Survival horror games have not been high on my list except perhaps the Resident Evil remakes. As I grew older, I find that my ability to play through horror games have severely diminished. I am a lot more jumpy, the creepy atmosphere can get into me faster than my character can run, and I’m not that good at the cat and mouse game that modern horror games have mostly become.
And so it is with great trepidation that I booted up Remothered: Broken Porcelain. A survival horror game where you play as a hapless protagonist in an appropriately moody environment. Serving both a prequel and a sequel to 2018’s Remothered: Tormented Fathers, you play as Jennifer, a rebellious orphan working at the Ashman Inn whose staff goes mad everytime a sound is played on the inn’s speakers.
Because I haven’t played the first game, the nearest gameplay comparison that my mind can make is Silent Hill. A broken Silent Hill, that is. Or maybe a third-person Clocktower II but twice the input lag. It’s not that Remothered: Broken Porcelain doesn’t have acceptable mechanics, it’s that it does acceptable mechanics badly. Imagine a hide-and-seek game where you have to run and hide from enemies that run faster than you, and contextual actions either don’t appear or do not recognize your button inputs until it was already too late.
Since Jennifer can only effectively fight enemies by attacking them from behind (and because the enemy AI has preternatural senses), you will have to run and hide a lot in this game. And boy, running and hiding is so hard when the game takes its sweet time to acknowledge that you’re in fact, outside of a locker or closet. When it finally does prompt the button you need to press to enter, the enemy has already caught up to you. It is frustrating, it kills the mood so many times. I get it, Jennifer isn’t supposed to be face enemies straight on, but the cumbersome controls and the weird spatial recognition makes the suspense parts unnecessarily difficult, not because they’re actually challenging.
The graphics are also inconsistent. While the setting gives off the right vibes, the character animations feel like the game is developed for the PS3. Except for the facial animations which felt like it belonged to the PS2 era. I take it, this is not a big-budget game that can employ some proper expression captures, but it felt so jarring that it’s hard to overlook. Also, the movement animations makes the already significant input lag much more of a problem than it should. A good survival/horror/suspense game of today must have responsive and refined controls and animations because the character’s life depends on it.
The voice-acting is also a bit sub-par, with only Jennifer and Lindsay have OK performances, the game’s lines for the most part, felt like they were being read from a novel. I could feel that the voice-actors did there best with what they have, but some of the dialogue is good to read, but not to hear. Case in point: I am a guy who loves the Star Wars prequels despite its cringey dialogue, and I’m having difficulty with this game. People don’t talk like the way they do in this game, and it detracts somewhat especially during scenes where there is a lot of exposition happening.
Not everything about this game is bad though. While I find the voice-acting expressionless and the dialogue hammy, the story itself is very interesting as it evokes Stephen King level atmosphere. Sure, this isn’t Stephen King level of writing, but you do get the same atmosphere that the legendary writer offered with his novels. While the over-all plot is a pretty convoluted mess especially if you haven’t played the first game, you still get to explore some interesting ideas especially with the suppression of memories, and behavior modification. The idea of a trigger object (which in this game is a sound played over loudspeakers) instantly changing normal people into aggressive, somewhat feral and murderous individuals is a topic I wanted delved into in games. Ultimately, it is this narrative that prevented this game from falling down the sub-5 rating, but only because I specifically liked this part of the story. Your experience may differ.
All in all, Remothered: Broken Porcelain tries to ride on and continue the wave of success that its predecessor had but with lackluster results. While it managed to create the right tone and atmosphere, and the plot can be interesting if you can follow it, its significant technical issues drag it down. It was fun figuring out what is happening in the Ashman Inn, it is NOT fun having to play before the next narrative exposition. That shouldn’t be the case, and the next installment should take these issues at heart and set out to improve them. I would say that they have the story down to pat already, but it’s probably time to either refine or overhaul the gameplay.