Otherworldly is a horror game that tasks players with crawling the depths of a randomly generated maze, collecting treasure and finding their way to freedom. There’s bits of Amnesia and Slender, both very well respected titles in their own right – but despite this prestiged inspiration, it doesn’t quite reach those heights.
I don’t usually like to kick reviews off with negativity. It’s better to do the old compliment sandwich format – “it did this well. This was bloody awful. But this was pretty cool”. Try as I might, I just can’t find any redeeming features in what little Otherworldly has to offer. There’s a maze that looks utterly indistinguishable from any generic RPG, some grating stock sound effects, and a lot of walking around in the dark. You do not feel hunted or pursued at any time. It’s more like trying to walk home from the pub with that annoying pissed mate everyone hates who keeps stopping to look at every kebab shop on the way.
As you progress through the random mazes of Otherworldly you’ll be stalked by skeletons, screeching creatures that freeze in place when you turn to look at them. These undead horrors are somehow not the most bare-bones thing about this game, though – it’s an unremarkable, uninspired pastiche of generic “scary” elements thrown into a blender and blitzed into paste.
On more than one occasion, I wandered into a room, unaware one of the spooky scary skeletons was pursuing me. I must have turned around just before it delivered the killing blow, and thanks to their Weeping Angel style of movement, I was pinned between the wall and the skeleton, unable to move, unable to even look far enough away from it to trigger my own death. I was questioning everything then – was this a feature? Was this some kind of real meta horror experience, where my character would be trapped until he starved to death between an unmoving, impassable foe and an extremely brown wall? I’m not sure it even counts as a bug – just poor design, through and through.
Without a way to push them back, the skeletons become more of a frustrating, game-breaking obstacle than a legitimate fear. They’ll frequently block the entryways of tiny rooms, trapping you inside and forcing restarts. They even get in the way of the game’s more mobile threat, creating barriers between the player and Otherworldly’s more tangible threat. Maybe they’re just trying to be friendly. Maybe they’re massive trolls. It’s hard to say, and even harder to enjoy.
Somebody once said, “if you haven’t got anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” That person clearly never had to try and deliver constructive criticism for a shovelware title with mechanics and atmosphere done a hundred times better – for free, no less – countless times over. There are better ways to spend £6.99. Get a couple of coffees. Buy ten DVDs from a charity shop. Or just draw the money out and throw it straight in the bin for an experience much like Otherworldly, without actually having to play the goddamn thing in the first place.