As someone who loves both Silent Hill and Alan Wake, I was quite looking forward to Husk, the first-person horror game by UndeadScout that is heavily inspired by both. Released last Friday, having now spent some time with Husk however, the only feeling I have for it is disbelief.
You see, to put it bluntly, Husk is abysmal.
When I initially played it on Friday, the brief introductory sequence led me to believe that Husk might be one of those games that lacks a bit of polish but is actually quite enjoyable. Upon reaching the town of Shivercliff where the game’s events take place however, I was quickly mortified by it all.
For a start, it was incredibly glitchy. First I got stuck in a bush and had to reload the game. Then I found that I couldn’t pick up a torch that the game was prompting me to, so I had to restart again. Both times, gremlins behind the scenes made the game’s performance degrade a great deal upon reloading – a problem I found was solved by going into the games graphical settings and making a change, any change, and then setting it back again.
Progressing a bit further into Husk, I was faced with yet more irritations. Not knowing when I’d entered the correct key code to unlock a door for example, along with poor voice acting and a general lack of any type of atmosphere whatsoever. I thought maybe when I’d finally come face-to-face with some kind of creature or entity things would get more tense, but I was wrong. My first encounter with a monster was in fact simultaneously bewildering and comedic.
In a dark alleyway, a badly textured, awkwardly animated and overwhelmingly bland creature stood with its back to me. A prompt appeared on screen, informing me how to sneak. Taking the hint, sneak I did, but it was a fruitless endeavour; the creature had some sort of sixth sense which meant it would always detect me and charge without hesitation. After numerous deaths – performing the graphics tweak after each to make sure performance was up to scratch – as you can imagine, I was end the end of my tether.
Deciding to try a different approach, I readied to face the creature and beat it with the pipe I was holding. It was a laughable affair with my ugly foe sporadically recoiling to my blows, but it would not die. After receiving some hits myself, I did though. Realising that my hits didn’t damage the creature, only momentarily stun it, I decided to hit and run. It was a plan that worked eventually – the creature’s obscene speed even making fleet of foot a frustrating trial and error affair.
I continued a little further into Husk, but eventually playing it offended me so much that I just had to quit playing it. The cause was the combination of an awful map layout, fiddly controls and another woefully designed monster that ends your life by simply touching you. Only an hour or so into the game and I’d already given up. Husk was pretty much unplayable, and so I waited to see if a patch would quickly be released to fix some of its obvious issues. Unsurprisingly, by Sunday, there was such a thing.
The latest patch has improved things a little. The area I had previously lost the will to live in has been altered for the better. Enemies can now be killed with melee. Sneaking finally works. And with my newfound gun by my side I’ve progressed a lot further into the game, though even using that is a hit and miss affair as your character will often refuse to raise it if your foe is in close range. At this stage, Husk is still in no way a pleasurable experience, and once again I’ve got so far but have had to give up playing it for my own sanity. You can only face repeated technical glitches and broken game mechanics for so long after all.
So, can I say anything nice about Husk? I suppose the actual town of Shivercliff is quite nice to walk around, with some impressive scenery here and there. Even then though, the scale is off in some places, like the telephones on the pier which are above head height.
Husk very much feels like a game that is in Steam’s Early Access programme, but it’s not sold as such, and that’s what’s majorly disappointing about the whole thing. UndeadScout is assuredly hard at work improving it, but it may be too little, too late; its problems are possibly just too rooted to be totally eradicated. I really hope they can turn it around though, and will be sure to give it another try when the next patch hits, but I don’t have much faith that it’ll magically make it a good game. Unfortunately then, until you’re told otherwise, Husk is a game that you should steer well clear of. You have been warned.