One I missed that released late last year, Heliophobia is a first-person horror mystery set in an incredibly surreal world. I did give it a quick note about it coming in a previous article, however the developer ended up sending over a key to our Steam Curator so I took a look.
It's a pretty odd game, one that involves you warping between memories as you find pictures in some sort of hub world. Each of these memories presents some puzzles and challenges to overcome and they may have freaky monsters to avoid too. I will admit I did find some parts of it really quite creepy!
The problem I had with it, is that I found myself quite disconnected from it due to the way you jump into these memories. Since it's non-linear, you don't have to go through them in any specific order but due to this it makes it a bit confusing. Even so, the whole experience was a little unnerving and it was quite well done for a small budget horror mystery, it certainly kept my interest as I found and read more notes to try and piece together what was going on.
- Surreal Horror - Monsters and nefarious humans are not the only things to fear. The entire world feels just a few degrees off from "normal".
- Non-Linear Mystery - Segments of the story branch off and unlock in non-chronological order. Any completed section can be returned to for further investigation.
- Glitch Senses - Heavy glitch effects serve as both visual flair and a "sixth sense" for nearby dangers. Use them to your advantage, or disable the effects entirely.
- Survive On Your Terms - Despite the claustrophobic setting, many levels feature multiple routes or varied solutions to puzzles.
- No Cheap Jump Scares - Building atmosphere and dread are central to the overall experience. While some moments may be surprising, none are played just for an empty reaction.
- Outside The Comfort Zone - Each challenge is presented with a new setting, format, or set of rules. No two sections should feel exactly the same, leading to a feeling of gnawing unease.
Performance on highest settings wasn't great even on my decently powerful gaming rig, I did have to turn down multiple settings to make it smooth. The glitch effect it uses to show danger, even when on half is also really far too strong, I ended up just turning that off.
While it's nowhere near the level of quality seen from the likes of Frictional Games or Bloober Team, it's still a reasonably good (and quite unique) experience.