Growing up, few genres had their hooks in me the way that survival horror managed too. I spent many nights staying up into the wee hours of the morning with nothing but the glow of my small TV and the power light of my PlayStation console keeping me safe from the horrors that awaited me in Raccoon City or Silent Hill. While my taste for the thrill of seeking out what goes bump in the night hasn’t changed, the genre has. Most of the newer horror games that come and go require the player to simply make it from point A to B, evading the nightmarish creatures that stalk the digital playgrounds. Few give the player any hope of defending themselves, essentially leaving my favorite genre as nothing more than a glorified walking simulator. Does The One We Found spark new light into the seemingly forgotten genre? Let’s take a look.
The story follows James Ledgewick, a psychotherapist who works at Whisperwood Mental Institution, as he seeks out the horrors that have overtaken the hospital after a mining team finds an ancient evil buried within the tombs below the institute. While not the most original story to grace a gaming console, it works and drove me to uncover each and every secret I could find within the game world. The game is light on voice work and relies heavily on the player seeking out notes tucked away that can be picked up, as well as things scrawled across walls, a staple of older horror games. Sadly, this is where the pros end and the opportunities come into play.
Looking at this subjectively, it’s pretty amazing that a single person created the bulk of this game within the Unity engine, with a finished product that is light years ahead of what I could have accomplished with the same tools; unfortunately, the complete product feels overly dated and lacks polish. Still images or videos with flickering lights (which there are a lot of) look pretty damn impressive, but once you look at the same images under the bright light of your flashlight, the textures and rendered items look comparable to an OG Xbox game at their best, and early PS2 era at their worst. Had the game been released on a past generation of systems, the developer would probably be sitting in a tub of money swimming around Scrooge McDuck style.
These issues become evident early on into the experience, with any form of plant life coming across as jagged points shooting out of the ground at random intervals and wood grains looking extremely blurry, and only getting worse as you proceed. Many times, you’ll come across lights that logic tells me are emitting sparks; however, the way they are rendered makes it look as if they are shooting out a stream of bright yellow piss. The issues are not limited to the environment, as the enemies look just as dated, if not worse: poor textures, mysteriously vanishing body parts, clipping, and running through objects are a common occurrence. Pouring salt into the wound, the enemy AI seems to turn on and off at random, running into static assets or standing still ignoring me altogether. While there are brief moments of brilliance, particularly some of the later, more horror centered areas, the finished product seems like the developer decided that the regular environments were not as much fun to design and kind of threw them together haphazardly.
Some time ago, the gaming community came together to determine that the right trigger would and will forever be assigned as the button to make guns go bang. Sadly, Loveridge Studios didn’t get this memo and assigned both the look and shooting commands to the bumper buttons, making combat extremely awkward. The control issues are not limited to this, as the look and movement controls are equal parts unresponsive and overly floaty, depending on which direction you move, with no option within the menus to adjust the controls whatsoever. All in all, the button placement feels strange, is overly cumbersome to complete menial tasks such as reloading your flashlights battery, and feels like a complete failure on every front. I found the option for combat to be refreshing, despite the awkward approach to it. It’s rare to come across a new horror game that is anything more than a glorified game of hide and go seek, with a few jump scares added for immersion. Had this mechanic been a bit more polished, I feel like it would’ve made some of the other misses easier to stomach.
The game boasts two modes of play, which includes a story mode, containing the standard experience that runs around three hours depending on how often you die or get lost. With no mid-mission check points in place, death extends gameplay for a longer period than it should. The second mode is a Nazi zombies-esque survival experience. This puts you in a small, dimly lit room (with no lifesaving flashlight) as zombies slowly make their way towards you. There’s a number of issues within this mode, most of which stem from the troubles I’ve mentioned in this review, with the never ending darkness and running out of ammo being the biggest challenges. I sat down and tried this mode a number of times, and even if you manage to pull off back to back headshots, never missing a beat, you’ll never acquire enough money to refill your ammo prior to running out and effectively dying.
The One We Found has some great ideas and works on atmospheric levels, but the complete package never comes together as a cohesive experience due to a lack of polish and some poor design choices. Much like the flickering lights that permeate the darkness found within the Whisperwood Mental Institution, there are moments that shine through, showing what could have been had Loveridge Studios leveraged some additional manpower or taken the time to polish the title more. That said, I would leave this where it lies and hope for a patch to better the experience. Ideally the next venture for the studio packs a bit more of a punch.
5 out of 10
- Interesting Concept
- Some Atmospheric Horror
- Throwback to Older Survival Horror
- Uneven/Dated Presentation
- Survival Mode is Terrible
- Awkward Controls
The One We Found was developed and published Loveridge Designs. It was released on PC and X1 October 31st, 2018 for $19.99. The game was provided to us for review on X1. If you’d like to see more of The One We Found, check out the official site.
Here at GBG we use a rating method that you are more than likely familiar with – a scale of 1 to 10. For clarification, we intend on using the entire scale: 1-4 is something you should probably avoid paying for; 5-7 is something that is worth playing, but probably not at full price; 8-10 is a great title that you can feel confident about buying. If you have any questions or comments about how we rate a game, please let us know.