Play With Me is a new Horror Puzzle game made by AIREM and IQ publishing that just released on Steam and I would like to share my thoughts on this escape room indie adventure.
Back in the day we used to get lots of adventure horror games with puzzle elements in them. Nowadays, horror and puzzle games have once again started to go hand in hand. Recently the guys from AIREM and IQ Publishing released Play With Me on Steam. It is an escape room game with horror elements that was inspired by movies like Saw, so please allow me to share what I learned during my time with the game.
The game starts with a car accident in which you find yourself being taken away by a mysterious figure, and are given a small set of details that guide you through your identity. You are a journalist that has been writing articles about a mysterious serial assassin called “Illusion”
When you wake up you find yourself in a room with not only your hands in shackles with a digital keypad, but your wife that was in the car with you has disappeared. You must free yourself from the shackles and get out of the room so you can save her.
As you advance in the game you find more information about who you are as well as who this mysterious figure is. I’d like to say more, but in order to save from spoiling anything, I’ll stop here.
Making the best of the elements on hand
Being trapped in a mysterious place is scary in itself, everyone has those basic fears, and as you grow up you tend to forget them. But Play With Me has a way to play with your primal fears by testing your senses thanks to an excellent setting and sounds that amplify our imagination. The game even recommends playing with headphones and a microphone for an optimal experience, which I also recommend.
With that being some of the best the game has to offer, it uses them very well.
Play With Me gives you some basic tools in its setting through the images presented, and each one has numerous things hidden within them. All the while the sounds work to the fullest in order to bring out those primal fears we all have.
Many Horror games like to stick with jump-scares or a fight that is clear, present, and right up in your face. Well, the guys from AIREM decided to play with Anxiety instead, which is a whole different beast. It is said all of us have a bit of Anxiety in us because it is the fear of what’s to come. You can’t see it, you don’t even know if it is there, and you often make it worse by imagining the worst. Play With Me takes anxiety and brings it to 11. What’s best is it doesn’t need to create it for you, rather, it fuels the sparks that are already inside of you with the sole fact you know you are playing a horror game.
Play With Me makes this clear from the beginning of the game with a simple message:
“Just because you can’t see something, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist”
Playing with you as much as you play with it
But how could we forget one of the main aspects of the game? While most escape room games are easy enough to play, this one has a high difficulty from the start. Which isn’t a bad thing at all, in fact, I love that it gives you the tools and it’s up to you to manage how to use them. Which is sometimes a problem with escape room games, it’s just to darn obvious how to solve certain puzzles.
The game even changes every time you play it, so once you’ve found out a way to progress it won’t be the same the second time around. Not to mention you quickly find out you are not alone. Illusion is somewhere in this place, and you are given audio queues in your surroundings that can sometimes be a stiff knocking or the sounds of footsteps in the distance.
The game is not afraid of playing with you as much as you play with it. Silent Hill Shattered Memories anyone? Jokes aside, AIREM and IQ publishing placed some nice details with bugs crawling, rats screeching, knocking on the walls, etc.
Distracting yourself from the fear
As I said above, the anxiety this game puts you through is superb, and people handle that in different ways. The ways in which we fight fear are numerous and varied, some will sing songs, some start counting numbers backward, some breath in and out. With Play With Me, you can use one of the most commonly used sources I have seen in the real world; playing with your cell phone.
This cell phone has a battery, and while it may offer no way to call to the outside world for help, it does have Snake! Oh, and a version of Galaga. Remember How many of you are old enough to remember that?
This allows you a little escape from the main game for just a while or as long as you keep the battery alive. Needless to say, this doesn’t cancel the outside sounds or the fact you are still trapped. But hey, a little escape from reality never hurt anyone. Plus I must confess in games like Play With Me I really appreciate the little things these games have to offer.
The thing is, the anxiety is still on the edges of your senses, and some people can really appreciate this sort of tool, although, for me, I rushed through the game with my most faithful tool, my love for puzzles and mysteries. While the difficulty spike on some puzzles can be bothersome, it’s nothing impossible to solve, and I invite everyone to try them.
My first playthrough I managed to make it to the end in two hours and forty minutes. Which is quite long for a game of this type, and I must confess I had a hard time in the beginning. Even though subsequent playthroughs change how you play the game, I still managed to get through the rooms quite fast. The atmosphere was great, and while I can’t share the ending with you due to spoilers, I must say that the game still has some nice surprises left for me. Not to mention I can always be faster.
The audio was exceptionally done and was one of the best features of the game that really drew you into the atmosphere. The visuals may not be new or all that impressive, I think they were the right choice.
“I can’t think of a better man to draw Dick Tracy than Chester Gould, who’s certainly no match for Leonardo Da Vinci. But Chester Gould told the story of Dick Tracy the way it should’ve been told. No other guy could’ve done it.” Jack Kirby
I believe AIREM made Play With Me the way it should have been. It’s good, enjoyable, it’s nerve-wracking, and while it may not be that long of a game, it’s worth playing. For the $10 price tag, I think Play With Me is a nice addition to your Steam collection and is the kind of game you enjoy once, and you can later challenge your friend to try and see if they have the skill to make it through and beat your time.
With the proficient use of the tools they had, the developers spun the visuals and sound to work in a wonderful harmony to bring out the tension and anxiety to create an atmosphere that brings you back to those feelings of dread knowing something is coming. But you’ve got no way to advance other than by walking through that door. So are you ready to take on the challenge of walking through the room knowing it might be your last?
I know I did. And hopefully, all of you will enjoy Play With Me as much as I did.
Review Code provided by the publisher.