REMOTHERED: TORMENTED FATHERS Review
Despite its Wiki’s ambitious claims of being “long-awaited,” I’m fairly convinced that I was one of a slim handful of people that had the tragically titled REMOTHERED: TORMENTED FATHERS on their release radars for 2018. Unless you share my affinity for watching horror trailer compilations on YouTube when it’s 2 AM and you’re deep in your cups, you can’t be blamed for not having checked the calendar for when Italian developer Chris Darril’s debut brainchild would finally hit the Steam store. Darril has kicked around the spookier corner of the video game world for awhile now, landing art department credits on indie deep cuts such as DREADOUT, NIGHTCRY, and FORGOTTEN MEMORIES: ALTERNATE REALITIES. If nothing else, Darril’s tenacity in seeing REMOTHERED through to the end is well worthy of commendation, as its decade-long development process had several setbacks and only found its second wind in the past year or so. Long story short, it’s easy to root for both Darril and his game, and while it doesn’t knock the ball out of the park, there’s something inescapably endearing about the whole effort that carries it across the finish line.
Dr. Rosemary Reed is a 35-year-old woman that initially introduces herself as a doctor from the Santa Margherita Institute. We meet her as she’s visiting the house of Dr. Richard Felton under the guise of delivering an update on the mysterious illness that has rendered the good doctor on death’s doorstep. However, we quickly learn that she’s really there to search for more information on the disappearance of Celeste, Felton’s adopted daughter. While we’re unclear at first why Reed has such a personal investment, she is Hellbent on getting to the bottom of the story. Of course, when Reed sneaks into Felton’s mansion after hours after being turned away by his housekeeper Gloria, we soon realize there’s something much more secret and deadly underfoot.
How I greet Postmates
Considering the facts that the aforementioned FORGOTTEN MEMORIES wore its SILENT HILL 2 influence on its sleeve (featuring original voice actors from the game), NIGHTCRY is considered one of CLOCK TOWER’s many spiritual successors, and THE EVIL WITHIN composer Nobuko Toda’s presence in REMOTHERED is heavily touted, Darril makes no efforts to hide the fact that he doesn’t shy away from the familiar. This ultimately contributes to a certain plateau in thrills and chills as the game wears on, especially since some of its narrative twists are genre tricks as old as time, but the bottom line is that fans of survival horror are going to find something to enjoy. This sort of purist stab at it hasn’t been seen in quite some time, at least in an iteration that makes any effort whatsoever in terms of production value, and as soon as the lights go off in Chez Felton and Ol’ Dick is trying to tear you apart with his gardening equipment, it’s hard not to get swept up by the demonstrated care and passion Darril put into having his baby recreate the formerly beloved atmosphere of a subgenre severely out of vogue.
As far as villains go, REMOTHERED has a strong cast. Richard is a menacing antagonist that is just vulnerable enough that you stand a chance of escaping his clutches if you press your buttons right, and the game does a solid job of giving you just the right amount of hiding spots to batten down the hatches and wait for him to lose interest in pursuing you. While the first act was a little long for my tastes, featuring too much same-y backtracking and interactions with Richard that became less intense since the toolkit for one-upping him was firmly in my grasp, more antagonists get incorporated as time goes on, all of whom are much more intimidating.
My “O” face
That being said, while still entertaining, I have to put on my horror fan hat and dock REMOTHERED for never feeling scary. While the conceit of the Red Nun, a second-act assailant that even Richard lives in fear of, is quite frightening, she’s still only used for your standard survival stalker fare, despite the fact that there’s something clearly supernatural about her. As for Richard, I continually kvetched that there was nothing to be afraid of. Whether it be the fact that he’s in his birthday suit apart from an apron, his rather comical exhortations of annoyance that someone’s creeping about his mansion, or the fact that he sounds like a bargain bin version of Mark Hammil’s Joker, it feels comparable to one long struggle with the janitor from WHITE DAY, which doesn’t have the pants-shitting terror of paranormal enemies to balance out its more corporeal threats.
Well, sort of. Our esteemed gaming editor and I were split on REMOTHERED’s latter half, which takes a nosedive into pulp. A standout segment as far as I’m concerned takes place in a severely haunted version of Celeste’s uncovered room, and the two final boss fights had me on the edge of my seat hooting and hollering, but the mythos does admittedly become convoluted and it almost feels like an entirely different game. But then again, I can report from the trenches that I was much more enraptured by the twists and turns ripped from the Hitchcock and De Palma playbooks as the game races to its end than I was from the slow-burn sleuthing of its early stages. I’d advise you to not think too hard about how the REMOTHERED timeline logically connects its individual parts, but after the oddly touching final scene rolls I can tell you that I’m still curious about just who Rosemary Reed is, what the interviews with a seemingly unrelated old woman that bookend the game have to do with anything, and learning more about the mystery of Celeste, so I think that’s pretty much all that can be asked of the first installment of a series without the big guns behind it.
Give us a kiss love
Which, ultimately, is virtual reason alone for giving REMOTHERED a spin. Any way you slice it, it’s kind of cool that Darril and company were able to bring this project to fruition, especially with development so ahead of the curve of AA gaming’s big return. While the graphics occasionally fail to hold up under careful scrutiny, it’s refreshing to see that an effective no-name creator and studio can release something so fully-realized with enough hard work and effort. While I would still steer you in the direction of the $12 DETENTION over this any day of the week, REMOTHERED comes in at a cool $15 price tag, which its six-to-seven-hour playthrough earns. As such, I can’t really think of any definitive reason game-aware horror fans shouldn’t scrounge together the cash to give it a spin. It’s not like we’re ever getting ALLISON ROAD, so why not? Let’s hope the sequels come up with better titles, though.
Reviewed on PC