From an indie perspective, I don’t think it’s too crazy to say that we are very much living in a golden era of horror games. While the likes of Resident Evil 7: Biohazard and The Evil Within 2 are serving to maintain Triple-A level scares, it’s often on the periphery of these big tentpole releases that you’ll discover the more experimental spooks. Remothered: Broken Porcelain, both a sequel and a prequel to 2018’s Remothered: Tormented Fathers, is yet another great example of this.
My two-hour demo does a great job at setting the scene despite my lack of familiarity with the previous entry. I’m placed in the shoes of the innocent-looking Jennifer, a runaway who has recently been transferred to an estate for troubled girls called the Ashmann Inn. The environment immediately sets a gloomy scene: hallways are deeply shrouded in mist, toppled furniture litters the many wings, and decaying 1970s wallpaper is an all too frequent sight. A brief prologue sequence helps to establish Broken Porcelain’s brand of “cat-and-mouse” gameplay, then it’s into the story proper.
Following a meeting with the mysterious Mr. Ashmann himself and short tour of the Inn’s second floor by Andrea the housekeeper (who will shortly be chasing me), Jennifer and her friend Linn get into an emotionally charged argument. Before you know it, the lights go down and the ticking of a clock begins to boom over the speakers. It’s time to investigate!
Doing so requires me to quietly sneak around most of the building’s guest rooms and staff quarters, being careful not to alert the attention of Andrea who has now been taken over by some demonic force. In this way, Remothered: Broken Porcelain instantly hits you as a horror game where you won’t be taking the offensive – instead encouraging you to divert your stalker with a suite of distraction tools, hiding in closets and running away should you be spotted. Some horror fans might find this approach a little trite, but it works to always keep you on the back foot.
My first real objective while avoiding the grotesque Andrea is to make it to the Lounge Room (her base of operations) to make a call and check if Linn is okay. This involves finding the key to the telephone’s lock, which in turn kicks off a chain to put X into Y and then Y into Z and then so on. The bulk of Remothered: Broken Porcelain’s gameplay is one-part stealth and one-part investigation, only the latter feels needlessly time-consuming thanks to the lack of detective-style vision. Not having this definitely helps ground the game, sure, but there’s only so many empty drawers I can open or rooms to look in before it becomes a bit too much of a chore.
Still, Remothered: Broken Porcelain’s hide-and-seek approach works well for the most part, giving off shades of Alien: Isolation more so than a lot of other recent horror games. What could have easily descended into a repetitive series of never-ending instant-fail instances is thankfully avoided, as you’re always given the chance to break free from your stalker’s grasp with a defensive item when you’re caught, much like the breakable knives in Resident Evil 2 Remake. That’s where a lot of my irritation came from in Isolation despite it making sense for that universe. Remothered: Broken Porcelain might not tout the highest-budget sheen, but the tension never grinds to a halt.
In my short time with the demo, however, there were a few technical hitches that dampened the experience a little. There were a few times when getting spotted by Andrea she’d pin me into the corner of a room, which meant I couldn’t escape and so had to let her kill me so I could restart the checkpoint. Then, during one crucial sequence based in a laundry room, the game had educated me that lockers could be hidden in, but for some reason I could never get it to trigger. I had to find other means. Hopefully minor annoyances can be ironed out for the final release on October 20th, 2020.
Is Remothered: Broken Porcelain the next big reinvention for modern survival horror? Maybe not, but that doesn’t mean it still isn’t perfectly primed to scare you with its intriguing tale that takes place across time periods, tension-filled hide-and-seek loop and a genuinely unsettling dark atmosphere. Providing the story stays interesting and the gameplay advances a bit more, it has the potential to be a standout Halloween treat.
Remothered: Broken Porcelain officially releases on PC, PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch on October 20th