Thursday, October 24, 2013

Michelin Game - The Occupant Review

With Halloween just around the corner, it's little wonder that a number of horror games are being released this week. Indigo Lake, which I have just reviewed is probably the scariest game on the iOS platform. And now, we have The Occupant.

Written and developed by a 2-man team, it is based off the Unreal engine and the game itself has a very simple premise.

Instead of the sandbox environment of Indigo Lake, the game is set entirely on a floor of what looks like an abandoned apartment building.

The action is seen via a first person view, and the controls are very FPS like, with a touch joystick on the left and a touch to look view on the right side of the screen. Very straightforward.

The game is divided into 20 short challenges, and as the game progresses, the challenges can get increasingly difficult. The playing area consists of mainly rooms, chairs, books and other forms of house furniture like TVs and phones.

Spooky Atmosphere

Each challenge has you basically running away from the title character of the game, which resembles some sort of alien like creature, into a lift to complete the stage. Before entering the lift, you will need to accomplish some tasks.

Initially, this involves simple things like picking up objects and throwing them, but as the game progresses, the tasks get tougher and will get you to also break down obstacles by throwing objects at them, or slowing down the Occupant by throwing specific objects at it.

Picking Up Objects

Picking up objects simply require you to move your main cursor near an object and tapping the center text to carry it. Throwing just requires another tap to hurl it in the said direction. Other than that, there is very little else to the controls and everything else resembles a traditional FPS move/look nature.

There is only one map for all the challenges, though you are always randomly spawned in a new stage, so there is a slight variation every time you begin a new game. Every challenge has to be completed within 10 minutes, and as it gets closer to the time limit, your flashlight will rapidly dim, giving you a real sense of urgency.

The Occupant

Most of the time, the suspense comes from trying to pick up the required objects and trying to avoid the creature from behind. Sounds simple, but the real genius of this game is the execution of the gameplay. The movements are not lightning fast, and it takes into account the weight of the objects you are carrying.

If you are carrying heavier stuff like chairs, your speed will significantly reduced, and you can feel the creature closing in via the static TV lines appearing onscreen. In fact, when the Occupant is just upon you, the colors on the screen will fade to black and white, which is a cool touch.

Unreal Engine

The developers have also cleverly used a CCTV inspired look to the proceedings. The timer actually looks like it comes from a CCTV monitor, and the static lines give a very realistic touch as well.

The Unreal engine has always provided many gorgeous looking games on iOS, and this one delivers as well. Rooms, walls and objects are all very well designed and rendered, and everything moves at a very smooth framerate.

The Occupant, itself is very well drawn and animated, and whenever he is getting near, that visual impact of the combination of fading to black/white and the creepy animation is actually quite harrowing at times.

The sound effects are minimal, but yet they are very well placed. I particularly like the sudden phone rings or the surprising turning on of the TV sets as the Occupant walks past them. It almost gets me every time that happens.

As for the challenges themselves, the first few levels are simple enough. But as the game gets deeper, it gets suitably harder and whilst it is somewhat repetitive, the great atmosphere and the excitement of being chased is still pretty addictive on its own.

The Occupant feels very much like a 3D horror update of classic Pac Man, infused with a Slenderman look and feel. I actually think this is a better game than Slenderman as there are more things to do and interact with. And, at least, you get to hit back at the Occupant, albeit temporarily.

The game may be more claustrophobic than say, Indigo Lake, and the storyline almost non-existent. Yet, somehow, The Occupant is still a wonderful addition to the horror genre for iOS devices.

In the final summary, The Occupant is every bit just as fun as the best iOS games out there. The heady mix of great graphics and atmosphere, infused with some genuinely exciting gameplay makes The Occupant a game that is more than highly recommended.

A superb first person horror action game of the highest order. And not just for Halloween season.

The Occupant
US$0.99 - Click here to download.

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