Modern indie horror games often carry a number of not very pleasant features: they abuse unnecessary jump scares for the sake of screams, the action is often isolated within the framework of some frankly small and not very well-developed “mansion”, and the gameplay usually lacks any balance between riddles and frightening moments. Check the Don’t Be Afraid game review below.
Since the days of Outlast and Amnesia, it has become a good form for horror to turn them into a kind of “brick factories”, when after an unexpected screamer you run away from another pursuer and, trying to make out something in dark locations, try to calm your heartbeat and do at least something- then meaningful.
This approach to the development of horror games was taken up with great pleasure by independent developers, which to this day continue to release the same type of games in significant volumes, the sole purpose of which is to test your nervous system. Remarkably, Red Barrel and Frictional themselves, the developers of Outlast and Amnesia, respectively, have long since departed from their own canon. Red Barrel in the second part of Outlast abandoned the classic horror visuals, focusing on the repulsive abomination of what is happening and the allegorical plot. Frictional already in Soma shifted the emphasis towards the depth of the plot, continuing to develop in this vein to this day.
But according to the templates left by the founders, dozens of games continue to be made to this day, among which there are quite a few frankly weak projects designed more likely for streamers and accidentally lost players. And just recently I stumbled upon a project that at first glance does not look very interesting and does not stand out in anything, but in fact, is quite an interesting game that is very easy to miss, and now I am talking about the horror Don’t Be Afraid dedicated to the fate of a boy, which by his own stupidity fell into the clutches of an insane maniac.
Don’t Be Afraid Game Review
The most important feature of Don’t Be Afraid, in my opinion, is the almost complete absence of screamers. Yes, there are sharp moments in the game, but they are predictable and do not frighten at all. However, at the same time, Don’t Be Afraid is not just a thriller or just a dark quest, this game is scary and does it very competently.
A feature of the game is the way that part of the gameplay is built here, which is responsible for the emotional state of the player. You are not frightened by the events themselves, but by the fact that the environment is always built in such a way that you constantly expect some kind of mean thing from the game, and that in return loves to direct you exactly to the place where you least of all would like to be in the world right now.
For example: at the very beginning of the game, the main character is locked in the same room with a very unambiguous-looking monster, which is fixed with chains. And pretty quickly the game returns you to this room so that you can remove the fetters from this very monster with your own hands. Plus, the design of the location is built in such a way that if a monster rushes at you, then there will be absolutely no place to hide from him.
And it is precisely on the overwhelming expectation that something terrible will happen now that the horror Do Not Be Afraid is being built. The game constantly forces you to go where instinct tells you not to go. And it does it correctly, it designates potentially dangerous places ahead of time, but only in order to then direct you there without any alternative. You constantly understand that the game, savoring your helplessness, deliberately turns you on, for example, to a room with only one exit or to a dark corner with limited visibility. Moreover, the locations are built in such a way that you are not afraid of something specific, but the environment itself has the most overwhelming effect.
A number of interesting details play on the atmosphere, this is a huge number of mannequins, which are always passive, but some of them can deprive you of a source of light. Further, the game has a manner of moving objects and opponents in those moments when the player is not looking at them.
A striking example from the beginning of the game is the same shackled monster, which is not clear when it will start to move, and whether it will move at all. which are always passive, but some of them are capable of depriving you of a source of light. Further, the game has a manner of moving objects and opponents in those moments when the player is not looking at them.
There are also chases. And by themselves, they are made exactly as it should be in indie horror – the pursuers are wooden and often wander in the locations themselves. But this technical flaw always pulls out the attention to detail. For example, there is a seemingly classic chase from a girl without a face, but cymbal monkeys are scattered all around that are triggered at the moment the player approaches them, and the only shelter is a room that looks like anything, but not as a saving harbor.
The second nice visual feature is how competently all the scary moments are lined up in time. I’m just talking about the very balance between relaxation and action. Yes, even in moments of rest, the game tries to keep the player in suspense, for example, Don’t Be Afraid loves to bring the player for quest items to a place he is already familiar with, but add some noticeable detail there that will certainly alert the player.
The clearest example of this approach is the doll in the TV room. The player enters the room turns on the TV, then suddenly a doll appears behind him with a ball in his hand. Incidentally, one cannot fail to note the design of the doll itself, which closely follows the player. Then, at some point, the player who was accustomed to the doll hears a pop, it’s the same ball that burst. And this really scares, but not with abomination and harshness, but precisely with how competently the moment is verified. And now you think that I just allowed myself a spoiler for such an interesting moment? No, I just haven’t fully described this moment to you, and the most relish with this doll is yet to come.
And it is on such a competent approach to the atmosphere, to the locations and to the timings that the horror in Don’t Be Afraid is built. Yes, the game does not always keep you in suspense, sometimes you accidentally get off the hook, not hitting the timings thanks to which the game scares you. Also, the game can not always draw your attention to the detail with which the next horror moment begins to unfold, but this is still much more interesting and better than just a set of screamers, behind which there is neither atmosphere nor plot.
I’m not talking about this game as a new word in the genre. Rather, here we are talking about the fact that the people who made the game tried to turn on their fantasy and tried to do something more than a “brick factory” or “quest with screamers.”
True, there is still a couple of fly in the ointment. Firstly, the developers from Hydra Games failed to completely get away from excesses in the quest component of the game. The game almost always explains quite clearly what to do in a given episode and how. But sometimes the developer apparently could not resist the temptation to turn the horror into a quest with pixel hunting and at these moments the game sags. This does not happen often, but it does happen. So there is a moment with a spear, which must be found and turned. So, to begin with, at this moment it is not very obvious that we need to find the spear, and secondly, it is so unsuccessfully located that the developers, even at the request of the players, moved it, however, they managed to move it from one unobvious place to another.
And the second unpleasant feature is the graphical execution of the game. Its appearance does not at all correspond to how interesting this game is in terms of everything else. I think it can be clearly seen from the screenshots/videos. And the first ten minutes spent in the game, when you see how ugly it looks, can deceive the player into convincing him that this is another uninteresting horror quest.
In the industry, the opposite phenomenon is more common, when the game looks very nice, but at the same time, in terms of atmosphere and plot, this game could clearly be worked out much deeper. Notable examples of this approach are Those Who Remains and Moons of Madness. And if the visuals of the aforementioned games were combined with the atmosphere and gameplay of Don’t Be Afraid, then it would generally be a great horror.
One evening, an eleven-year-old boy named David sneaked out for a walk while his mother dozed off on the couch. There he meets a stranger who turns out to be a brutal masked maniac named Franklin. The psychopath Franklin puts David in a basement and makes the boy “play” by his own rules.
Actually, this is the whole plot concept. David will have to go through a rather extensive network of tests arranged by Franklin. Along the way, we naturally learn a little more about what is happening. We have to go through a rather variable path through a rather impressive building and get acquainted with its inhabitants, half of which are the offspring of a certain Badtrip, and the other half enjoys this very Badtrip.
The game has three endings and, despite the short total duration, something about three hours, the game has at least one replay.
Yes, the plot touches on a very unpleasant topic, but at the same time, it is made exactly according to the canon of B-Movie, where there is no place for revealing precisely the heavy emotional background of what is happening. There are events here that just happen, no additional emotional burden on the player is relied on. In general, the game in concept and even partially visually resembles Saw 3. So, if we continue this comparison, the plot Don’t Be Afraid is the plot of Saw 3 from which all the worries and torments of choice that the protagonist has to endure have been removed.
In the gaming industry, it often happens that there is no interesting game behind a beautiful picture. Much less often it happens the other way around, when an interesting game is combined with unsightly graphics. Don’t Be Afraid is a prime example of a visually repulsive but otherwise well-made game. This game can hardly be called perfect, it is just good. But against the background of the general stagnation of indie horror as a genre, the game looks very interesting.
The game has something to offer outside the canon, and I would recommend this to those who are looking for an interesting horror. Yes, at first, Don’t Be Afraid will seem unattractive to you, but here the developers also tried to move away from the hateful canon and make their game a little different, which for me is the main value of these projects.
I hope you liked our review of the thriller-horror game Don’t Be Afraid. You can buy the game here on Steam.