Have you just committed a terrible act? That’s what you’ll wonder as you solve puzzles while being scared out of your skin in MADiSON.
You awake with your hands bloody, and your father furiously knocking at the door. You appear to be trapped. Straight away, you need to get your brain in gear, even though you’re not really sure what’s happening. Eventually, you find a way out of the room, only to be pursued by your enraged parent. You’re now in your grandfather’s house, but the horror that MADiSON has in store for you is just beginning.
Ever since P.T. scared the life out of us and teased our brains way back in 2014, developers have used it as a reference for their own horror creations. None have managed to capture the magic of the ill-fated project, however, until now. Chances are you’ve never heard of Argentinian developer Bloodious Games, but after MADiSON, we feel like horror fans are going to be paying them lots of attention.
MADiSON is probably the closest thing to P.T. we’re ever going to get, unless Hideo Kojima has been working on something similar in secret. It puts you in the body of a troubled young boy, viewing the action from a first person perspective. And with photo-realistic visuals, you’re left to try and make your way out of a house, though your actions appear to be thwarted at every turn.
It quickly becomes apparent that something is very wrong in your grandfather’s house. An unfinished ritual will put you on edge, and then there’s the issue that the building itself seems to be alive. Doors that were there one minute are gone the next, and objects such as statues appear to follow you wherever you go. The only thing you can trust is your Polaroid camera, which seemingly taps into another world. Needless to say, you’ll become rather attached to it.
It’s safe to say that no game has made us feel as uneasy as MADiSON. With a story that deals in demonic possession, it truly feels like you’re being haunted, tortured and played with every step of the way. Though things definitely ramp up as you progress. The scares are measured at first, but the further you get into MADiSON, the more it tests your nerves. The last couple of hours are likely to truly test your capacity for scares.
From playing with your mind to terrifying you with apparitions that suddenly pop out of nowhere, MADiSON employs every trick in the book to put you on edge. It gets under your skin, making you second-guess every action you take, just in case something unsavoury will happen. Sound design plays a large role in the thick atmosphere that MADiSON creates, with creaks and other ambient sounds making the hairs stand up on the back of your neck even when no danger is present. And the story is solid thanks to high quality voice acting.
It’s the puzzles that will make or break MADiSON for you, however. These are the type of brain-teasers that truly require you to think. Fail to think outside the box or recall an important detail and you could find yourself stuck for hours. Thankfully, nearly everything here makes sense. One or two puzzles are particularly obscure, but when you find the solution, you’ll undoubtedly have a “a-ha!” moment that leaves you feeling like an idiot. In any case, while we were perplexed at times, we were playing it with minimal external help. By the time you’re playing, the answers will no doubt be plastered all over the internet.
Ultimately, if you love horror games, in particular P.T., simply know that you need to play MADiSON. This is the best pure horror game in years, shredding the nerves of even the most brave of souls. It can be a little frustrating when you get stuck on a devious puzzle, but when you finally find the solution it’s very rewarding. No game has horrified us quite as much as this debut from Bloodious. We just hope the studio is ready to follow up with something else even scarier.