Alone

by Paul Michael Winters profile

Apocalyptic Horror
2020

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Number of Reviews: 9
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
Classic parser based horror, October 5, 2020
by deathbytroggles (Minneapolis, MN)

In 2019 Winters released The House on Sycamore Lane, which screamed potential but was riddled with spelling, grammar, and guess the verb issues. With his sophomore effort, Alone, he has improved considerably and put forth a solid parser game that is a worthy entry in the apocalyptic horror genre.

Alone quickly establishes that you are a survivor, working solo and avoiding infected people at all costs. But a visit to a convenience store to get some gas changes all that. The gas pump is locked, and what follows is a long string of puzzles to get access to additional areas that hopefully have something you can get your hands on to cut the dang lock off. While partaking in the puzzlefest, you slowly learn what's happened in this neck of the woods Babel-style, reading journal entries and stumbling across horrific scenes.

I did not need to resort to a walkthrough at any point as the puzzles are generally straightforward. There are no red herrings, and all items you can pick up or manipulate have fairly clear uses. That's not to say the puzzles were insulting; they just didn't take leaps of logic or require a stroke of brilliance to uncover, which was definitely refreshing.

Another thing that Winters improved upon with this game was that he never tells the player how they should feel. He just lets the setting tell itself. Even the alternate ending (the less favorable one) is not given judgment by the author.

The reason I didn't rate this game higher is that the atmosphere didn't grab me as much as I would have liked. Room descriptions are sparse. Rarely do we get any details other than the objects we need to manipulate. Smells and sounds are not described very often. And with one pretty great exception (Spoiler - click to show)(the timed sequence with injecting Adrian), there's never a sense of dread or urgency, which there should be fairly regularly in a horror game.

I very much look forward to Winters' next effort.