At Dead of Night: Scariest Game of the Year?

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Source: At Dead Of Night En Steam, store.steampowered.com/app/1450830/At_Dead_Of_Night/?l=latam.

By Iman Ahsan

Baggy Cat Limited’s new game At Dead of Night might just be the scariest game of 2021.

    At Dead of Night is a horror game that blends live-action and graphics which puts the player in a surreal yet immersive horror experience. The seamless blending of the CGI and FMV, along with the smooth animations and realistic AI makes the game highly impressive and makes the player feel like they’re actually part of the game.

    The game takes place in an old hotel called the Sea View Hotel, which is situated on a remote headland. It starts with a brief live-action prologue where we meet our protagonist, Maya, who is a student checking into the Sea View Hotel after learning that her friends have all booked a room there for the night. We’re then introduced to the antagonist, Jimmy Hall, a man who appears to be a cheerful, talkative hotel worker. However, his chirpy attitude changes once Maya declines his invitation to attend the hotel’s midnight show, a comedy routine starring his alter ego, Hugo Punch. The prologue is short yet informative, giving the players an insight on Jimmy’s character and the purpose of the game. 

    When Maya discovers that her friends are being held hostage by Jimmy, it’s up to her to rescue them and escape the Sea View Hotel for good. On her mission to save her friends, Maya obtains a spirit box that allows her to communicate with the spirits of the hotel. Through her conversations with the ghosts, Maya learns that Jimmy possesses a dark secret, and it’s up to her to uncover his twisted past in order to save her friends.

    At Dead of Night is arguably one of the best horror games of 2021 so far. It’s not just another horror game with cheesy jumpscares, and it doesn’t follow the cliche trope of the “evil ghost lady”, which has become an increasingly popular trope in many horror games nowadays. Unlike the majority of first-person horror games, this is a point-and-click horror game, which makes the entire gameplay even more terrifying. 

    In this game, it’s crucial to pay attention to every little detail, especially audio. Certain audio cues like the creaking of a floorboard or the distant shouts of Jimmy can alert the player about his whereabouts. For instance, if the occasional taunt of Jimmy sounds rather muffled and difficult to understand, then he’s most likely on the other side of the floor. Similarly, if his taunts are loud and clear, then he’s nearby, and it’s probably a good idea to quickly get into a room for safety.

    Furthermore, the jumpscares in this game are actually quite terrifying. They’re so sudden that they catch the player off guard. The fact that this game is also a point-and-click is not helping either. However, the game provides numerous subtle hints about Jimmy’s whereabouts, which may help the player avoid some jumpscares. For one, if the player stares down the end of the hall and sees a shadow move quickly across the floor, there’s a high chance that Jimmy is hiding behind the corner with his cricket bat, ready to strike the player if they head down that end of the hallway. Additionally, the jumpscares feel highly realistic. There’s no loud, distorted screaming, sudden music, or a shaking screen that plays during a jumpscare. The jumpscare is literally just Jimmy letting out a war cry as he bonks the player with his bat and knocks them unconscious. This makes the experience feel highly realistic and makes the player feel as if they’re actually inside of the game. 

    Speaking of jumpscares, a great thing about this game is that the player doesn’t die whenever Jimmy catches them (except in the final sequence in which getting caught by him results in a game over). When the player is caught by Jimmy, he will knock them unconscious and drag them to a random room. Unfortunately, there is a small price to pay in which Jimmy will always steal the spirit box and some keys from the player after catching them. While the player is able to get those items back, it can be a daunting task because they can get caught by Jimmy again, in which he’ll take away some more of their items. This can get frustrating very quickly and may also discourage the player from continuing because of how repetitive this becomes. 

    Something I found incredibly remarkable about this game was Jimmy’s character. Generally, antagonists in horror games don’t really play games with the player; they usually just show up out of nowhere and eventually retreat back into the darkness for a while before returning again. In this game, Jimmy is actually highly unpredictable and clever, which really makes the whole situation more immersive and realistic. For instance, if Jimmy enters the guest room while the player is getting inside of the wardrobe to hide, he won’t go and yank them out of the wardrobe. Instead he will hide in the bathroom and wait for the player to leave the wardrobe and head for the door before attacking them. This makes the whole horror experience more interesting and makes Jimmy feel more animated and unique rather than just a typical horror antagonist. 

    While this game is terrifying and immersive, it does have its flaws. Personally, I feel like the game was dragged out much longer than it needed to be. While the main objective of the player is to communicate with the ghosts and figure out what happened to them, this task becomes incredibly hard because of how clingy Jimmy is. The guy is practically everywhere, and trying to make a break for the elevator or stairs can be a really tedious, heart-racing task because you only have a brief moment of peace before he’s on your tail again. The majority of the game is spent hiding from Jimmy, especially on the third floor of the hotel.

    While the lower ground floor, ground floor, and stairs act as a safe haven from Jimmy, the other three floors aren’t. In this game, the floors almost act like levels. The first floor is bigger, and Jimmy isn’t always nearby. The second floor is dimly lit, making it incredibly hard to see, and Jimmy seems to be a bit quicker on this floor. The third floor is incredibly tedious because Jimmy just seems to be everywhere on that floor, so the player is usually spending more time hiding on that floor rather than communicating with the spirits. 

    Additionally, despite Jimmy’s cleverness in hiding, there’s sometimes no way to tell whether he’s hiding in the bathroom or not. It’s really just a win or lose situation, and this can get frustrating later on because getting knocked out by Jimmy constantly really hinders the whole solving the mystery process. 

    While the game had a strongly developed plot and was well-paced, the ending felt a little bit rushed. However, the readers can decide upon that if they choose to play the game. 

    Despite the few flaws of this game, At Dead of Night is definitely worth your time. The game is accompanied with phenomenal acting, great graphics, and the gameplay is thoroughly enjoyable and incredibly well-done. The characters in the game are well written and feel realistic, which makes the overall experience feel immersive. 

    If you’re a fan of a good mystery and don’t mind being hunted by a man with a bird’s nest for a head, then At Dead of Night is for you. 

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