I’m a sucker for survival horror. A dark atmosphere where you play as a character that struggles to survive the worst imaginable situations. Usually you play as a character who is unlucky enough to find themselves in a world filled with terror and danger. Fear seems programmed into us, and nightmares are proof that our sub-conscience often gets overwhelmed with a blanket of unknown discomfort. Hearing a random noise or walking down a dark path makes us nervous. Thoughts corrupt us, warning that something bad could happen. A horror game must exploit this natural instinct and not only make us walk a dark path, but prove our hesitation was accurate.
In The One We Found, I can say the goal was somewhat accomplished. It did the job of causing at least a little bit of anxiety and unease. However, it does not play well and is a little confusing when it comes to the story. In fact it plays so badly that you really just want to finish the game quickly to get it over with.
Here’s what I liked:
The Horror — Being a huge fan of this genre, I can appreciate some of the design choices with making things scary. There is an absurd amount of darkness that surrounds each environment and you must keep your flashlight powered up with batteries that you find scattered around. There are some pretty gruesome things you’ll walk by and almost be cautious of thinking maybe something will jump out at you. The normal zombies are quite boring, but I will give props to the poltergeist-like woman who hums and glows red. If you get too close, her song stops and she rushes for you. At this moment, there is a frightening sound that happens which will most likely jump scare you the first time you hear it. You know immediately that you’re in danger. This isn’t an enemy you can kill, so it makes you extra nervous when they are around. While creeping through the vents you will also discover a horrible monstrosity. It almost looks like Golem searching for his precious ring. He must think you have it because once you’re spotted, it’s incredible difficult to escape. You’re crouched, moving slowly, and you can only move the opposite direction. This usually ends in death, making you need to restart the level you’re in. This adds to the tension which is absolutely what a horror game has to have.
Horde Mode —As an added bonus, there is an additional mode that you can play which may remind you of zombies from the Call of Duty series. As you kill waves of enemies, you gain points that allow you to purchase weapons and ammo. You can upgrade them to increase damage (which you’ll need) and bloat your magazine size. It’s nice to be able to lay waste to your enemies without worrying about saving ammo. The headshots feel pretty good and are satisfying. There aren’t many levels and only one I really enjoyed, but it’s better than not having it at all.
Here’s what I didn’t like
Movement — Your sensitivity is set to what many games would have as the highest setting. You cannot change this. It’s just way too fast. Aiming at an enemy can be a burden and most likely you’ll just have to use strafing and proximity to your target in order to kill them. Shooting them accurately is a mess because the bullets don’t seem to register a hit. You can shoot them with a full clip and nothing happens unless you reposition and let the zombie move a little bit. This really hinders the enjoyment of killing zombies. You can sprint but will be fatigued after your short jog. Recovering your stamina takes quite some time. While there aren’t actually that many zombies to kill, you will be running around a lot searching for items to solve puzzles. The stamina then becomes annoying, as you get frustrated from having to constantly pause to wait for the recovery to happen. It’s not very fun when you’re just wanting the experience to be over with.
Layout — From the beginning, you will witness a poorly-done level design. You explore an extremely dark area, fumbling around looking for a flashlight and a key. When you finally figure out where to go, the next chapter gets worse. There is an elevator that leads down to an enemy that cannot die. Nothing besides this ghostly figure is down there, but you don’t know that. You don’t have enough information to realize not only can you not kill it, but there is no point in being there. I died several times: shooting it, running from it, and finally giving up even riding the elevator except to grab a gun. You get one in the next chapter anyways at the start. It just makes no sense why this design choice was implemented. And yes, I think the ghostly singing enemy is by far the best feature in the game, but I just wish it was introduced in a more clever way. Maybe even later in the game. The zombies afterward seemed dull and cookie cut everywhere. I wanted to spend more time in the asylum, but a good portion of your time will be spent underground in an uncreative cave system. The asylum has its creative moments, but in the end it’s just a small area you’ll revisit and see nothing new.
Inventory Management — There are too many steps involved with managing your items. You can’t easily equip your weapons. It becomes a real chore to switch weapons and use batteries for your flashlight. What’s worse is if your inventory is full, things you pick up just get instantly destroyed. This becomes a problem when you’re picking up key items like a fuse. In one mission you need four of them and if you’re not careful, you’ll be full on inventory and destroy the items you will need. You then have to restart the level because it’s impossible to complete it. You might not even realize this has happened until you get to the end of the chapter. It can be quite discouraging to continue on.
Indeed, I was a sucker for this horror game. It could very well be the worst one I have ever played. Still, that fan inside me kind of enjoyed it. I have to respect the attempt, as if another fan of the genre had decided to make their own version based on previous titles they’ve played. Unfortunately, that’s all it has going for it. I cannot recommend this game because it was poorly done. Everything about it is a disaster. From movement to the clunky item management system, it just doesn’t work smoothly.
Score: Limited Appeal
The One We Found was published and developed by Loveridge Designs on Xbox One. It was released on October 31, 2018, for $19.99. A copy was provided by the publisher for review purposes.