Game: The Visitor by SnowOwl
Review by: Volrath
Summary: The Visitor is a quick, entertaining game with interesting visual elements that don’t always mesh together well.
Let’s make one point clear right away – this game is very good for being made in a week. The short horror/puzzle game The Visitor was produced in seven days for a contest…and I feel like I’ve been using similar explanations for many games I’ve reviewed so far. The growing frequency of contests with strict deadlines has resulted in a lot more finished games that I remember seeing in the past. There’s something to be said for having to keep your game’s scope in check, and ArtBane is currently discussing the possibilities of this approach in his own ongoing series.
Set in 1913, The Visitor follows one family as they move into a gigantic mansion left behind by an uncle who died under mysterious circumstances. Taking on the role of the son, and later his father, the player wanders the halls solving little puzzles and looking at the paintings on the wall (presented to the player in all their grim glory, this is one of the game’s visual highlights) until it becomes clear that something very sinister and very large is lurking in the creepy forest behind the house.
The game could be finished in less than an hour, but plan on spending a little more than that as you do laps around this mansion frantically investigating every object as you try to figure out what you missed. Yes, the game’s puzzles can be obtuse at times, but tenacious players will eventually find the item they need to continue through sheer thoroughness. It’s worth completing the game just to see the spectacularly grim ending, which has a fantastic visual effect that I wouldn’t dare spoil.
Speaking of visuals, The Visitor is almost entirely made up of non-RTP assets, which is astounding for a game that was under such a tight deadline. The moody tileset reminds me a lot of stuff people made for RPG Maker 2000 – they emphasized dark colors and were a striking contrast to the bright atmosphere of the RTP. I also like how meek the sprites look. It emphasizes how puny this family is compared to the dark forces lurking just beyond their backyard. However, I’m not sure the sprites mesh well with the mapping. There’s a bit of a scale problem when you have these little sprites walking these absolutely massive hallways. The amount of empty space in many of the rooms doesn’t help with this. This is only a problem in the interior maps, the forest maps outside are more convincing.
Only requiring a small time investment, I can’t think of a reason not to recommend The Visitor. The creator has shown a lot of skill for working within strict conditions, but I’d be excited to see what SnowOwl can do when rushing isn’t a factor, and with that name attached to several other games available to check out on the forums, perhaps I’ll fire a different one up sometime soon.
Has anyone played this game? What was your opinion on its unique art? How about that nightmare of an ending? (Discuss that one with spoiler warnings, please). What should we review next? Sound off in the comments!