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Reveil review

Reveil review 1
Image: Pixelsplit

P.T. has a lot to answer for. While it wasn’t the first first-person psychological horror game to inflict its scares upon players, since it shadow-dropped on the PlayStation Store in 2014 it’s by far been the most impactful. The latest release to take clear inspiration from it is Reveil, by developer Pixelsplit. Putting players in the shoes of Walter Thompson, he awakes with a thunderous headache. Though that’s soon overshadowed by the apparent disappearance of his wife and daughter.

A narrative-driven horror game, Reveil is all about atmosphere. You’ll spend a lot of time in your empty house, which almost seems to be living the way it shifts layout on repeated visits. But with your whole family working for a circus, you also spend a lot of time wandering around rides. These are often made more outlandish by your strange visions – it’s clear that something isn’t right with Walter from the outset, but just what is the deal with him? That’s something you’ll want to find out.

By the time you’re done with Reveil you’ll have visited a wide range of locations, and will have had multiple story elements thrust upon you to give you what you probably believe is a solid idea of what everything is about. At this point, you’re likely to think that it’s quite derivative of a whole host of similar horror games. Reveil then does something to sweep the rug right out from under your feet, however, regaining your interest and perhaps appreciation.

Reveil review 3
Image: Pixelsplit

While Reveil is very much a horror game, it’s not the scariest out there. It has a good atmosphere throughout, and some scenes are certainly creepier than others, but you’re not going to need to keep clean set of underwear nearby just in case. Aside from jump scares, it does have some sections where you’re either pursued by an entity or need to creep around one, and these are the perhaps the most tense. The good news is that these situations aren’t overly frustration or challenging, so won’t act as roadblocks for those who aren’t so confident under pressure.

The highlight of Reveil is undeniably its puzzles. You’ll encounter many throughout the game’s five-hour-or-so running time, and some of them really require you to get your thinking cap on. They’re all logical though, so if you pay attention to what’s around you chances are you’ll never feel overly frustrated or get stuck on one for too long. And when you do solve a puzzle, you genuinely feel a sense of satisfaction.

With the story split into five chapters, there are also a wealth of collectibles to discover. Are they worth it? Will you go back after completing the game to locate them all? They’re questions we’ll leave you to answer, but they won’t be motivating us to do so. There are multiple endings to discover that might tempt us to go back, though. And a wealth of achievements/trophies that might be missed the first time around.

Reveil review 2
Image: Pixelsplit

Playing on PS5 for review, Reveil is a good-looking game with solid performance. On the audio side, while the game’s soundtrack and general sound design is impressive, the voice acting of Walter leaves a lot to be desired. He just sounds too chipper considering his wife and daughter are missing and his world has been turned upside down. Loading times are pretty good, too, keeping you immersed as you move from one area to another.

For much of Reveil we were worried that it was just going to be another bog-standard first-person psychological horror game, but it’s safe to say that its late-game twist saved it. And so while it’s not all that scary, and the voice acting of the main character somewhat ruins the atmosphere at times, it’s still very much worth a play if you’re a fan of the genre or just enjoy a good story that throws you a curveball.

Reveil review – GameSpew’s score

This review of Reveil is based on the PS5 version, with a code provided by the game’s publisher. It’s available on PS5, Xbox Series X/S and PC.
Editor in Chief // An avid gamer since discovering the wonders of the Acorn Electron in the '80s, Rich has nearly played more games than he's had hot dinners. Not one to put all his eggs in one basket, Rich is happy to play games of all genres, but he particularly enjoys racing games and anything that's full of non-stop action, especially if it includes a good dose of humour, horror or crudeness!