One Final Breath Preview – Lost in the Dark
Someone needs to tell the dad from Dark Day Interactive’s One Final Breath that he should treat himself every once in a while. I mean, if your daughter has gone missing in some creepy abandoned school and you’re going to go looking for her, please splurge on a flashlight. I know it’s tempting to try to save money around the holidays, but when you’re wandering around pitch black halls filled with strange beings who just might want to tear your throat out, you’ll wish you’d bought that fancy high-powered flashlight. Seriously, it’s your missing daughter. Splurge a bit.
I have a flashlight app on my phone that is more powerful than the light this man brought with him to the demo Alpha build of One Final Breath. That might change given the early state of the game, but the extremely small cone of light you walk in kind of works. Don’t let the screenshots fool you, as this build of the game is much, much darker than it looks from those images. The darkness forces the player to get really, really close to anything they want to examine, and when you’re exploring a haunted environment, that can be really scary. Combining that with the player’s slow movement speed, and you’re only going to see the monstrous things in this abandoned school when you’re practically on top of them.
You’re further encouraged to explore because the environment keeps changing. Doors and passages that used to be blocked clear themselves out as you find clues and walk through certain areas, and it all looks pretty natural in this broken-down, abandoned place. I’m so used to hallways in horror games being cluttered with junk and boxes that I just assume the developers don’t want me to go that way. My brain doesn’t even register that this might become a viable path later, so I don’t even think about it when I see boxes piled in front of a door. It’s a good way to hide new passageways by using the natural clutter of the haunted building, and it really works in the ruined environments Dark Day Interactive has built.
Sometimes, this means a lot of poring over the environment looking for what’s different. This is where the small light source can become a nuisance, as you have to basically creep along the walls looking for differences in the abandoned school. The build can be beaten in about five minutes if you know what you’re doing, but combing the halls looking for where you’re supposed to go is what makes it take a lot longer. It’s hard to see, so you’re forced to take your time to explore, and while this makes the prospect of getting caught by monsters seem more frightening, it can give way to frustration when it makes you take a long time finding the right path. Being lost in a horror game is a careful balancing act, as you want players to feel frightened and lost without them getting mad for not being able to figure out where to go. Unfortunately, this build doesn’t quite pull that off.
I was quivering at the idea of running into that creature from the game’s artwork, but unfortunately, she’s nowhere to be found in the preview. Instead, I ran into some living wooden marionettes, and despite the atmosphere the game had built up, I just couldn’t make myself feel afraid of them. I hung back and behaved myself like a good little horror protagonist, but the goofy things just didn’t scare me at all. Watching them idly wandering the halls didn’t do a thing, and considering there weren’t many of them and they only showed up near the demo’s end, I ended up spending the final few moments of the build laughing at them. Hopefully they’re just stand-ins for something a little creepier to come.
The game attempted to frighten me some more with a countdown that appeared after I picked up an item near the end, but that didn’t work out all that well. I was given sixty seconds to get to the level exit after grabbing an old teddy bear, but that’s just not viable given the pitch-black halls. I accidentally wandered back to the start since I’d gotten myself lost, so I braced myself for my incoming death as the seconds dwindled. When it counted to zero, I took two damage out of a hundred health, rolled my eyes, and got back to exploring. I did find the door a few moments later, though, and was rewarded with a split-second view of the scary creature from the game’s cover.
The demo for One Final Breath dances a fine line between scary and annoying, with the claustrophobic maze-like level constantly bouncing between the two. The demo shows Dark Day Interactive can create a creepy building that looks great, building a tense atmosphere revolving around choking darkness and the monsters lurking within it, but the questionable enemies and weak payoff to the countdown sabotage what they’ve built. It has promise and the demo build shows that, but it still has work that needs to be done to make it truly scary. Maybe with some funding help from your Kickstarter dollars, it can reach that point.
To learn more about Dark Day Interactive and One Final Breath, you can look them up on Steam, IndieDB, Facebook, and Twitter. You can also decide for yourself if you want to donate to their Kickstarter by downloading the demo and trying it yourself.