With spine-tingling sounds, pixelated baddies, and macabre-galore, Cowardly Creations’ 2015 release of Uncanny Valley on Steam was a throwback to 1990s horror survival. Survival depended upon raw instinct and limited resources. Like its Steam sibling, the recently released PS4 version of the game wraps exploration, puzzle solving and a bit of action in a retro flavored package that seems enticing on the surface but may be rather underwhelming.
Uncanny Valley introduces players to Tom, a security guard who lands a job in a company with terrible secrets from a past crisis. The game is divided into two main parts. The first being the discovery of the area as a security guard, exploring the power plants found in the factory and the apartments. The second part is the true blue survival portion where players encounter enemies thrust into their path.
Possibly the best – and the most harrowing – quality of the game is that it runs on a system of consequence. Every action players take affects the outcome of the game. In fact, the game itself gives a forewarning that multiple playthroughs are recommended, as experiences and outcomes may vary. However, there will be only one save game file per playthrough, meaning players can’t go back and undo whatever has been done. Every action counts!
The music and sounds in the game are eerie and are, hands down, one of the game’s most defining features. They convey just the right amount of discomfort to raise the hairs on the backs of players necks, giving them a sense of hesitance before they turn the wrong corner. The 2D pixel art is pretty pleasing to the eye as well. Every pixel comes together to form beautiful scenery in a mosaic-like result.
Possibly the absolute worst thing about the game is realizing that each shift is only seven minutes long, where players are expected to pick up clues and attempt to solve puzzles. If players don’t hurry back to their room at the conclusion of a shift, they’ll pass out on the floor and enter a dream-like state. These nightmares are actually of no consequence to the story itself and are rather inconvenient since they don’t seem to serve a purpose. Another disappointment is the length of each playthrough.
Gameplay clocks in at about one to one and a half hours total. An advantage is that it gives players time for multiple playthroughs as recommended but it may be disappointing to realize just how short those playthroughs are. Cowardly Creations’ Uncanny Valley is atmospheric but lacking on the side of truly meaningful elements that add to the story. The experience, even with multiple playthroughs, is overall eerie but not truly overwhelming.
This review is based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.
Spooky but super short
Story - 6/10
Graphics - 7/10
Gameplay - 6/10
The 2D graphics are pleasing to the eye and the music and sounds are unsettling and eerie, but the game’s brevity can make it a rather underwhelming experience.