Ape Law’s oddball psychological horror game Albino Lullaby has no blood and gore splattering anything and not a single jump scare to rattle your cage as you explore its bizarre, stylized maps. What it does deliver is a downright creepy vibe, some room-twisting shenanigans and those weird creatures called “Grandchildren” that may or may not freak you out whenever you encounter them. Okay, they will freak you out if the sight of what looks like a man-sized finger with the face of what looks like a zombie version of one of Team 17’s Worms games is something you find scary. And yep, you can even buy stuff with those faces on it that include throw pillows and a travel coffee mug.
Currently available on Steam, this episodic first person adventure released back in September is timed perfectly for the season, what with the weather getting chillier and Halloween haunting just around the corner. Playing as an accident victim who wakes up in a very weird town, part of the game is discovering where you are and how the hell you’re going to get out. The game’s bold use of Unreal 4 in such a stylized manner has the surreal, gaudy Victorian meets scratchy modernist environment look like a bad dream come to life.
Gameplay mixes exploration through areas with modular rooms, stealth when necessary and a bit of running like hell when dealing with those icky Grandchildren. I was actually chuckling at one point during the episode because those ugly elbow-biters reminded me of the even more unsettling poison spewing skulls from Shadow Tower, FromSoftware’s nightmarish first-person RPG. Like that oldie, sound design is used incredibly well in Albino Lullaby. The assorted creaks and groans coming through a decent set of headphones combined with some excellent voice acting had me taking off those cans and sticking to speakers. I like my horror immersive, but this was a wee bit too much as I kept checking behind me every few minutes and had a nice fright during a chase sequence I didn’t expect.
While the game has a few minor issues, it’s more than fun to experience and hope future episodes can keep the same tone as they’re released. The one thing the best episodic games nail is making sure consistency is carried over while continuing to surprise players with twists that hit at the proper points. AL has no pace-breaking cinematic sequences, but the gameplay ends up being varied enough so that it’s neither a constant chase nor a complete drag. The happy medium here may not be everyone’s cup of tea. But Ape Law’s confidence in their game along with that game’s liberal doses of humor and strangeness certainly make it worth playing. Now, all they need to do is make enough of a profit in order to get this onto a few consoles. Horror fans with more open minds who know horror isn’t just gore galore and “B” movie tropes just may eat this one up if it’s on a platform they can all play it on.