We regularly like to shine the spotlight on newly released ports of existing games, now or soon gracing new platforms and reaching new players. This time, we’re checking our survival horror with Song of Horror, jungle survival with Green Hell for PlayStation 4 and the upcoming PlayStation release of The Falconeer.
Song of Horror (PS4)
Horror games typically come out in droves come October, and although we’re only getting Song of Horror on PlayStation now it was originally released (in an episodic format) back in October of 2019 alongside games like Luigi’s Mansion 3 and the MediEvil remake. Song of Horror has much more in common with games like Daymare 1998 though, as it channels the classic survival horror atmosphere of the early Resident Evil games.
In Song of Horror, an illustrious writer goes missing, and when someone is sent over to his house to find him, things quickly descend into madness and terror. Things are unsettling from the start, but it doesn’t take long because a supernatural entity manifests itself and claims another victim who is now unable to leave the house.
This is where the episodic origins of Song or Horror begin to shine through, because you can then select who you’ll play as during the next chapter of the game. This doesn’t really change the narrative course of the game, but it does make for a clear division between chapters and a bit of replay value. Each chapter is two to three hours in length, so at its price point Song of Horror represents plenty of value for money.
Atmosphere and tension are key concepts in the game, and you constantly need to listen out for sounds that are out of place and might signal upcoming danger – which can be challenging in a house that is naturally home to all kinds of creaks and squeaks. Once the entity finds you, hiding is your best option, which requires controlling your breath and staying calm – naturally stressful in a situation like that.
Channeling its inner Resident Evil, the game will also have you looking for keys and items you’ll need in order to progress, including a few light puzzles. Combine that with changing camera perspectives (and the sometimes awkward controls that come with that), and you’ve got a nice throwback to some classic horror gaming – and perhaps Song of Horror was initially overshadowed by the fact that Capcom also started to value this with their Resident Evil remakes.
This also applies to the audiovisual presentation of the game, because although the environments in the game have all been crafted with a keen eye for detail and a lovely sense of atmosphere thanks to some good lighting effects, the character models are less impressive in how they’ve been animated and the amount of detail when you view them up close. The voice acting fares in a similar way, but it’s perfectly functional and it does feel unfair to judge too harshly by comparing it against Capcom’s big budget takes on the genre.
For horror fans, this is a game from a smaller team you won’t want to miss. It’s not the next Resident Evil, but like Daymare 1998 it taps into a classic vibe that’s hard to resist.
Green Hell – now on PlayStation
I’m happy to admit that the survival genre more or less passes me by, though every now and then there’s a title that grabs me and won’t let me go. Subnautica hit home, and now I can add Green Hell to that list. After a 2019 release for PCs on Steam, it’s now arrived on PlayStation with a PS4 version that also works just fine on a PS5. And although the previous console release for the Switch had me worried I’d be playing a subpar version of the original PC game, it didn’t take long before I became really invested in Creepy Jar’s jungle survival tale.
Whenever I get invested in a survival game, it’s usually because of the story, and Green Hell has you being ripped away from your wife as you’re trying to conduct research in the Amazon rainforest. Besides the narrative, the beautiful environment immediately made me forget about my “Switch worries”, as Green Hell is filled with lush vegetation, animals that bring the area to life and gorgeous lighting effects. It’s also overwhelming at first, because this is an actual jungle without proper roads or directions for you to take.
A GPS watch is your friend here, as is the map you brought. The watch also functions as a smart device, giving you feedback on how to stay well nourished – or at least alive. It’s a smart way of not filling the screen with menus or indicators on a HUD, and makes for an immersive experience. Food usually isn’t of the premade variety either, so you’ll have to prepare what you find – and that will take resources. Sure, you can choose to hunt animals and eat them raw, but that’s not the healthiest option. Instead, you’ll want to build a fire, but you’ll need resources for that as well. Inventory management is important, but as with the watch you’ll deal with this through your backpack rather than multi-layered menus.
There’s a fair bit of experimenting in Green Hell, at least if you’re as ignorant about how to survive in the wild as I am. Some flowers and mushrooms have healing powers, but unlocking them to even learn about it is another story – and as with most activities in the game, you can mess it up as well. When you finally learning what does what it really feels like you’re starting to master this almost alien environment though, which is part of the brilliance even though it takes a while to kick in.
That kind of gameplay is tough, and it’s part of why I lose interest in a lot of survival games, but Green Hell has the narrative element going for it as well – and as long as the difficulty level isn’t cranked up too high it provides a great counterbalance for wanting to give up. Experienced survivalists can opt for the game’s “survival mode” as well, but the story mode was more my jam so I stuck with that. I’m still not a natural when it comes to survival games like this, and Green Hell is a lot harder and less streamlined than Subnautica, but it’s definitely a great addition to the PlayStation library.
The Falconeer soars to new platforms with a Warrior Edition
This one’s not actually out yet, but it was too exciting to ignore. The Falconeer, the breathtaking aerial combat game from solo developer Tomas Sala, is heading to the PlayStation 4 and 5 (as well as the Switch) in August. What’s even better is that it’s coming with a host of improvements as well as all of the post-launch DLC content released to date, as well as brand new content dubbed the “Edge of the World” pack.
We’ll take a more detailed look at the Warrior Edition once it launches alongside the new content, but we’ve already been able to go hands on with an early build on the PlayStation 5, and it’s already looking great. Besides the obvious improvements in resolution (the game supports 60 frames per second at 4K), what stood out as equally impressive was the DualSense support. When the game launches (on the 5th of August, to be precise), that’ll give players a whole new way of connecting with their warbird. Our early impressions included the kind of haptic feedback you’d expect when firing weapons, and it’s impressive, but we’re hoping that the game will use DualSense tech to also make players feel the transitions between weather conditions, for example.
We’ll certainly check back in with the game when it gets closer to the release of the Warrior Edition, when we’ll focus more on the included and newly added DLC content. For now, mark August 5th in your calenders.