While it’s technically imperfect and a bit unpolished, Abramelin Games has a pretty frightening survival horror game for PS4 owners in Injection π23 ‘No name, no number’ ($9.99). That ten bucks gets you a pure passion project (made over the course of five years) in the form of a multimedia game experience featuring puzzles guaranteed to test your brain cells, unsettling monsters to avoid or fight (in that order) and plenty of horrific nightmare fuel imagery. It’s noted before you start to to wear headphones and play in the dark, but I opted out of the headphone use part after trying this for the first hour and needing to remove them because I was kind of freaking out a wee bit too much (the sound design is pretty damn intense).
You play as a rather troubled man living alone with his dog in Villanueva de Tapia (a village in Málaga, Spain). When his pet runs off, he’s seemingly struck by a truck while giving chase and regains consciousness only to find himself in a twisted variation of the village and yes, still needing to find that dog. In pure survival horror fashion, you get disturbing visuals, locked doors that require opening in one way or another, and as noted, the aforementioned monsters. You’ll also discover a mystery about missing townspeople, murders and torture rituals with a religious angle and more depravity. The mix of Unity engine assets, enhanced live action video clips and appropriately timed jump scares keep things tense throughout where when things do quiet down, there’s still the sense that something’s going to happen. Let’s just say Villanueva de Tapia’s tourism numbers will either rise or decline after this game gets more notice, although my take is it’ll increase if horror fans are curious enough to see how scary a spot it is in real life.
Exploration will be the first key to your survival, as the game places all sorts of clues to what needs to be done but doesn’t highlight where you need to search. One of the great things the game does right off the bat is allow for four camera angles to choose from on the fly, similar to Riverhill Soft’s Doctor Hauzer and OverBlood games. This freedom lets you explore how you want from classic Resident Evil style, two different third-person mode and first-person, although you can expect that first-person mode to deliver those creep-tastically ugly monsters in your face as they try to eat your face off. Plan accordingly, but expect to do a bit of jumping in fear on occasion when you’re surprised.
While the English localization could have used better proofreading, I found it made the game a bit more compelling if you considered the possibility that the protagonist’s own English may be a tad iffy and you’re seeing and reading those clues and clippings as he sees them. Additionally, as his mental state is suspect, the manner in which some translated clues are presented as walls of text was an interesting decision, as it also seemed to reflect his mind’s imbalanced state. Well, that’s what I like to think at least. That said, the game isn’t at all unplayable with that spotty translation and text walls – it’s just going to be trickier for some of the most stubborn native English speaking players to get through. I do give the developer props for presenting/keeping the game in Spanish even if it’s because the budget was probably too small to hire a voice actor. This adds a perfect layer of realism to the insanity happening onscreen and forces players who don’t speak the language to really dive deep (and perhaps learn a few words and phrases in the process).
There are quite a few puzzles to tackle and a handful are fairly easy to figure out if you pay attention to the environments and what’s in them (provided nothing is chasing you). Most of the other puzzles are definitely brain-melters to varying degrees, but in that clever “Ah, I see – I’m SO dumb for not getting this sooner!” manner found in some great adventure game classics . Keeping a pen and paper handy is a must, as is absolutely paying attention when the game nudges you to check your inventory. Otherwise, you’ll get stuck in some areas on some puzzles where combining or using items is key. One thing the game desperately needs to have patched in is an option to highlight items on the ground or anywhere else that they can be found. It’s currently a bit too frustrating to have to jam on the X button in hopes of picking up clues or anything else that’s not in plain sight.
Saving in the game is HIGHLY recommended (seriously) although you need to craft your save slot using gathered goodies. It’s a bit of an annoyance if you decide to play the game in very short spurts, but get used to it particularly when the map opens up and more of the village needs to be searched. Monsters have the tendency to spawn near or right at save locations, so a bit of patience is in order when coming back to a map. Combat isn’t a strong point, but it’s here and does come in handy when you can fire off shots and not miss. Clearly, this gloomy dude is no Leon Kennedy or Claire Redfield at all. He just wants to find his lost dog and get the hell out of the twisted version of his home town. Oh, and solve that mystery because it needs to be solved once and for all.
As noted, the game can quite difficult at times, but if you’ve the persistence and patience to see it through, Injection is a pretty decent game once you settle in for the long haul. Sure it wears its influences on its sleeve (Resident Evil, Silent Hill, Alone in the Dark, and so forth and so on. But the game’s rawness combined with some unsettling visual moments kind of elevate it between greatness (for its disturbing content) and “Well, let’s wait for a patch” to fix what doesn’t work well. There’s an almost Deadly Premonition-like flair at work here and that was a game that people liked or hated that’s used as a barometer of some sort to this day. Abramelin (or Jose Antonio Muriel) has two more sequels planned and I’m hoping they get completed and released at some point, as I want to see where this story will lead. Granted, improvements will need to be made in key areas so more horror fans can dive in and see what’s what. But I think it can be done because the developer seems quite open to constructive criticism.
Go give him some, I say.
Score: C (70%)
Review code provided by the publisher