If you make a purchase after following a link on our site, we may earn a small commission. Learn more.

The Glass Staircase

The Glass Staircase review – PS2-inspired horror

Good girls take their pills. Good girls do their chores. Good girls get to go home. That’s the mantra repeated to you as you play The Glass Staircase, the latest Puppet Combo release to make its way to consoles. It’s perhaps the most ambitious yet, too, being inspired by PS2-era horror classics such as Silent Hill 2 and Italian Giallo cinema. If you’re a horror fan, that alone should be enough to pique your interest.

With its fixed camera angles and tank controls, those familiar with the likes of Resident Evil and Silent Hill will feel right at home here, gameplay-wise. Put in control of multiple young girls living in a dilapidated orphanage, you’ll find yourself going through a routine. There are pills to be taken and chores to be done, but soon enough you get the impression that something isn’t quite right.

Rather than laying all of its cards on the table from the outset, The Glass Staircase is a bit of a slow burn affair. It builds up tension, letting you explore the orphanage in relative safety while taking in its creepy ambience. But then there’s a twist and the game really opens up, truly becoming survival horror.

The Glass Staircase review body 2
Image: Puppet Combo

There are items to find to allow you to progress, notes to read that flesh out the narrative, and tense boss fights where it’s all about finding time to plant your feet and getting a couple of shots in before repositioning. And in the final act, all hell breaks loose, truly putting you under pressure. Still, it’s a brief experience – you’re likely to be done with The Glass Staircase in anywhere between 90 minutes to three hours depending on how thoroughly you explore and how frequently you encounter issues.

Related: The best, and scariest, horror games on PS5

Despite being inspired by horror classics of yesteryear, The Glass Staircase does deviate from the typical formula in numerous ways. Your weapon, a rifle, for example: you have infinite ammo, so you don’t need to be frugal with how you use it. Your use of health packs is a bit out of the norm here, too; as you don’t have a usable inventory, you have to use them there and then. Add in a checkpoint system rather than a manual save system, and you have a game where you’re at the mercy of the developer.

The Glass Staircase review body 1
Image: Puppet Combo

It’s here where the game falls down, actually. While the checkpoints are mostly fine, The Glass Staircase could really do with one being added in its final hair-raising act to reduce some frustration. And when it comes to combat, the aiming system really leaves a lot to be desired. Lining up a shot can be really fiddly, and the auto aim setting doesn’t really help all that much, either.

Still, in the grand scheme of things these are likely to be considered minor issues by most. In any case, what matters most is that The Glass Staircase really is an unsettling experience that genuinely harkens back to the glory days of survival horror. Throw in a Yamaoka-esque soundtrack that further adds to the tension, and you have a title that horror fans should certainly consider picking up to occupy a dark and stormy night.

This review of The Glass Staircase is based on the PS5 version, with a code provided by the game’s publisher. It’s available on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Switch and PC.

The Glass Staircase review - GameSpew's score

The Glass Staircase
7 10 0 1
Inspired by horror classics such as Silent Hill 2 and Eternal Darkness, The Glass Staircase is Puppet Combo's most ambitious release yet. This surreal and atmospheric experience will keep you on the edge of your seat for the entirety of its brief playing time, though checkpointing and aiming issues may frustrate a little.
Inspired by horror classics such as Silent Hill 2 and Eternal Darkness, The Glass Staircase is Puppet Combo's most ambitious release yet. This surreal and atmospheric experience will keep you on the edge of your seat for the entirety of its brief playing time, though checkpointing and aiming issues may frustrate a little.
7/10
Total Score

We like...

  • Genuinely atmospheric
  • Unsettling soundtrack
  • Classic survival horror feel

We don't like...

  • Checkpointing issues
  • Aiming isn't great

Similar Posts