can take your time though. Rose certainly thinks she can, as she walks slower than a snail mounted on a tortoise. She does come with the option to run, but unless you are being actively pursued it’s closer to a slow-motion canter. Turning wasn’t much better as both walking direction and camera felt fairly stiff to move, like moving a freight train with just your pinky finger.
Puzzle of life
This works to the detriment of the puzzles as well. While the puzzles themselves have nothing inherently wrong with them, some of them require a bit of accuracy and end up being a pain. Puzzles seem to be fairly basic in terms of difficulty. Find paper with code, find the safe the code is for, use code on safe. But when you’re having to wrestle with a controller to press the middle button for five minutes, it seems more like an impediment than a puzzle.
Horror of nothing
Moving on to the horror aspect, Close to the Sun does present a reasonably chilling atmosphere. Glowing silhouettes of past events among the dilapidated ship create the perfect way to provide a sense of mystery as well as a sense of unease. When it comes to actual enemies, however, it falls a bit short again. At a certain point in the demo levels, there was supposed to be a jumpscare. However, the guy spoke so quietly I was less scared by his presence and more unimpressed by his presence. My initial concern was that her running speed would still be slow when pursued. Fortunately, when in a chase, Rose is pretty quick. Allowing me to lose the sucker faster than I had expected. The chase had ended up with me getting lost in a confusing catacomb of boxes at which point I had decided I’d had enough.
Close to the Sun isn’t a bad game. Creepy atmosphere and interesting story are just a couple of the things that it really excels in creating. Yet, some improvements need to be made. Quite frankly if I’m stuck on a space ship, I don’t want to feel like I’m dragging a ball and chain around with me or go for a lovely Sunday morning jog when I’m supposed to be running. Not having to fight the controller to turn and perhaps a more engaging chase sequence could help draw me in more. But for now, I’ll just sit back and wait to see if these improvements are made.