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Budget Gamer - Free Game - Grave

Grave, which bills itself as an "open-world, surrealist survival horror experience set in a constantly changing reality" showed up on my radar via FaceBook. I'm not really into "horror" games, but I am into "free," even if at the current time it is just a "demo" version, so I downloaded it and gave it a try.

The scene opens on a desert landscape - could be any desert, but the coloration and rock cliffs and the sparse vegetation tend to make you think American West desert - border town in Nevada, maybe. The wind is blowing - it does that in this game - a lot. If you walk one direction, you'll hit a cliff, so you walk the other direction. Did I mention the wind is blowing? Ahead you see a house - clapboard style, barely holding together, completely abandoned, but not so recently that the power has been turned off. A static screen is displayed on the loan TV on the 2nd floor - where you find a book of matches.

Yeah, matches. Not much of a weapon, but then you haven't seen anything dangerous yet. You hold the lit match in front of you for want of something else to hold in front of you. That's good, because as you leave the house, you see abandoned buildings all around....skeletons of skyscrapers....they weren't there before...and they aren't there very long before your head goes all fuzzy and - you are in the yard of the house again.

Looks the same, only now there's a railroad track in one direction. I guess I'm supposed to follow that. The wind doesn't stop....and there's creepy background music, as if you're supposed to be worried about something.

The Good

This demo shows off a really creepy game that almost works for me. The music is ominous, the environments are big and lit starkly, and there's some thought to it. You eventually find a few items that give you the impression survival is possible (gas can, flash light, flares) - and then night falls quickly, and the zombies attack.

The sound environment is definitely creepy if simple. You hear breathing when you go around corners, but no source. You find a static-plagued TV. And the wind...the incessant wind....

The Bad

Of course, being a demo, I have cut the game an awful lot of slack. Still, you'd think they'd remember not to have the blowing dust and debris from outside keep blowing when you're inside. No really - the "wind effect" visuals follow you into the house, into the various other buildings - even deep into the mineshaft. The sound falls off, but you still see the debris blowing through your match light.

The Ugly

At the present time, the Zombies are little more than untextured bodies (ok, flat black mat is a texture, but you get my point). And they're very hard to kill. I "fired" my flashlight about 50 times at one, and it disappeared in a puff of smoke. Good kill. However his buddy then proceeded to attack, and my flashlight was drained before he died.

Zombies are also unencumbered by physics. The next time I climbed a ladder and waited on an elevated platform, hoping to ambush the zombies. I saw one coming, he saw me, turned and....followed a vector directly to my location. Walking on air.

"Ever Changing...."

Each time you die, the environment comes back slightly different. The zombie infested town remains the same, but the out buildings are different - sometimes there's a house (yes, the original house) and sometimes there's nothing. The last time there was a giant ring machine (you'll understand if you see it) and then....the game kind of ended.

"Be Afraid - Very Afraid"

Ok, I admit it - I jumped the first time a Zombie came after me. It was dark, and it had been a long day, and I was like "nothing to worry about, it's only sunset...."

Overall, I like where the game is going, even if it's not there yet. This could be fun - check it out. It's an experience.....