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Reveil

Reveil

Pixelsplit wants to scare you silly in this twisted and immersive horror title.

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The horror genre is a difficult one to put a pin on. It's filled with some truly remarkable efforts from the AAA and indie scene combined, but there are also a huge array of absolute disasters too. It can be difficult to determine which side of the spectrum a new IP and project from a less established developer will find itself, but for Pixelsplit and their new effort Reveil, this hasn't proved a challenge whatsoever.

Because any person who enjoys being scared silly and feeling the hairs over their body stand on end will fall in love with this game. It's immersive, unsettling, creepy, and well-paced, and the development team have created something that's quite entertaining with this game.

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The idea of Reveil is that you play as a man trying to unravel and piece together his past. Why is his life seemingly a disaster, why is he relieving key moments from his past, why is everything so twisted and dark? These are all questions that get answered as Reveil continues to progress its story as you work through the various chapters set in freaky environments and locations. Be it a circus, a haunted forest, a moving train, there are a slate of unique settings to experience, and each also brings their own terrors to face, usually in the form of monstrous versions of people from protagonist Walter's life.

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Reveil's story gets increasingly dark and more terrifying as you continue through the narrative. It starts quite mysterious and strange and by the end it's outright horrifying. It's a spiral into madness and despair, and the way that the set pieces are arranged and the different mechanics are introduced as the game progresses work hand-in-hand to achieve this feat. What begins as environmental puzzle solving as seen in the likes of Maquette or even Resident Evil 7: Biohazard and Village (with these two standing out as Reveil is also a first-person title) where you have to find keys or complete mini-games to acquire an item that will open the way to the next encounter, it all quickly spirals into a Slender Man or Outlast-type experience where you are constantly running for your life or hiding from creatures that want nothing more than to find and kill you.

In fact, the opening two chapters give the impression that the game is attempting to use its ambience and sound design as the primary ways to freak you out, but soon after it introduces stalker enemies and flashlight systems where you can only really see directly in front of you. The sound design is truly brilliant and playing this game with headphones on will keep you on the edge of your seat and constantly fearful of some creature leaping out of the shadows and scaring you. Pixelsplit has clearly spent a lot of time building and refining the ambience of this game and it shows because it is quite frankly far more terrifying than many of the horror games that are celebrated today. Granted, I do think the first-person perspective does a lot to build immersion and double-down on the fear factor, which some games like the earlier Resident Evils and The Evil Within etc. lose due to their third-person style.

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However, just because Reveil is a terrifying game doesn't mean it's fantastic across the board. The narrative itself, while dark and unsettling, doesn't really rope the player in and drive them to want to know more. The dialogue and the way the story is pushed forward feels more like an afterthought to accommodate the frightening gameplay elements in a similar way to Five Nights at Freddy's and Poppy Playtime, games that have very little compelling story but still work wonders at making you jump out of your skin.

Plus, while many of the puzzles in the game are excellent, some tend to be more frustrating than engaging or fun. There are times when you will get stuck when attempting to crack a cipher or finding a missing item, and due to the game's hint system being mediocre at the best of times, Reveil doesn't do a lot to help you back on your way. The collectibles and ways to explore a little beyond the beaten path feel like an element that probably should have been removed altogether too, as it never feels compelling to hunt for these extra items as they have very little value and add nearly nothing to the overall experience.

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But you come to Reveil for the horror, right? You come to be frightened and terrified and this game achieves that with great success. Sure, it's a bit rough around the edges in a few places and a bit of extra refinement could have done wonders to tighten up the experience and focus it more on what matters. But, the ambience, sound design, set design, most of the gameplay, it's all ideal and really nails the job description of what you expect from a horror title. Pixelsplit has created an immersive, unsettling, and truly scary game with Reveil, one that is definitely not for the faint-hearted.

08 Gamereactor UK
8 / 10
+
Absolutely terrifying. Awesome ambience. Great sound design. Really immersive.
-
Narrative doesn't quite pack a punch. Some puzzles lead to frustration.
overall score
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REVIEW. Written by Ben Lyons

Pixelsplit wants to scare you silly in this twisted and immersive horror title.



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