Ah the Shakhter-One, a beacon of light for humanities future. Earth’s resources are drained, and this ship could be the key to saving us once it reaches Jupiter. Though the trek is risky and lengthy, someone has to do it, or else the rest of human kind as we know it may be doomed. Will you step up to the plate and become a part of the crew? Of course you will! Thank the stars above, because we could really use a pilot like you. We assure you, you won’t regret it. You. Won’t. Regret. It.
Hollow is a first person horror-action game developed by MMEU and published by Forever Entertainment. Releasing in November of last year on Steam, it recently released on Switch amidst a wave of other fan favorite horror titles like Outlast and Layers of Fear. Surely Horror would be able to hold its own against the similarly styled titles right? Wrong. The game is sadly a mess in more ways than one. While the others are quality games and apparently quality ports, Hollow is neither, being too reminiscent of its name and falling ill to having great ideas with poor execution. And I mean poor. I could not even stomach it to see through the end, both because of how rough and heavy handed it plays but also because it is a mentally exhausting game to play. While this may seem harsh, if you played it yourself, you would deem it fair. Let’s dive in a bit more as to why I think Hollow left much to be desired.
Hollow continues the trope seen often in horror titles of dropping you into a sticky situation, with your character having some memory issues. With not much knowledge of himself outside of knowing he is a pilot for the Shakhter, your character searches around for answers and a way to continue on. At this point, I am intrigued. I am always down for a deep space scare, and the grainy aesthetic made me feel immersed as if I was in an eighties alien flick. I was also excited because this wasn’t your typical stealth and puzzle type horror game, but more akin to a Resident Evil 7 style experience that allowed you to fight back. That excitement for both the gunplay and the aesthetic was quickly flushed out of the airlock as I got more familiar with them. For one, the gunplay is both sloppy and very heavy. Sluggish may be a better way to describe it, as it’s hard to line your shots up accurately and even when you think they are, they still might miss. Movement in general feels this way as well. Running is a laugh, as it’s kind of just a power walk, and actual walking feels like a crawl. Enemy’s animations are reflective of this too, as they are really choppy and poorly displayed. They run towards you, but slow down when within a certain a range, and watching it play it out changes the imagery from scary to concerning.
When it comes back to the visuals, I lost hope on something I initially appreciated. Murky and dark went from bad to worse when these nightmare-esque hallucination scenes kicked in. These scenes usually came about for bigger combat scenarios. As enemies piled towards you, your screen was now welcomed to an orangish-red overlay that only worsened the visibility, and to top it off, some of the most exhausting audio tracks I have ever heard play on an obnoxious loop until you find the exit point of the scenario. Now I know most points like this in games have looping tracks, but these are just plain bad. They are nearly maddening, shooting off droning noises that repeat incessantly every three to four seconds. It made me feel nauseous, and that’s not what I want from a horror title. I want to be nervous, scared, and most importantly thrilled but I was stuck feeling like I was doing a chore sadly. The gun and enemy sound effects are also bad and bland.
It is a damn shame that Hollow is so disappointing because it has a lot of potential. From a killer setting and potentially cool aesthetic, to the potential to have some great action, just nothing really clicked. Instead we were treated to a spooky spaceship covered in adolescent smut, with nudie pics scattered and posted about the ship (not to mention the main enemy too is naked, with breasts on full display.) The map is awful to navigate, and the flashlight is far too bright, drowning out anything that you try to view up close. These two things make the desire to explore non-existent, and with save stations scattered around and no checkpoints, the clunky combat will also keep you from stepping outside of your comfort zone. I don’t plan on seeing Hollow through till the credits roll unless a significant patch or two were to hit. It’s a shame, like watching someone with a lot of potential settle for less, it is just plain disappointing.
Note: A copy of this game was provided for the purpose of the review.
Final Score: 4.5/10
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