Today we’re taking a look at the full release of Lamentum, a game that I’ve been looking forward to since October 2020! The game’s gonna come out later this month but I was provided with a review key by the publisher and was able to take a look at it already with the review embargoed for today. As expected it still does the things really well that I enjoyed so much in the demo and I’m excited to write about it some more now!
Developer: Obscure Tales Publisher: Neon Doctrine Genre: Survival, Horror, Exploration, 2D, Indie, Lovecraftian Release Date: August 31st, 2021 Reviewed on: PC Available on: PC, Switch, PS4, Xbox One Copy was provided by the publisher.
In this survival horror game set in the mid-19th century New England, you guide Victor Hartwell, a young aristocrat, on a desperate journey to cure the deadly disease that afflicts his beloved wife, Alissa. Since all the conventional methods didn’t work, Victor seeks the help of Earl Grau Hill who’s uncovered ancient secrets and forgotten sciences and who claims to be able to heal Alissa. You spend the night there at Grau Hill mansion but the doors you opened, end up immersing you in a world of nightmares where you may be trapped forever.
To solve the dark secrets at the heart of Grau Hill Mansion, you need to explore the mansion, fight off monsters or sneak past them, and find the solution to a lot of different puzzles. Inspired by Resident Evil and Silent Hill, you can only save using ink in certain spaces. You’ll need to manage your resources, combine items, and use those at specific spots or struggle your way through. This adds a strategic layer to the game where you may consider saving up healing items and ink and risk losing progress… or you just wing it and end up regretting saving earlier. It’s tough and can be punishing but in the end, those “aha!” moments you get are satisfying and rewarding.
What I like a lot about the game is the way that the Lovecraftian influences unfold in the game. At first, you find yourself in these dark halls of Grau Hill Mansion but as time goes on, you see more and more horrors, taxing your mental and physical stamina, revealing more and more terrifying horrors. The ideas and principles of Lovecraft’s cosmic horror stories often deal with this fear of the unknown and the things that humankind can’t even fathom or isn’t supposed to know. That’s something that a lot of games try to implement but they fail to do so by just implementing the Eldritch creatures without any of the creepy stuff that makes the Lovecraftian Horror Stories so great. Lamentum on the other hand does that well. You don’t know what happens. You’re not sure what you remember or what you’ve seen. At one point you even see your corpse and time doesn’t seem to have passed all that much but suddenly, you wake up, injured, in a place that looks familiar but it isn’t quite the same.
Despite the pixel art style, the imagery and art reflect that sense of “madness” and “darkness” well. The paintings and statues change from their peaceful yet awkward nature to this disturbing and distressing nature. Monsters roam the mansion, strange cobwebs cover the hallways, and blood, rotten food and other stuff can be found in some rooms. It’s distressing and I love it. The sound design also adds to that distressing atmosphere with some rather classical music as well as a lot of silence. I feel like silence in particular is a powerful tool that can immerse you even more into a game, movie or show. It can make normal scenarios incredibly scary and distressing and when you hear the slightest sounds you may. The soundtrack otherwise (when it plays sounds) is nice and comforting at times and distressing and ominous at other times. A perfect fit!
The core gameplay loop consists of the puzzles but with limited inventory space and storage-sharing chests, you’ll need to figure out what items may be useful moving forward and what items you won’t need anytime soon. You may fight monsters or you simply kite or sneak past them. It’s a bit tricky at times and you may take a hit or two to get to items but in the end, it’s all a matter of how you want to play the game. I found a knife at one point, for instance, and while it didn’t deal much damage, it was actually quite reliable in terms of attack speed and the time that you need until you can move again. What I didn’t like too much was that the aiming with the gun you find early on feels a bit rough. The game is in this isometric-ish style that works for it overall but I found it hard to align attacks with enemies. Also, the resource management aspect of the game could maybe get regulated a little bit. I mean, Survival Horror and all of that is fine but I personally am a scaredy-cat that is not good at games and I would love to enjoy the story more without having to run out of ink, ammo, or heal items. I’d love an “Easy Mode” where you could save without the ink (hence saving an inventory spot and making the game a bit easier) or where you have more inventory space. Similarly, the game could also do well with a Hardcore Mode with Permadeath or fewer resources. Accessibility is important and hence, I feel like making the game a bit easier would be nice alongside the option to remap keys.
But Lamentum is great experience-wise and I don’t think that these issues are too much of an issue. The story is nice, I like the pacing a lot, the soundtrack is great, the bosses and puzzles are interesting, and the atmosphere really gives me the chills. The spooky season is coming up as well soon, so I’d imagine that a lot of people would love to play this title then! I for one can highly recommend it to anyone interested in Survival-Horror Games to play in the spooky season.
This post is part of the Blaugust 2021 event. For more information on that, check out this post!