Games that are influenced by old-school experiences from the late ‘90s have become incredibly popular over the last couple of generations. Part of this popularity is the hope of recapturing that feeling you had when you first played Silent Hill or Resident Evil. Well Injection π23 ‘Ars regia’ is hoping you will get that same warm feeling when playing, as we get the chance to dip into the latest of a trilogy. Get ready to strap in for some old-school gaming and some very old-school gameplay.
Injection π23 ‘Ars regia’ is a survival horror game that requires you to explore your surroundings, crouch a lot and run away from the terror that is stalking you around every corner. Set in the real Spanish town of Malaga, Injection π23 ‘Ars regia’ has been put together by a solo developer, slowly building out a trilogy of these games and following from Injection π23 ‘No Name, No Number’.
The story puts you in a place of mystery. People are missing in this village in Malaga and you are wandering around trying to find out what has happened, but also why horrific creatures are hunting you. It’s a hard opening for the game because after a well-crafted cutscene opening montage you only get more of the story later on as Injection π23 ‘Ars regia’ progresses. It can feel a bit bewildering at first, and it would be a shame if that put a few people off. But also it’s a game in which you are rarely given all the answers and narrative beats on a plate, but rather you have to search for them through notes and clues. You can then have your conclusions as to what is happening in this desolate Spanish village.
The gameplay feels very much like those older classics like Silent Hill; walking through town as everything is slightly out of focus or foggy. You can run through the town but you have a gauge that comes into play whereby the monsters that are patrolling can hear you; it’s here where you’ll have to go into sneak mode or utter sprint mode. It should always be the former – as you will fast learn to your peril.
The world is one that is delivered via in-game panels that appear, showing you what controls do what. You see on your map where you might need to go, some doors are locked, in need of items to make them open. Then there are a series of simplistic puzzles to solve in Resident Evil-styled rooms. It borrows from loads of games of that era, but it can still be too easy to get lost in the world as you go on the hunt to find items, and generally work out what the hell is going on.
But saying that, there is something in Injection π23 ‘Ars regia’ that will have you hooked. Maybe it will be the clever nostalgic feel of the game that brings back memories, or perhaps the narrative that you have to work out, trying to decide what is happening as progress is made. It’s a world that – even with clunky controls, strange use of every type of camera angle, and dark areas – is intriguing enough to keep you going.
Visually and Injection π23 ‘Ars regia’ has a brilliant sense of opening, with a well delivered cut credits scene that’s like something out of a horror blockbuster. The colour palette tends to go towards a dark green hue throughout which while atmospheric also gets a bit samey after a while. The character’s models are good though, and the creatures themselves are nightmarish enough to make you think about how you don’t want to have them in your dreams. The soundtrack is excellent and works brilliantly with the creepy world on offer.
You may want to switch Injection π23 ‘Ars regia’ off, the lack of direction is a tad annoying and the nostalgic world on offer may feel a bit of a turn-off. But carry on playing through and you’ll realise that the hooks grab you, taking you into a game that is engaging and intriguing throughout.
The fact that Injection π23 ‘Ars regia’ has been put together by just one person blows my mind so that deserves some credit and it’ll be interesting to see how this franchise progresses in the future.
Injection π23 ‘Ars regia’ is available from the Xbox Store