Just Ignore Them is billed as an 8-bit psychological horror point-and-click adventure game. Sounds good, right? But after playing through it, that descriptor is only about half-right. The game is certainly a point-and-click game, and a solid one at that, but there’s only a tiny bit of ‘horror’ involved. Most of the game is distinctly lacking in it. And unfortunately that seems to be a common theme with Just Ignore Them. It’s lacking in a lot of areas: the plot is poor, any sense of atmosphere is often missing and the sound design is mediocre.
The story concerns Mark, who has been haunted by monsters since he was a young child. His mother tells him to ‘just ignore them’, but things don’t end up going so well, leading to Mark setting out to find some answers as to why these monsters are following him. Various characters are introduced on his journey, including one who you get to play as for a significant portion of the game.
It’s a potentially intriguing story and to be fair the game starts off strong. The first act is great, with an atmosphere that is certainly ‘creepy’. The darkness and silence of the house, accompanied by the loud noises and laughs that play at certain sections kept me on edge the entire time. And the house is full of monsters just waiting to kill Mark. One wrong move, like choosing to go to the toilet or opening the microwave, means you’ll end up being something’s dinner. It’s a tense experience and should have been the perfect set-up for a scary game.
However, it all comes crashing down rather quickly. The rest of Just Ignore Them is not nearly as good as the opening act. One reason is that the plot ends up becoming needlessly convoluted and increasingly difficult to follow. It doesn’t help that the game is poorly written as well. The dialogue feels bloated, and inconsequential at times. And you have to sit through lines and lines of inane chit-chat that ultimately add nothing to the story or the atmosphere. At times, you just want to skip through it, but can’t for fear of missing out on a crucial bit of story.
The other reason is that the rest of Just Ignore Them fails to keep the atmosphere, tension or horror from the first act going. And it’s mainly down to the sound design. It’s beyond mediocre and even non-existent at times. You get the odd piano riff and some ambient sounds here and there, but the game is quiet for long periods of time. And not in the ‘silence is intended here to make the situation creepier’ way either. Even worse, some of the audio that does play ends up producing the opposite effect. Arriving at the motel, for example, feels like you’re playing some kiddie’s adventure game because of the music. The end result is that Just Ignore Them ends up being a horror game without the horror.
The game has two possible endings – a ‘good’ ending and a ‘bad’ ending – and they are influenced by the choices you make through the game. There are also a few hidden cassette tapes to find that can be listened to through the main menu. These things provide an incentive to play through again and are certainly nice to have, but they don’t add much to the overall experience.
Aside from the first act, Just Ignore Them manages to get some other things right too. The gameplay is solid, and the game nails the fundamentals of a good point-and-click adventure (minus the plot). The puzzles contained within are challenging, but not overly so. Most are logical, and Just Ignore Them promotes some out of the box thinking by allowing you to combine items. The game also encourages exploration and by doing so you can affect proceedings later on. For example, one piece of information you can find in the first act can open doors at the very end of the game.
And if you’re in the market for a simple 1000G, Just Ignore Them is perfect. But then did you expect anything less from Ratalaika Games? Every achievement is really simple, but you should also take note that you will have to play through the game twice and see both endings for the full completion. All told, you can expect to be done and dusted within a few hours.
Don’t get me wrong, there are things to like about Just Ignore Them on Xbox One. Its first act is brilliant. The puzzles are challenging, but not to the point of frustration. The achievements are easy. But ultimately, there are just too many issues for me to recommend it. Story is so important for point-and-click adventure games, and Stranga Games have failed to make a compelling one. Shoddy writing and convoluted plot points spoil what is an initially interesting premise. And there is a complete lack of atmosphere, which calls into question Just Ignore Them’s status as a horror game to begin with.
Unless you’re looking for some easy Gamerscore, just ignore it.