Should I be excited about… Huntsman: The Orphanage (PC)
The market for horror FPS game has become somewhat crowded since the release of Slender: The Eight Pages (and the YouTube videos of terrified gamers that accompanied it), but Shadow Shifters are hoping to bring their own unique personality to Huntsman: The Orphanage. As a family studio with a history of diverse projects including theater work, they bring a very distinctive, somewhat amatuerish but brilliantly enthusiastic approach to the horror genre. This is a game that integrates real world acting and performance into its traditional ghost story framework.
As you explore a stereotypical haunted house, you will come across some genuinely frightening, though often somewhat histrionic ghosts. The innovative feature here is how the ghosts communicate with you. They show up on your smartphone screen, which you have held up at all times. Mostly it is set t the camera, showing you an alternate view of the game world, but sometimes it gets taken over by one of these spirits. At these times, a human voice actor will come on the screen and talk with you. Clearly this was the part of the game where the developers had the most fun. Delightfully campy, at first it might seem like they kill the sombre, serious tone of the story, but in fact they’re representative of the looney fun you get from an old Hammer Horror film. If you approach Hunstman: The Orphanage with an open mind and a willingness to give yourself over to the pulpy story and slightly incongruous real world actors, it offers up an experience that’s both original and engagingly odd.
It’s still at an early stage of development, and at the moment its a bit too easy to get lost or miss vital clues as to what the game involves. Part of the fun is in discovery, and to say too much would spoil the experience, but there needs to be just a little more guidance offered to the player. Additionally, there’s a degree of self indulgence to the voice acting, and an initially interesting piece of dialogue quickly spirals into immense boredom as the long, long minutes pass by as you would for a salient plot point to develop.
Still, there’s an interesting story at the core of the game, and there’s enough scares to keep you on your toes. The opening moments (with the ringing call box in the dark field) set the tone for what will come as Huntsman: The Orphanage uses every trope of horror movies from throughout film history to terrify you. The real world actors might stand out a bit, from the game world, but with some filters applied they could blend in more and retain their campy appeal.
I had a lot of fun with Huntsman: The Orphanage. The Beta I played didn’t feature the eponymous “Huntsman”, who would be hunting me as I explored the Orphange if I was playing the final version of the game. Even without him though, there’s a good deal of frights and fun to be found while exploring this haunted playground.