Apparition is a horror game touting the ability to speak to and summon evil spirits, take pictures of them, and leave with your gathered “evidence points” that give you access to further equippable items. Did I mention there’s a Ouija board? The mechanics of Apparition can be a little confusing, but are still interesting nonetheless, and the atmosphere that the sound design and jump scares cultivated left me tense and ready for more.
The game originally was slated for full release on Halloween of this year, but the developer decided to cut it back to Early Access to pad things out with extra story and more polished mechanics, stating that they wanted to make sure those said mechanics were clear enough for gamers to follow. This resulted in a cheaper game at $9.99, though they have not stated what the full game will cost. It might be a good idea to snag this one early, Halloween or otherwise.
Apparition starts with a voiceover of a investigative journalist informing us about Green Creek, a fictional haunted forest plagued by disappeared tourists and the work of a serial killer named Plague, who has yet to be caught. Our journalist has the opportunity to bring along such things as a camera (necessary to collect evidence points by taking pictures of demons, blood, and body bags), a lighter and candle, and a staff with a skull on it that’s supposed to protect you from evil. I didn’t see it work, personally, and I kept scaring myself with the blasted thing as it slid upwards from the bottom of the screen and leered at me.
Things can be a little overwhelming at first, with so many different mechanics to learn, a bag full of equipment, and a crafting system to be utilized (that I always died before I could make use of), but doing so is worth the effort. There’s even a mechanic that I misread (throwing rocks away from enemies to get their attention) and thus battered a few monsters with rocks (there was GREAT collision, I’ll give the developer that) before I realized that simply wasn’t working, which actually turned out to be a fun humorous aside to lift the tension for myself.
Objects in the environment changed at seemingly set intervals, giving us a picnic table and then a little camp with a tent made from animal furs, along with a campfire that we’re intended to use for our Ouija board communications. The Ouija board itself is actually quite interesting; you can find pre-written clues in the environment to refer to and ask, but you can also type in questions yourself, probably to allow speedrunners to skip picking up all the little slips of paper hidden in the environment. The board was also certainly spooky, and occasional background noises that you can’t look up to investigate put me on edge.
One major positive are the monster designs, of which there are multitudes of interesting demons to attack you or loom threateningly in the distance through the trees, and the sound design, which constantly creeped me out with menacing growls. Not to mention the fact that the music clearly clues you in as to when you need to run from chilling demons, such as the spirit I labeled “mannequin woman with jiggly head and knife” who had to honor of taking my first life with that knife of hers. Yikes!
There are flaws in Apparition, of course, but I expect this with Early Access games. Controller support is abysmal, and the first time I booted up it reacted poorly, failing to load some of the UI in the main menu and freezing once I entered the game proper. My second attempt was more successful and I experienced no further issues going forward.
Apparition is an interesting take on the horror genre, one with few flaws and lots of positives. Given the multitude of bad games mucking up the genre, it’s refreshing to find one less janky and highly entertaining. Our character’s interactions with objects in the environment (written text only) were reminiscent of the early Silent Hill games in their tone, and the jump-scares were varied and effective. Any avid horror fan looking for a cheap distraction from life will enjoy being in a dark room with this eerie game.