Clea is a side-scrolling skill-based survival horror game that focuses less on jump scares and more on the decisions you make during game play to create fear. It tells the story of a young girl, Clea, and her brother, Edmond, as they try to escape the Whitlock Mansion. The mansion has been overrun with monstrous Chaos Servants that hunt the siblings down as they run through corridors, collecting items to create keys that will hopefully lead them out of the mansion and to the truth about their family.
The game uses a typical run-and-hide format. As you walk through halls, you come across closets to hide in and rooms that sometimes hold diaries, notes, or items. You can peek under some doors to see what’s directly on the other side, which comes in handy because Chaos Servants and other enemies sometimes lurk behind the doors, waiting to trap and kill you. If you’re spotted by an enemy, there’s two options: run and try to get through a door, or hide quickly and wait for the enemy to pass.
There’s also key puzzles for each level. As you sneak through areas, you’ll collect pieces to make keys (along with other items, such as candles to repel enemies and potions to heal Clea’s “scars”) that can be used to open the doors that lead to the next area. These keys have to be put together in the right pattern to open the doors, so make sure to pay attention to the door designs!
One of the only frustrating parts of the game is the lack of areas to save. In order to save, you need to have a candle and happen upon one of the very few cakes – which function as save points – hidden throughout the corridors. Candles are as few and far between as saving spots, and if you use them to ward off enemies (only good until you leave a room, by the way, so it’s not worth it) don’t expect to save your game.
Originally released last year for the PC, this Switch edition retains the same stylized, anime-like graphics, and I particularly like the design for Clea and the fact that you could pick from numerous designs to accentuate her as you like. Enemies have equally good design though aren’t particularly scary-looking, but boy do they give you a bad vibe when you spot them. The sound design is also incredibly well done, from the excellent voice-acting to the music to the sound effects of creaking doors and growling enemies. These elements really help layer on the eerie feeling of the game.
Clea has just about everything you could want in a game like this, thanks to a compelling and chilling plot of family secrets, science experiments gone wrong, and dealing with inner demons. The game play is fun, with a good mix of puzzles and high stakes hide-and-seek, and it’s enough to lessen the frustration of having almost no save points between levels. Even though Halloween may already be behind us, this is the perfect title to keep you riding the spooky high just a little while longer.