I absolutely love the horror genre. I love it so much I almost lost everything I had making a horror short film. So I thought I was going to adore “Claire”. And while it charmed me in more ways than one, I didn’t particularly find the experience all that fun.
Don’t get me wrong: Hailstorm Games put together an extremely competent game, and I’m sure there’s an audience out there for it that will be absolutely blown away by it. I cannot deny its quality as a gaming experience. But it did fail to click with me, and I found that odd, considering how apt I appeared at first glance to be the perfect audience for it.
Let’s get out of the doom and gloom mood though, and sing the praises of the things that did blow me away.
First off, the game looks fantastic. I love the side-scrolling aspect of it, as I think a lot of adventure games are lacking a more 2D approach. The art is gorgeous and the dynamic lighting is one of the highlights (pun intended) of the game. It also runs as smooth as butter on Satan’s buttocks, which is a fresh change of pace for Vita ports.
The ambiance is also extremely appropriate, with sound effects a particular high point for me. The music is, for the most part, just “there”, but is nonetheless very effective. Event-triggered sounds and music are much more satisfying, though, and well worth the traversing of confusing corridors.
That’s one problem I had with “Claire”: it’s a bit confusing to navigate. While you do have a map, all you can do is go left or right, while some corridors are horizontal or vertical (in the map). So it can take a bit of getting used to before you’re able to find the door that leads you to your target.
The targets are also a bit of an issue, as they’re usually nothing more than a few fetch quests (a problem I also had with “Alone With You“). I feel like some more effort could have been put into designing clever puzzles for the player to solve.
I know the point of the game is the story, and unraveling the mysteries (and miseries) surrounding our eponymous hero. But there just isn’t enough story and plot elements presented to the player in between questing and exploring to keep your attention all the time.
I know it seems like I’m having a major downer on the game, but I’m not. I liked a lot of what it had to offer, and maybe that’s why I’m coming down a bit hard: I see the potential it had, but it felt squandered a bit by repetitive gameplay and too little narrative.
While ultimately a good game, “Claire” is an experience that relies on its atmosphere rather than its game play, and its scarce story elements make that a difficult (and sometimes monotonous) task.
- Title: Claire: Extended Cut
- Publisher: Hailstorm Games
- Developer: Hailstorm Games
- Format: PSN Download
- Size on Card: 655mb.