There is nothing better on these warm summer days, where it doesn’t get dark until very late than firing up a horror title. Yeah, it’s a bit of a jarring picture if I’m honest, but that doesn’t stop developers and publishers from launching them at what feels like the wrong time of the year. MADiSON is the latest to join the list of mid-summer scarefests from Argentina based Bloodious Games and is a first person psychological horror game with a strong vibe of Outlast and PT. This isn’t a bad thing as those titles are held as the top tier of survival horror (even if one of them has never seen the light of day).
The PR chat for the game actually sets things up well (for once) as it asks a killer question: “What would you do if you woke up locked in a dark room, with your hands covered in blood?“. Well, MADiSON sees you playing as Luca – a teenage boy who wakes up covered in blood one day and from there our unlikely hero/victim(?) has to work out what is happening and why. In short his family are basically hunted by a demon that has been forcing them to commit abominable acts for decades and Luca has to stop the demon once and for all to free his families’ bloodline. I just hope he has a bag full of fresh pants on that note. As scary tales go its ok, though it does fall into a seen-it-before mould right at the end. It’s a bit of a shame; as if you’re a fan of horror you’ll be able to nail this one long before the credits roll.
MADiSON takes the now standard horror walking sim approach where you roam around a house that is ever changing, while trying to get to the bottom of things, and to its credit the game nails pacing. It knows where and when to get you, as well as playing with your mind… meaning you’re never not on edge. And yes there are more than a few moments that will make you jump. Gameplay also takes a leaf from the Outlast playbook in that there is no real combat – instead you’ll explore, collect and solve puzzles. This works well, especially the puzzle side of things, which to its credit are very well designed and rarely use the same type of puzzle twice. Things get a little bit more interesting when you whip out your instant camera which is a key machine to a lot of the puzzles. It is used to great effect creating a lot of the stand out and memorable moments in the game now I think of it, this is quickly becoming a new trait as A LOT of horror titles in this vein tend to swap shooting guns for shooting cameras. Along with helping solve puzzles, beware where you point your camera, as you WILL get more than you bargain for sometimes if you’re going a bit snap happy.
On the downside the size of your inventory is a joke, which makes solving some puzzles feel artificially lengthened, as you have to do more than a bit of back tracking to get things. It’s also too easy to miss things that are key to puzzles if you’re not paying super attention given the shifting nature of the world. Visually the game has the real world look, but a real world where no one knows how to clean, so every area is caked in dust and grime, which help to set the mood well. Sound-wise it’s very good with audio playing a huge part in the scares and the voice acting is solid, though Jacob Judge as Luca does get a bit too whiney for his own good at points. MADiSON may not be released at the best time of the year for horror games if I am being honest, but to its credit it doesn’t need the light off to get you going. If you’re a horror fan this will fill the HUGE PT hole you have just a little bit, whereas everyone else will have more than a few sleepless nights.
An Xbox review copy of MADiSON was provided by Bloodius Games’ PR team, and it’s available now on Xbox, PC, Switch and PlayStation for around £35 depending on platform.