Horror is one of my all time favourite genres, and so Silver Chains had me interested from the first time I saw the trailer. A first person horror/survival game, you play as Peter, a young man who crashes his car near an old manor. Seeing a light on in the window, you approach to ask for help. After all, what could go wrong?
Upon entering the house, you find it almost entirely abandoned, leaving you to search the manor thoroughly for help, as well as finding out the truth of what happened in the manor. Puzzles are littered throughout the manor, as well as secret passages and locked areas that you need to find and return to.
If you’ve seen any cult classic horror film, or played any similar horror games – can you think of any games with a spooky residence? – Silver Chains will feel very familiar to you. It doesn’t just lean on common horror tropes, it’s also filled with easter eggs and references to beloved horror worlds, which only serve to enhance the gameplay with a twinge of nostalgia.
The derelict manor is filled with clues, showing you the way to progress fairly clearly without leaving much mystery in figuring out where to go next. Because of this, Silver Chains was actually surprisingly easy to progress through. Not only that, but the manor itself was easy to navigate, with each floor having a distinct feel. Backtracking is essential in Silver Chains, so being able to easily work out where you are without a map was essential, and something the game pulled off very well.
Despite exploration being a key feature of Silver Chains, you can’t interact with a lot of the world around you, only with the things that will progress the game. This limitation does remind you a bit too much that you’re playing a game. When I play immersive games, I try to interact with every little thing on the screen, and the lack of depth created from the largely non-interactive world took away from the gameplay; it made exploring a lot less intriguing.
The controls are simple enough to pick up and play, but they are really quite sensitive. Often they would take me further than I wanted. A delicate touch helps, but getting too immersed in the game would actually pull me out of the experience when the world was literally spinning around me. It wasn’t so much an issue, but just a little aggravating.
Aside from exploration, your other main action is hiding. Closets, rooms and other small nooks are dotted around the manor, giving plenty of opportunities to hide when needed, and you will need to. There were no fight sequences at all, only hiding montages. Considering the reliance that horror games often have on gore, this was a welcome surprise. Poorly done fight sequences can often detract from an otherwise great horror game, and truth be told, if you were trapped in a demon-filled manor, would you fight or flee? I know for a fact that I would hide as quickly as possible and hope for the best!
Of course we can’t avoid all of the horror tropes, and one particular trope was featured quite often in Silver Chains, and that’s jump scares. A lot of jump scares. If you’re used to horror games they are somewhat expected, but a fair few genuinely made me jump, getting my heart going like crazy. I’m usually pretty unreactive to jump scares, so having even one that made me visibly react was truly impressive. I often had to put the game down for a bit and calm myself down with a cup of tea.
The character designs were incredibly detailed and well constructed, but once again relied heavily on well-known tropes, making the designs far too predictable for my liking. The influences were obvious, and while the designs were good, they unfortunately didn’t feel original.
The artwork and score compliment each other well, with the artwork having a clear influence from heavy metal bands, as well as again referencing cult classic horrors. Everything has a macabre undertone, making the creepy demons and clues feel even more threatening in-game. The morbid atmosphere that was created only made the world more intriguing to explore.