Claire is alone, lost, and hunted. The world has quickly becomes shrouded in darkness with unseen threats stalking Claire from the shadows. Aided by her dog and armed only with a flashlight, Claire must conquer her fear and find her comatose mother. However, there are others lost in the darkness seeking salvation. Claire must decide who she is going to save. With every choice she'll begin to discover who she really is and whether she deserves to be saved herself.
Play as Claire and explore multiple levels accompanied by your dog, Anubis.
Use a lighter or a mouse-controlled flashlight to explore an increasingly dark world.
Contend with the panic system, a system that increases the scariness of the environment as fear tightens its grip on Claire.
Fight back Claire’s fear and stay alert with items scavenged from the dark corners of the world.
Find others lost in the darkness, help them and decide to save them or leave them be.
Multiple endings determined by plot choices and interactions with the others.
Multiple difficulty settings, including “Nightmare” where Claire can literally be scared to death.
New Game + allows you to keep your items and ramp up the difficulty.
Claire is a 2D low-fi horror game that relies heavily on scenery and atmosphere, and not jumpscares or horrifying imagery. Unfortunately, due to its nature, Lone Survivor comparisons are inevitable, and I think this game has less of an impact because of that exact reason. (I have seen people stating that the horror from both of these games borrows a lot from Silent Hill, but I have yet to play those) I enjoyed this game quite a lot, but it certainly isn't flawless, design-wise. I'll discuss important points later, and just give you a general overview of how the game works. I'll try to give a short overview of the game. Regarding other 2D, low-pixel horror games, Lone Survivor and Home spring to my mind. This is far closer to LS than Home, but with fewer interesting mechanics, and certainly has a more streamlined story (leaving a few unanswered questions regardless). You play as Claire, and you don't know exactly where you are, despite the familiarity of the places you visit. There's always something wrong. Your job is to piece all the memories revealed to you with the symbolism present in order to find why you're there and more important, if you deserve to leave. The narrative is well put together, it was pretty interesting to me! Visual and Audio Design As I said, it's very low-fi, but in a good way! Just like the previous games mentioned, the game gives you an outline for how the sceneries look, and let your mind take care of the little details. Overall, I think it looks really good. Besides, it also features modern lighting effects that give this game an edge over many retro looking games. The sound-effects are also very raw and disturbing, and it's where I find the biggest similarities with LS. There's a lot of static noise, rather than the usual screaming. However, while LS did come as a surprise to me, this didn't felt quite as unique (although, I'm not trying to take credit away from this game, only talking about my subjective perception). Both the visual and the audio design fits together very nicely, and creates the kind of disturbing and uncomfortable horror that I like. Overall mechanics Your character has both Health and Fear, both of which can be replenished with different consumables. As excepted, enemies and disturbing places will make you more fearful, and may even decrease your health if you're on the verge of sanity. When enemies attack you, you also lose health. Scavenging for consumables is important, especially because you can not kill enemies, only run away from them. Literally. Stealth is almost inexistent, but I'll detail it later on.(1) You have a lighter (that lights a small radius around you), and you later get a Flashlight, that consumes batteries, but it's more potent, and can also illuminate where you point with the mouse. This is a pretty cool feature, but it also carries some minor problems.(2) Enemies can follow you through rooms by destroying doors (the first times takes a while, but after that, they're pretty fast to change rooms). When you're spotted, your best bet is to run away, and try to loose them. You can do it by changing to a room twice without them seeing you, or hide in closets while they're breaking down the door. While it works, for the most part, not being able to attack them can be frustrating, especially when you're at low HP. This leaves less room to explore as well. Around the places, you can find Notes (written by someone close to you) that may hint at why you're there and what it is. You may also find some people, that may even be more lost that you do. Each of them brings a different perspective on life, based on their own situation. I found these to be pretty nice, and they also added some interesting bits to the game's "message" and narrative. Other than that, there are also some puzzles. This are half great, half poor. Some of them simply depend on environmental clues and are fairly easy, if you pay attention. These rely on clues around that particular puzzle, and not ones that you may or may not have found 3 hours before. This makes for good pacing! Others, are more reliant on riddles. While they were cool, they were also a bit too ambiguous. After I knew the solution, I could see it made sense, but there were also other equally valid possibilities... That was not so good. I liked the idea, but I don't think the execution was quite there. Regardless, these puzzles are far apart, and there are not a lot. They're there to change pacing, and they do just that pretty well. I'll try to go into some details now. 1. Saving and Map Systems I've found some problems with these. There are safe rooms spread around the maps, where you can save. There's no other kind of checkpoints, it's all manual and only in certain rooms. This could be fine, but I didn't like it very much. As I've mentioned, the maps are very maze-like in their construction. There are lots of locked doors, doors that only open from one side, crawlspaces, etc. While the "blocked" doors are marked on the map after you try to open them, it's still very messy. Each map is a bit too cluttered, which is a problem when you're trying to explore everything. I know that being lost can be a pretty crucial part to horror, but it's hard to couple that with exploration. All the notes, people, butterflies, etc. that you collect do affect the ending, despite being optional. The endings are determined by your overall attention to detail. But I digress. Add to this, the fact that you can't kill nor avoid enemies. And Sprinting has a cooldown (as expected). If you find an unexpected enemy, you'll simply run, and try to enter the closest door. This is a recepy to get lost in 5 seconds. The map marks visitted rooms, which is good, and you can get back to where you were, but now knowing that there's an enemy waiting for you. Later on, it's also easy to run from one enemy and bump into another, and end up 7 rooms away from where you wanted to be, with a few more collectables and low HP. After this, it's very easy to die, especially if an enemy happens to be at a door where you enter a room. It's a bit convoluted, sorry, but this is how I felt. It got messy. And the biggest problem was to get the progress gone when you died. The safe rooms aren't too far between, but were enough for it to be frustrating when going for the collectibles, for which you need to explore every corner. This is also tied to the fact that enemies can't be beaten, and rarely avoided without taking damage. Later on, the maps get more confusing (intentionally so, which was part awesome, part annoying), so this problem aggravates itself. I think it's just a problem tied to making the game focus on Exploration and Tension at the same time, two almost paradoxical concepts. 2. Mouse controlled Flashlight This is very minor, but worth noting nonetheless. The flashlight is the only thing you need the mouse to control in this game. Literally the only thing. When you're walking with the lighter only, the result is a mouse pointer on the screen. Oops, there goes immersion. I think that it is a cool mechanic, but it would have been much better if the game featured other mouse-driven mechanics, even if they were very minor. 3. Invincible Enemies I'll tackle this again quickly. Enemies are far scarier if you feel defenseless, certainly! However, the player should never be this defenseless, just for the fact that it hinders the gameplay, at times where the tension is low. I think that LS avoided this problem very elegantly. You were hopeless if an enemy surprised you, you were hopeless and had to run. Otherwise, you could attract them with meat, and then stealthily avoid them. Even if not unique, Claire is well put together, and features good psych-horror!
If you loved Lone Survivor, then you will love Claire too. The game is very scary, and it has multiple difficulty setting (while Nightmare is very hard, try it only when you have ebated the game once). The panic system, even if it's not new at all, provides additional scares, manteining the tension on high levels. Around six hours long, it's worth every cent the developers ask.
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