claire

(Disclaimer: The copy of this game played was pur­chased by the re­view­er.)

In the spir­it of the Halloween sea­son, I want­ed to re­view a spooky game that I nor­mal­ly don’t hear on the tip of people’s tongues, but one that I feel de­serves the at­ten­tion of those who en­joy hor­ror games. Certainly in­spired by the Silent Hill se­ries, Claire is a 2D hor­ror game that has it’s faults. But that does not stop it from be­ing an en­gag­ing and at­mos­pher­ic time. Really nice art­work com­bines with some great sound de­sign to make it an ex­pe­ri­ence that if you are in for an hour then you are in for the whole time.

It’s of note that this is a re­view of Claire on Steam. The de­vel­op­er has re­leased Claire: Extended Cut on PS4 and Vita. This ver­sion of the game is not yet re­leased on PC.

Claire is a side scrolling ad­ven­ture hor­ror game that has its main in­flu­ences right up in your face. It’s not ultra-recent, be­ing re­leased in 2014 on Steam by Hailstorm Games, and it isn’t su­per long. It does of­fer the re-playability of al­ter­nate end­ings, which can help ex­tend the base game time. Expect four to five hours of ghast­ly wan­der­ing on your first time through — un­less you are just in sync with the map and room lay­outs right off the bat.

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Claire puts you in the shoes of the tit­u­lar char­ac­ter as she wakes up from a dream she was hav­ing as she was sleep­ing in a chair in the hos­pi­tal room her mom is stay­ing at. It doesn’t take long for things to turn south com­ing awake, and you will spend a good amount of the game not just find­ing the rest of your fam­i­ly, but find­ing out about them. You’ll find your­self ex­plor­ing two oth­er main en­vi­ron­ments be­sides the hos­pi­tal you find your­self in, and all are ren­dered in gross, dank, dis­gust­ing glo­ry.

As men­tioned, Claire is a 2D side scrolling game at its heart. The con­trols are re­spon­sive enough, as this is not a pre­ci­sion plat­former they don’t need to be su­per tight. This re­al­ly can be com­pared to a pared down 2D Silent Hill when it comes to game play (though not to bash Claire, it can’t reach Silent Hill lev­els of qual­i­ty in its sto­ry).

It also adds a bit of Amnesia me­chan­ics in that you also have an anx­i­ety lev­el to wor­ry about as well as health, and be­ing scared shit­less will make you lose health un­til you die. There are plen­ty of items around to help off­set this, as well as bat­ter­ies for your flash­light. You do have a lighter if you don’t want to use the flash­light or are out of bat­ter­ies. It re­al­ly be­hooves you to ex­plore in this game so you can be as buffed as pos­si­ble, and you also find notes to help fill the sto­ry, as well as find bound spir­its to help out.

That brings me to my main gripe of Claire, and one that I can see turn­ing off a few peo­ple try­ing to get into this game. While you ex­plore in 2D space left and right, your map is a top down. This can make it ex­treme­ly awk­ward to com­pe­tent­ly tra­verse ar­eas with­out con­stant re­fer­ral to the map. It gets bet­ter as you learn the ar­eas, but when the shit hits the fan and you have to run and hide from the bad­dies you WILL find your­self in ar­eas you didn’t mean to head into.

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I can un­der­stand if the 2D sprite style of the game makes it so some just won’t re­al­ly con­nect with the hor­ror. For those who can still get spooked and un­set­tled by pix­els as much as poly­gons, you are in for a treat. The faults in the game play are al­most made up by the qual­i­ty of the vi­su­als alone. It’s like some­one made SNES ver­sions of NIN mu­sic videos. I adore it.

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The mu­sic and sound also com­pli­ment the ex­pe­ri­ence, which cer­tain­ly serves it well since the de­vel­op­ers want­ed to pay hon­or to one of the mas­ters of at­mos­pher­ic sound de­sign. The sound­track was also just re­cent­ly added as a bit of ex­tra DLC for $.99.

There is not a large amount to say about the tech­ni­cal set­tings of the game and its per­for­mance as its a 2D pix­el game. Of note are the many res­o­lu­tions, and the abil­i­ty to play win­dowed. Claire sup­ports both game pads and keyboard/mouse for con­trol, with the abil­i­ty to re­bind your main ac­tions. The only time I ever had a hitch in the game is when it would save, and that nev­er fuss­es with game play since you are in safe rooms to save.

Claire isn’t a mas­ter­piece, but it is a damn en­gag­ing time de­spite the flaws in­her­ent in its ex­plo­ration. The sto­ry is one worth ex­pe­ri­enc­ing, and of­fer the play­er a great spooky time if 2D pix­el art doesn’t kill im­mer­sion for you. It’s four to five hours of sol­id play­time is def­i­nite­ly worth full price to hor­ror fans, and makes it a game well worth pick­ing up on sale even if you aren’t.

While not out yet, the de­vel­op­er has patch 1.1 in the works, and it will add even more re­play for those in the au­di­ence who are com­ple­tion­ists with its New Game+ end­ing.

Claire is avail­able on Steam for $9.99 or your re­gion­al equiv­a­lent. You can also find Claire: Extended Cut on the PS4 and Vita.

Pack in Game of the Month: Town of Salem
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Josh Bray
Josh has worked in IT for over 15 years. Graduated Broadcasting school in 2012 with a fo­cus on A/V pro­duc­tion. Amateur pho­tog­ra­ph­er with a pas­sion to make things work… by any means nec­es­sary. Editor-in-Chief and do-er of tech things at SuperNerdLand