Uncanny Valley Is a survival horror game that mixes exploration, puzzle solving, and even sprinkles in a tad of action throughout the story. You play as Tom, a troubled man who has seen some things and done some stuff, and now he’s decided to take a position working as a security guard at an off the grid robotics factory in the middle of nowhere. Tom’s only “friendly” contacts after reaching the facility are an overweight (and hilarious) cranky guard named Buck and an off-beat inn-keeper named Eve. While playing as Tom, you’ll work the night shift doing your rounds. You’re given a seven-minute time limit to explore the facility, dig through computer files, listen to left over audio tapes, and uncover the ultimate mystery of Uncanny Valley.
I won’t lie to you; it took me a minute to get into the game. With the choice system that was touted as a highlight that would exploit a variety of outcomes, I was expecting to have to learn a thing or two to make it through to the games “good” ending, but I was a little turned off by the lack of help that was provided. The pace starts slow, and initially, I was put off by the time limits. After the first night, though, the story starts to pick up, and I slowly learned how to manage my time. Even after my first play-through, I still felt like I hadn’t connected with the game. So I played through again, and again, and then once more. Each time I was met with a grizzly ending, and Tom must’ve been upset that I was his puppet master, but I also learned a new trick with each play-through and was drawn further into the story. Looking back on it now, I feel like most of my complaints were due to my ignorance of the game’s mechanics, and what I should be focusing my time on. Sure, Uncanny doesn’t spell much out, and it’ll take you some time to realize what you can and can’t interact with, but at the end of the day everything you need to complete Tom’s journey is at your disposal – you just need to work for it.
Now, when it comes to whether the game is scary or not, that’s probably best left up to you. At no point was I frightened, but there as an absolute underlying sense of dread throughout the story. Most of that, for me, comes from my appreciation of Tom’s character. I genuinely started to like the guy as I uncovered more of his past and the reasons why he’s gone off to this remote location to disappear. Tom’s night terrors play a role in the spookiness of it all, as he’s chased down by dark shadowy figures. There’s an anxiety to get away that was reminiscent of that yeti/abominable snowman/mother in law that chased me down the slopes in SkiFree. Not sure what I am referencing? Watch this at 40 seconds in.
The writing in the game is good, and I’m sure that has a lot to do with why I enjoyed Tom’s character, but something has to be said about Buck. There are sprinkles of Buck’s charming personality throughout the game, but in one scenario I ran through I was able to play as Buck, and I genuinely laughed out loud at how much of an ass he could be.
As much as I ended up enjoying the game, there are a few things that still bugged me throughout my time. As good as the writing is, I felt it was hindered by the games single line dialogue text that Uncanny uses during conversations with its characters, and also how pixelated the words in said text can be. I appreciated the novelty of it, but the slow pacing combined with the fact that I sometimes struggled to read what was being said started to grind my gears.
Luckily, my gears were always oiled back up by the aesthetics of Uncanny Valley. As much as the pixelated words annoyed me, I did enjoy Uncanny’s character models and the way the art design helped add to the creepy vibe of the game. Topping Uncanny off, and probably one of my favorite aspects of the entire game is its sound design. The melancholy melodies that the game serenades you with really establish the game’s tone, and pulls you into Tom’s uneasy new world.
Uncanny is a short game. My first play-through was only 20-30 minutes before I fell into one of the bad endings of the game. That time isn’t indicative of the actual length, though. On my other runs, I spent between an hour to two hours digging around and trying not to die. That said, Uncanny manages to fit a ton of stuff into those time frames, and it’s definitely worth the multiple play-throughs. For the games price, you just can’t beat the experience.
*Note: A copy of the game was provided for the purposes of the review
Final Score: 8/10
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