A few months after its initial release for PCs, The Suicide of Rachel Foster is now available on consoles with a release for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. We played the PS4 version for this review.
I remember the PC launch of Daedelic’s game and thinking back of their legacy of publishing some excellent adventure games. The game’s announcement also made me think of a bunch of horror movies with things like “The Haunting of” or “The Possession of” in the title, and now that I’ve finally been able to play it on a console I suppose the end result lies somewhere in the middle, although the heavy-handed subject matter will not appeal to everyone.
The Suicide of Rachel Foster isn’t a horror survival or action thriller kind of game, but rather a walking simulator that resembles games like Gone Home – with fairly linear progression through the plot and a limited amount of traditional gameplay mechanics. You pick up a few items here and there, but most of them serve a very practical and narratively-fueled purpose, like a flashlight for when you need to see better in the dark or a sensitive mic that helps you pick up noises.
All of that is to help you uncover the mystery behind (you guessed it) the death of Rachel Foster. Your protagonist, Nicole, travels to a hotel that her family owns after her father passes away in order to complete the sale of the place, but trapped by a snowstorm she becomes entangled in a dark story that is helped along by phone calls with Irving, a man who works for FEMA and talks you through some of the things that are happening.
Wandering around the hotel evokes memories of movies like The Shining, and thanks to some moody lighting and excellent sound (headphones are recommended) this is a very atmospheric game that creates tension even though you’re wandering around a place that’s been left empty for a while, which is no small feat and doesn’t just rely on some supernatural elements.
The story content itself, and how the narrative is handled, is controversial though. Without spoiling too much, it revolves around an inappropriate relationship that Rachel Foster was in and it’s a topic that should be handled with velvet gloves when taken on. This game doesn’t do that, and ultimately will leave players feeling uncomfortable and a little creeped out by the narrative rather than the well-realized environments it unfolds in.
Ultimately, that’s a shame, because as a take on the cinematic supernatural thriller genre this is a finely crafted experience in the audiovisual sense. All it needed was a more nuanced plot, but at least that means I’ll be eager to see what the developer (One-O-One Games) will do next.