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Song Of Horror

Posted by GG Goblin On November - 5 - 2019

Being scared in an episodic format.

Protocol Games’ Song of Horror, a new episodic horror adventure game, has been a long time in development. While this may have left horror fans having to wait far too long for this new horror experience, it does mean that the developers have had time to come up with some really great ideas that will raise the tension beyond that which is usually expected in horror games. Halloween this year saw the first two episodes of Song of Horror launch on Steam, with the remaining three episodes set to launch on Steam in the coming months. Halloween may now have come and gone, but a good horror game is welcome any time of the year. Let’s go and meet The Presence.


Song of Horror begins with a nice little prelude that sets up the player with the basics of the game. Playing as Daniel, who works for a publishing company, you are sent to the mansion of star author Sebastian Husher. Husher and his entire family have gone missing, and the same quickly happens to Daniel as the prelude wraps up. From here, things get really interesting.

The player will have a four new characters to choose from, each of them linked in one way or another to Husher or Daniel. These characters are quite unique and come with their own set of stats, their own opinions and views on what is happening, and even their own equipment. There is not a huge amount by way of character building and so players may fail to care for any of these characters, but that is probably for the best as it is very unlikely that they will all survive to the end of the episode.

This is the big fly in the ointment as each of these characters represents a players life. Song of Horror features permadeath and this death can come quite quickly and easily. When it inevitably happens, the player will simply pick another of the characters and continue on their way, maybe picking up the dropped items of the demised character along the way. However, if all four characters die, then it is back to the start of the game for the player.

This is a great way of building tension in the game, making life far more precious than when it just means returning to a checkpoint. Many of the dangers in the game are fairly obvious and only take common sense to avoid. The player is able to listen at closed doors for example, revealing any possible hazards that may be waiting on the other side. Don’t open a door when there is a scary sound on the other side. However, the game also has random threats that can come at any time and see the player going through a small QTE in order to hold the door shut against something not very pleasant, or forcing the player to control their breathing with button presses as they hide under a table or whatever from the demonic entity. While some instances of death can be frustrating in that they could not be avoided, such as touching a random object, especially if it happens to be their last character and they are then beamed back to the beginning of the game, it really does keep the player on their toes.


The good news is that subsequent playthroughs do become that bit easier as the player will already know the locations and even solutions to the various puzzles. Of the puzzles, they seem to lean on the slightly more difficult side, but that could be because trying to solve puzzles while constantly waiting for the next threat is somewhat stressful. Anyway, many of the puzzles will involve finding the right items, and can lead to some hefty backtracking. Items can be picked up and turned around to examine for clues, making the game feel that bit more interactive than many similar games. There is not much by way of leniency to the puzzles, forcing the player to find the one right solution rather than giving them a variety of ways to solve them.

Episode one takes place in the Mansion and is slow to reveal its horror. For the most part, it involves creepiness through little things that the player will see and hear. It is recommended to play the game with a controller and headphones, and while the game functions fine with keyboard and speakers, I can understand that the headphones will go a long way to increasing the tension, and making the few jump scares even more scary. The sound work in Song of Horror is really very nicely done and a real highlight. Controlling the character is also more intuitive with a controller, partially due to the fixed camera angles that are reminiscent of the early Resident Evil games.

The second episode continues the story but rather bravely takes the action from the mansion to an antique shop as four new characters start investigating the mysterious music box that is at the centre of this tale. With the episodes running between three and five hours, depending on the player, Song of Horror episodes one and two don’t outstay their welcome and can easily be finished in one sitting each. The best thing is that they will leave the player wanting more, and with more to come soon as episode three is due in December and four and five early next year. A season pass is available for anyone who wants to prepare for all of the upcoming episodes.

Song of Horror does a great job of creating a tense atmosphere and, for the most part, plays really well. There are, however, a few missteps along the way. Some players will find the seemingly random and unavoidable death of a character difficult to reconcile, and things like the steady breathing mechanic outstay their welcome. The camera can also be a little awkward, but the reality is there is very little to complain about here.


In so far as Song of Horror is a scary game, that would depend on the player. There is a fear of the unknown thanks to the random events, and the game can be very atmospheric. The developers have done an excellent job with the sound, and the visuals are pretty good as well. With three episodes still to come, Song of Horror is shaping up to be a quality horror game that offers some new ideas while still being familiar. Definitely one for the horror game fans.




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