Our Rating: 9/10
Song of Horror, to this day, still get a lot of positive feedback on PC. It’s practically a must-have for anyone who enjoys the genre. And for good reason! Despite drawing on mechanics found in games like Until Dawn, it still manages to engage the player in the story uniquely.
Over the years, the survival horror genre has evolved significantly. A style that has always appealed to a specific group of players, and which now appears to be in the midst of one of its best periods, as more and more copies are released.
It’s a genre that’s still going strong thanks to independent studios that see it as an opportunity to grow as well as pursue a more creative vision. It’s always fascinating to see how each proposal tries to entice us into suspense traps.
This is precisely the case with Protocol Games. They are a Spanish studio that has once again resorted to the Lovecraftian approach. It is really prevalent in this genre. Between October 2019 and May 2020, Song of Horror was released on Steam in five episodes, with a Complete Edition now available for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles.
It all begins with Sebastien P. Husher, a fiction author who mysteriously vanishes with his family. His editor is concerned, so he dispatches an assistant to gather information, beginning with a search of the writer’s mansion.
Unfortunately for him, he will be surprised by what is at the root of the Husher family’s disappearance, which is most likely connected to a music box that sings a sinister melody and contains an evil entity known as “The Presence.”
This brings us back to the beginning of the game, where we meet the main characters for the first time. We can choose between four characters in the first episode (more will be available in subsequent episodes), and each one has a brief history as well as the importance of each characteristic that will influence gameplay later on.
The difficulty levels are divided by the names of well-known authors such as ETA Hoffman, MR James, Edgar Allan Poe, and HP Lovecraft, which is a curious feature. For those unfamiliar, the last two are famous for suspense and horror works. They are equivalent to the two most difficult levels of difficulty.
The peculiarity of the characters having permanent death is one of the central elements of Song of Horror. Something suitable for all levels of difficulty except the easiest.
It is suggested that we play on Edgar Allan Poe’s difficulty, as the game was created specifically to be experienced in this way, with artificial intelligence, or better known as The Presence, having an adaptable aspect that creates events that fit our pace and decisions.
It explores the macabre atmosphere of investigation. Similar to games like Silent Hill and Resident Evil, we unravel plot details through notes and other documents found. There’s also a strong puzzle element, in which we interact with and combine objects to advance through the story.
The flashlight we have helps to create tension, and it’s psychologically valuable because it’s the only thing keeping us from falling asleep in the dark. Scares are meticulous and strike when we least expect it, leaving us in a state of perpetual bewilderment.
It is precisely these emotions that will shape our reactions at the apex of fast-paced events, whose panic to press the right buttons will result in terrifying moments. However, it isn’t perfect. The fixed-cam perspective has flaws and can be aggravating, as it gets in the way far too often.
It’s a perspective that usually works in these games, as evidenced by the Supermassive Games titles and even the first Resident Evil, but it’s not tuned well in Song of Horror. The same thing happens when we interact with objects. It requires a degree of persistence when we want to be focusing on a specific location.
It doesn’t wow with its graphics, but it doesn’t let you down either, and it has a few redeeming qualities. The attention to detail in the decorations is astounding, always sinister and solemn, creating a fantastic atmosphere of anxiety and paranoia. The Presence usually manifests terrifyingly, accompanied by spectacular visual constructions.
Because music is so important in this game, it cannot be undervalued. All of the work that goes into making it happen is excellent. Whether it’s in the melodies that intertwine in suspenseful heights or the sound effects that scare us.
Song of Horror is a fantastic piece of work. The decision to release the game on consoles makes perfect sense. Fans of the genre will no doubt be euphoric. This Protocol Games title is a must-have for anyone who enjoys a good survival horror game. All thanks to a set of clever and well-thought-out ideas.