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The Glass Staircase Review

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Hear the word ‘orphanage’ and rarely does it conjure up happy thoughts. But they are certainly places we are used to hearing or reading about, with the first founded in around 400 AD.

Nowadays we see these institutions as places where horrors have occurred, from the real ones to that of fantasy. The Glass Staircase creates an old-school horror experience with some retro looks. Oh, and it comes with those love-them-or-hate-them tank controls…

The Glass Staircase review 1
Looks like nothing could go wrong…

The Glass Staircase is a survival horror that takes place in a huge manor estate that is doubling up as an orphanage. The game plays out over four days, and on each of these you play as one of four girls trying to work out why they are there. Each girl takes a pill at the start of the game and then is instructed to complete a task. As they progress they find out much more about the story and the truth of why they have been made prisoners. The game then rapidly ramps up in terms of tension and horror, with all the thrills and spills of a game of this genre.

I think the storytelling is excellent, especially in how it delivers a sense of dread and terror, all while being quite mundane at the same time. And the fixed camera serves as a great film editor of the story beats, working brilliantly as well. 

The biggest problem though is with the use of tank controls for the character. For those that can’t remember this control scheme, then you only need to look at the original Resident Evil games or Alone in the Dark to understand. It’s not something that I liked back in the day, and it’s not something I like now, especially after years of gaming, having to rework the brain into playing this way. It was that which dulled my enjoyment of the experience somewhat, even if I did slowly get used to things.

The Glass Staircase review 3
Okay, so there’s horror!

Another problem is that The Glass Staircase does seem very floaty at times, always getting caught in doorways or snagged on one thing or another. 

The Glass Staircase has combat as well; again, very much like a Resident Evil or Silent Hill. Thankfully the aiming and shooting is fine, much more capable, doing away with the issues I had with the moving sections.

There are puzzles too, fun to solve and fairly challenging. There isn’t anything here that will surprise you, but as a homage to those old retro survival horror games, The Glass Staircase is a masterclass. 

It does a great job visually too, especially in creating a scary ominous place to spend some time in. The lighting is great and the fixed camera angle is able to deliver a perfect cinematic feel to the game at times. You can also choose from a range of filters that let you switch up how things are presented; an old-time projector feel is a personal favourite. It’s decent soundwise too, doing a great job in keeping up the creepy vibes.  

The Glass Staircase review 2
Should you navigate The Glass Staircase?

With its throwback vibes, a great atmosphere and story, The Glass Staircase is well worth a play. It feels like a game ripped straight from the mid-90’s, but is still capable of driving its own lane. Personal problems with the tank controls dampened my spirits quite a bit, but others may feel different. There’s no doubt that the puzzles are great though, as is the inclusion of various visual filters. 

So if you want to go back in time, try and tackle The Glass Staircase.

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • Story and atmosphere
  • Old school horror
  • Puzzles
Cons:
  • Tank controls
  • Old school horror
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Puppet Combo
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Switch, PC
  • Release date and price - 24 May 2024 | £8.39
Gareth Brierley
Gareth Brierleyhttp://www.garethbrierley.co.uk
I am an actor and a writer. I act quite a bit on stage, a little bit on tv and never on tuesdays. I have had some of my writing published and have written for TV and stage. I have been playing games since they begun and don't seem to be getting any better.
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Story and atmosphere</li> <li>Old school horror</li> <li>Puzzles</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Tank controls</li> <li>Old school horror</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Puppet Combo</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Switch, PC <li>Release date and price - 24 May 2024 | £8.39</li> </ul>The Glass Staircase Review
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