One way developers help players get to know their game prior to launch is through early access or a free demo. Taking the free demo route, Darkling Room has released a two hour (or less) experience that lets you get to see what Silent Night is all about. This experience brought to light that this actually isn’t a horror game, but rather a spooky adventure game full of puzzles and curiosities. It is certainly an interesting way of looking into paranormal investigation games.
After arriving in a field just outside the church grounds, you will get a chance to get to know the controls as you search around a bit before approaching the church doors. This is where I found that the controls themselves need some work as there is no way to simply turn around in one spot. If you need to turn around, you will have to do a circle maneuver in order to get your character facing the right way in the specific spots with interactions on them. This is a big issue for me, but as far as the overall experience goes, it is also the only real issue with this game.
The puzzles are in the interactions with the first sample one being a way to get the map. Keeping it all on one screen, you could see how the puzzle idea works with finding the items you need and using them in the right location within the right interaction. This concept is the same from the simple style to the more intricate ones.
You are given a few ghost hunting devices to use, such as the EMP scanner and Sound Recorder. You also have a night vision option, but that is for you to be able to see easier. Using these devices where you see shadows reveal an active scanner and spooky sounds. Sometimes they are audible while other times they are simply creepy noises being captured. The locations of ghosts are often captured on your camera, which the player pulls out automatically when they reach specific locations on the map, and then need to be pointed out in the pictures. Standing in these spots, or in the spots where you see shadowy figures that aren’t captured on the camera, is where you want to use your ghost hunting tools.
When using any of your devices, the EMP scanner, Sound Recorder, or Night Vision, the players view will switch from third to first person. While this is usually not a problem, the feeling of the controls changes drastically. The player is suddenly faster, turning around is now a possibility, but it isn’t smooth, and a general sense of the control the player had is lost.
Silent Night is a fun game with some interesting puzzles. I like the idea that it isn’t about the horror of being on haunted grounds, but rather the adventure of ghost hunting and being a paranormal investigator. The controls in both third person and first person mode need to be drastically improved along with some of the animations, such as running and general environment interaction. There is also a need to lessen how much talking the character does as many times it is unnecessary and the same goes with repeating cutscenes. If I am entering a building that has an initial cutscene showing the full building, I don’t need to see this little scene every single time I enter this building.
There is obviously still some work that needs to be done to improve the overall gameplay of the game, but the demo proved to be interesting and to get my attention on the game.