I really do hope, that in all the days I have left of this planet, I don’t end up ever hiding in a wardrobe, shivering and scared from a strange monster/human hybrid stalking around. You see, in many survival horror games – from the excellent Alien Isolation right out to Outlast – that’s pretty much what us gamers have been left doing, unable to fight back with ever-decreasing spaces to hide. Remothered: Broken Porcelain hallows from the same hiding, creeping, and running of other horror games, but does the game warrant the need to survive or is it all a quick, sudden death?
Broken Porcelain kicks things off with a recap of the experience that came before it – Remothered: Tormented Fathers; a game that was well-received back in 2018. If you have no idea about the first game, then this may all well come across as a bit of a blur, left unaware of who, when, where or what is going on. Even after that, hours later you may still be confused. But you know what? Let’s just go with the flow.
What you will understand is that you start out playing the role of Jennifer, who is staying – or trapped – in an old hotel, the Ashmann Inn. I couldn’t work out at first why she was dressed in Edwardian clothes when the game was set in the 1980s, but then the discovery is uncovered that she is working as a maid. However, all that goes to pot very quickly as the horror begins and you are left stalked by the equivalent of Annie from Stephen King’s Misery. And as with any horror title, if she gets you, it will probably mean death; you need to use all your wits to survive.
Even though I rarely really understood what was going on in Broken Porcelain, for the most part the narrative is good. Characters are strong, there is a real sense of place and dread in the location and history attached to the hotel, and it’s obvious that the team behind it have managed to create an interesting and strange universe that has a lot of promise. As a franchise, it’s a world that could well spawn loads of new content in the future.
The gameplay emphasis here is focused on survival horror rather than any combat, even though there is occasionally a little of the latter. You control things by wandering around the location, working a stealthy crouch mode when required, with your goal given to you across a series of objectives – simple stuff like hunting down a telephone or attempting to restore power to an area. There are some decent puzzles found in Remothered: Broken Porcelain and these are well put together, intertwined via a host of scattered clues. There are some pretty innovative yet strange gameplay dynamics that feed in, especially later on in the tale, but for fear of spoilers I’ll hold the full details to myself.
The main gameplay arena will see you being stalked by a pursuer, left to try and escape. There are a few ways of doing this: hiding in rooms and heading for the nearest wardrobe or locker, or attempting to depart from your attacker by crawling under objects before they get you, escaping to the other side of the room. As you’d expect, as your foes get closer they will try to kill you, and in Broken Porcelain it will only take a couple of hits before you’re left crawling and limping along. One more hit after that and, well…
One way of delaying the attacking aspect is to find objects around the locations. For example you can grab some scissors to work as a defensive counter-attack to buy you some time. There is also the chance to utilise distracting items – weird stuff like a creepy talking doll that when placed will draw the pursuer towards them, investigating the strange sound. It is then when you can attempt to make your getaway.
Broken Porcelain works well enough when you’re left wandering around, solving puzzles and exploring clues. But when things start to kick off and the action takes hold, the camera does at times go absolutely bonkers. It doesn’t know where it wants to be and at one important point – when I just happened to be involved in a vital confrontation involving life and death – it seemed to be inside my left elbow. I’d like to confirm that I didn’t survive that duel. And that’s the overriding feel of Remothered: Broken Porcelain – bugs and glitches. Hopefully things will continue to get patched going forward.
Visually, and when in-game things look good with Remothered doing a great job with the close-up shots, especially on faces where every wrinkle and expression is on show. The locations are good too, as are the details in the signage, furniture, and design. However, it is in the cutscenes where everything seems to be rushed, and occasionally you might find yourself flitting around to different locations in a room. It’s all a bit confusing.
As with any game of this type, the audio is key to your survival, no more so here as you need to be able to determine where your pursuer is at all times. The music goes from eerie and disturbing into a chase score when the attacker is near – a key indicator of danger that works well. The voice-overs are pretty good also, especially the deranged “Annie from Misery” who really dials up the creep.
If you’re a fan of survival horror then it may be worth adding Remothered: Broken Porcelain on Xbox One to your list. It delivers a decent, although frustratingly confusing, narrative that is complemented by some good stealth mechanics and the deliverance of an air of creepiness and horror throughout. However, the bugs are hugely annoying and for some it is these which will determine whether this game lives or dies. Personally, I think this would be a shame, because under the rough exterior lies a bit of a diamond.