As human beings, we normally rely on our sense of vision to process familiarity with our surroundings. Hell, you reading this means you’re already using it. So what happens when we are deprived of our visual sense? That just means our bodies other senses will eventually be enhanced if we ever want to have any hope of getting from Point A to Point B.
That’s exactly the kind of game Stifled is.
Platform Reviewed: PS4
Platforms Available: PC, PS4
Developer: Gattai Games
Publisher: Gattai Games
Release Date: October 31, 2017
This review is based on a review code provided by Sony Interactive Entertainment.
Stifled puts a unique spin on the horror genre by taking away your sense of sight. Trapped in the darkness, you will only have your sense of hearing to rely on for moving around. More specifically, you use echolocation – a method utilized by bats and other animals – as an in-game mechanic which allows you to see.
With no ability to fight, Stifled is similar to games like Amnesia and Outlast. You’ll have to depend on stealth in order to survive; that alone can be very tricky. By relying solely on making noise in order to get a grasp on your surroundings, there’s a chance that your enemies will hear it as well. As you can tell, much of the game will involve you trying to balance out in getting familiar with what’s around you, all the while moving at a pace which attracts as little danger as possible.
As a horror game, Stifled can be quite effective in instilling within you that sense of paranoia. One of humanity’s greatest fears is the fear of the unknown. When deprived of our most primary means of processing information, we’re left to wander in the dark and our imagination fills in the gaps of horror.
However, one can consider that echolocation is actually a better option to rely on during a situation such as this, rather than using one’s eyesight. Without taking it for granted, using your eyes does, and always will, give us information as to what’s in front. But with superior hearing senses, we’re only limited to a certain extent, such as giving it giving us the ability to tell what’s behind certain walls within a specific range. This actually allows us to formulate a plan better than if we were only relying on eyesight alone. And technically, we do still see our surroundings in the traces of white outlines for every object struck by sound waves. So we’re really just relying on our sense of vision for the game but in a different way, one that we’re not familiar with.
Despite all this, Stifled still does a good job of making you fear each step you take.
It’s definitely unique in a way that allows you to use a microphone if you wish to do so. You can send vibrations with the sound of your own voice to be able to get a good look at your surroundings, although it poses the risk of being spotted by enemies who are lurking in the darkness. You are also able to pick up items which you can throw around, giving you the options of using them as a means of attracting enemies or to get a better understanding of your surroundings from a safer distance; you can even use the mechanic to do both at once.
The monster designs in Stifled are quite unique. I say this because you won’t exactly get a good glimpse of how they look. However, what we do know is that all they want to do is hurt us. Their only known depiction is that they look somewhat similar to deformed humans.
They’re not really anything new or truly scary looking, but what gives them that threating edge is our inability to grasp their form; that along with the added fact of barely being able to see them. Our lack of information keeps them shrouded in a dangerous and mysterious air.
There is definitely quite a few good reasons to be playing Stifled for those who are interested in horror games. The game is available for VR for those who have it.