You’re dragged to the middle of the woods, outside the city, where no one can hear your last words. It is your fault after all, you brought this very ending to yourself.
The city lights can no longer be seen, and the dark skies blend in perfectly with the darkness among the trees. It’s almost sad this is where it all ends, the final moment before you hear the gunshot. You close your eyes, waiting for that final bang… But it never comes, and you remember, how it works. Those who sit in front of the barrel of the gun, never hear it coming, they are dead before that characteristic noise blasts through the air.
But somehow, you’re still alive....
Your thoughts are interrupted by screams, and the macabre sound of fresh tearing from the bones. At that moment you realized, something murdered the assassin who was about to kill you. There’s no time to think, you must boost your reflexes and move on, keep surviving and remain alive.
This is how Octave starts, a Point & Click horror adventure game, developed Anatolii Koval, a one-man studio project that started back in Steam’s Greenlight, and hit the store in October 2016. The game offers a traditional Point & Click experience, with an intense horror setting that will surely give jump scares and strong feelings for horror fans.
Although our survivor is saved by a creature far more scarier than any gun, it’s still hostile, so the player must survive in the swampy woods, surrounded by the unknown.
Octave takes place in an unknown location, with an unnamed protagonist, but the dangers those are quite known to any man across the ages. Demons, beasts, witches, and all sorts of mythical creatures that haunt the tales and myths of mankind.
Octave is all hand-drawn, with a technical appreciation for horror, and quite the attention to details. The woods where we first start, are displayed with isolation, mystery and an unsettling feeling, leaving the rest to your own imagination. The deeper we go, the better it gets.
Our hero will eventually come across an abandon, but very much alive residence, where strange events occur. The events go on, up to the underground, where evil awaits for those who dare, but horror isn’t just visuals, there’s a lot more to it.
To come across the perfect horror setting, it's like a complete deck of cards, it takes all the deck to properly play. Octave plays out with all the right cards. The footsteps breaking the silence in the woods, the far-off sounds of bugs, the wind settling up the crows, it’s a complete mix of atmospheric well placed feelings that come together to stop you from being comfortable.
Sound itself is a powerful way to increase imagination, and the stronger are the footsteps over different materials, the more forsaken you feel. It somehow reminds us of old Resident Evil and Silent Hill games, where footsteps were loud, making sure the player felt alone, yet, revealing its position to an uncertain enemy.
Visually the game does some shadow play, but it certainly looks fantastic to the eye. It’s hard to see artists doing all the work by hand nowadays, and it’s even harder when they don’t try to be pretentious. Anatolii Koval made sure everything had a very distinct feeling, but at the same time, as realistic as possible, with details such as rust, dirt, even nails scratch marks on the walls can be visible and appreciated, and most importantly, avoiding the cartoonish art style.
Octave has definitely a ritualist feeling into it, and as soon as the player leaves the forest, it becomes clear this title has a lot of secrets up to his sleeve such as how locations previously visited can and will be affected, by either creatures, or specific events that present bizarre distortions.
Although being a 2D title, it didn’t get slightly affected by it, as both design and mechanics came out perfectly to create a fantastic horror experience.
Mechanically speaking, Octave works just like many other Point & Click games, where with just the mouse, players can fully enjoy the game. One click to walk, two to run. Simple and effective.
To further survive this adventure, our protagonist will need to interact with objectives, collect items and complete a few puzzles to progress, and more importantly, to remain alive.
The puzzles are intuitive and often use common sense everyone can understand, even if they require attention to the elements. Objects sometimes may have more than one use, including hiding answers for your enigmas.
Using this mechanic allows you to avoid enemies by outrun them, trap them or even kill a beast if you get your timings correctly. Monsters are afraid of light, so turning up the lights might be a good idea to progress, although after a couple of hours playing, you can’t help but feel you’re progressing to hell itself…
Octave uses a very distinct method to detect and avoid enemies. Usually, Point & Click games give its user free control over the mouse cursor, and so it is in this case, however… The cursor shakes when over or nearby an enemy. This gives both a chilling effect, since sometimes you know something is present, but can’t quite see what, as an interesting concept of mechanics.
As a rule made out by former experiences, Point & Click games with enemies or even boss fights don’t really add up, not in an action element that is. Octave, however does it perfectly well. Despite avoiding enemies, there are two not avoidable creatures; one midway through the game, and the final boss. In both case scenarios, the game uses simple run and selecting objects to defeat the beasts, using smartness over frustrating action events. That’s always a plus in our books.
Octave is a fantastic horror game, its only weak point being the game's length, with just up to 2 or 3 hours, depending on what type of a person you are. Assuming one would go through the game fast enough, 30 minutes would do to complete this adventure, but do you really want to do that? Horror is an all-senses experience, and enjoying both the visuals and the overall atmosphere can grant you some amazing time with this title.
Octave is the reflex of passion for horror and video-games, and developed by just one person, it shows how much dedication went into making this adventure.
It’s rare to come by games that are simple, and honest when comes to horror, avoiding pretentiousness and just sharing a thrilling mystery with more questions than answers.