REVIEWED ON: Steam
The last time I had a chance to play an FPP game from IMGN.PRO was when they released Kholat back in mid-2015. It was a nice indie survival horror game that actually gave me chills in the middle of the summer, and it was nice having Sean Bean in my ears for the narrative. Ever since then, I've been waiting to see how the Polish game publisher would follow up that title up, and we finally got our response this month as they teamed with Undead Scout to release Husk.
The story puts you in the position of a man named Matt, who is traveling by train to see his father in the fictional town of Shivercliff, Washington with his daughter Ann and wife Ellen. Your father, by the sounds of things, was an outright dick to his kids and led a certain kind of life that isn't spoken of much. But now he's dying and would like to spend some of his last moments seeing you and your family. You doze off for a second and wake up to find the train abandoned, only to watch it crash and you somehow survive unscathed. You make your way into town seeing it just as abandoned as the train. You're now on a mission to find your family and figure out what's happening around you.
Husk's gameplay is a mesh of cool mechanics tied to clunky controls. Starting with the mechanics, you have the ability to interact with objects and collect them as needed, however, there's no inventory to monitor. You'll pick up a flashlight near the start, but it's clear it runs on batteries that you'll need to conserve. You have the ability to zoom in and out on objects to read and inspect them better, but most of the time this doesn't help. The only time this ever helped with any detail was to show me the year on a train ticket. You have the ability to run, but you grow tired if you do it too long, adding in a sense of realism to your health.
The controls are what mess a lot of the good stuff up. Operating it on a keyboard has everything laid out in an order that doesn't make sense, even though most of it is close together. Plugging in a controller doesn't help much as it feels backward to other games of the same genre. When you do finally pick up a weapon and run into an enemy, the attacks are a mess and you end up dying half the time to restart at the last checkpoint. There are genuine moments in these encounters where it feels like a game that was rushed to meet the deadline. Luck has more to do with your victory than skill, and that's not an inviting trait when you're facing off against the first enemies you encounter.
The design of the game is pretty cool as the town has a great creepy vibe to it. There's artwork everywhere that will make you question the rising talent this town's art scene has to offer. The shadowing and lighting effects are well done for the most part, but then there are moments where it doesn't play off as well. There are moments in this game where I felt like I was suffering from glaucoma, which happens no matter what your settings are for the visuals. I couldn't tell if there were pieces of the game that were meant to be blurry or if the graphics were just poorly rendered. There was a bunch of lens flare effects that just didn't need to be here, especially in a town where most of the lights are off or flickering.
The last aspect that caught me off guard was the music and how well-timed everything fit into what was happening. Whoever put together the soundtrack for this game was careful to set the mood in every aspect, from the subtle piano track as you enter an office to the casual big band music on radios. It reminded me of Silent Hill games without all the weird depressing feelings that follow you around everywhere you go. In fact, a lot of Husk feels like an homage to Silent Hill 2, even the quiet monologues to yourself as you curse your dad for inviting you here.
Husk is an interesting little adventure with a story that went in a very specific direction that (spoiler free) I didn't expect to go down at all. Above all else, the story is the best aspect to everything here, and in any other circumstance, this would be an awesome game that deserves a lot of praise. But it's just got too many elements going against it in the controls and the overall tone to make it stand out. As if all the greatest intentions were hampered by some issues that could have been fixed with some extra time. Maybe if they release some updates to improve the gameplay this might be worth it, but for now, it just doesn't hold up well beyond the appearance of an indie title that was rushed.