By Richard Jewell
Reviewed on PC
Released on August 16th, 2016 on PC
Developer: Polyslash Publisher: PlayWay S.A.
You are slowly creeping down an empty spaceship corridor. Blood paints the wall beside you, a pile of viscera covers the floor, and the stench of death is in the air. Is it your own? A low, guttural growl sounds from somewhere in the shadows, followed by heavy, plodding footsteps. Phantaruk, the bloodthirsty avenger of the forgotten is coming for you. The smart thing to do would be to hide someplace safe for a while, wait for it to move on to another part of the ship, but for you that is not a valid option. You have been infected by a parasite, and it is slowly filling your body up with deadly toxins. You are left with no choice but to forge on and find a way to get off the ship before it is too late. Hell is not hot. It is cold and dark. It is the spaceship Purity-02.
Phantaruk is a survival horror/stealth game that takes place on Purity-02, a spaceship overrun by murderous clones and the game’s titular character, Phantaruk. The player must find a way to escape the ship before they succumb to the toxins of the parasite living inside your body, all while avoiding the multitude of enemies that roam the darkened corridors. In the distant future, a lethal strain of smallpox appeared and wiped out billions of people. In order to avoid a catastrophe of that magnitude from happening again, the H+ Corporation began researching ways of creating a new trans-human. By combining homo sapiens with advanced technology, and it was hoped that these trans-humans would be devoid of any biological weakness that regular humans possess. The Purity-02 was the H+ Corporation’s main research vessel until something went horribly wrong, and now its halls are filled with deranged clones and the implacable Phantaruk. Being stealthy is the only chance you have of survival.
The gameplay will feel familiar for those of you who have played any of the other games in the genre, such as Outlast or Amnesia: Dark Descent. You have no way of fighting back, so hiding is your only option. How visible you are to enemies is indicated by an eye icon in the corner of your screen. It lights up when you can be seen easily, and disappears completely when in the shadows. You can lean from side to side to check around corners to make sure the way is clear without completely exposing yourself. If you do, however, happen to be spotted, you have a limited duration sprint to help get you to safety. There is also a flashlight to help you navigate some of the darker areas, but it requires batteries to power and it’s not a great idea to have it on when enemies are around. A PDA strapped to your forearm is used to keep track of the character’s vitals. Health is dealt with in a slightly different way in Phantaruk. 85 is the base number of health your character has. Whenever you take damage, the number goes up. Once it reaches 200, you die. If you aren’t taking damage your health slowly returns to 85. I thought it was strange to use this method instead of the more traditional 0-100 bar most other games use, but it essentially works the same way and doesn’t have any negative impact on the game so no big deal. The toxin meter is what you really need to worry about. It starts off at 0, then gradually fills up over time, thanks to the parasite inhabiting the character’s body. Once it reaches 100, the screen pulses green and you have only seconds to inject yourself with a syringe before you die. Syringes found laying about the spaceship are the only way to keep the toxins at bay, but they are limited in supply. I find this mechanic quite useful for controlling the pace of the game, and it also increases the tension by forcing the players to keep on moving.
The atmosphere in this game is everything you would expect from a horror game. Dark confined spaces. Machines and engines humming and whirring in the background. The graphics and lighting effects are nice, while the game itself ran very smoothly and I encountered no technical glitches during my playthrough. My only bone to pick is the AI of the clones. Sometimes they would run at me out of nowhere, and other times I could run right into them and it still wouldn’t provoke them to attack me. Hopefully, the developers can tune up the AI a little bit in the future updates. Speaking of the developers, Polyslash is a small development team based in Poland. They formed back in 2015 and this is their very first game release. So far I’m impressed by their work. They have two more unannounced games in the works and I look forward to seeing what else they can do! The game took me about 3 and a half hours to complete, but there are still more achievements for me to earn so I still have some more playing to do. It may seem on the short side but at such a low price ($11.99) it’s easily worth the purchase. If you’re looking to scratch a horror itch, you can’t go wrong with Phantaruk.
*Note: A copy of the game was provided for review purposes
Final Score: 8/10
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