Song of Horror episode 3 is here, and it’s as disturbing as you’d expect.
That’s mostly down to the supernatural aspects of this episodic game, though I did come across a few odd bugs. Choosing to play as a black, female student, I found myself controlling a white, Caribbean-accented policeman, which was oddly unsettling in its own right.
Whoever’s shoes you end up in, Song of Horror episode 3 has you poking around a dimly-lit university, seeking to end the curse that’s plaguing one of the game’s characters.
Episode 3, like previous episodes, does absolutely everything it can to keep you perpetually spooked. Even when you’re not hiding from ‘The Darkness’, or frantically slamming a door so it can’t ooze through, you’ll be afraid to take a step. A neat trick, this time around, is that there’s no obvious safe zone: the previous episodes let you step outside, even though you couldn’t leave the premises. Here you’re afforded no such luxury; nowhere is safe.
And then things get worse. I won’t spoil things for you, but episode 3 of Song of Horror plays on some common phobias in an effective (if not particularly original) manner. Even this episode’s puzzles are off-putting, including one revolving around a potentially-haunted projector. I was kept on edge throughout the episode; so much so that I’m willing to forgive the fact you can’t just turn on the main lights and stop poking around in the gloom. Song of Horror‘s story, which revolves around a haunted McGuffin, isn’t the main draw here: it’s the prospect of being scared out of your skin.
What’s less forgivable, however, is the game’s permadeath system which means if all your four characters expire, you have to restart the chapter. Reviewing Song of Horror episode 1 and 2 I praised this feature but, three episodes in, it’s started to impact my enjoyment of the game.
You also have no real control over the game’s camera which, in isolation, is only a minor issue. However, I got killed several times because the camera flipped around just when I was making a run for a hiding space. This left me disoriented, unable to get to safety because I’d no idea which direction led to my refuge. At this point, I’d like to be able to turn permadeath off.
Song of Horror episode 3 dials up the ‘nope’, filled with moments where you know what you have to do but sheer terror prevents you from stepping into the breach. Partly because the game’s so damn scary, but also because you’ve seen horror movie protagonists get themselves into the same situation. A darkened stairwell? Do I really have to do this?
No, you don’t – but you probably will. If Song of Horror already has its claws into you, episode 3 won’t disappoint.