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31 Oct 2021

REVIEW: Gravewood High (Early Access) - PC (Steam)

Review by Staff
Before I start, as always with Early Access games, you must keep in mind that this is not the finished product. Game developers often will listen to feedback, update and change the game before a proper release, so any comments I give here are not on the finished game.

Gravewood High is a stealth horror game, set in a high school. Seemingly set in the 1980s/1990s.

The story goes that some students have gone missing at Gravewood High, but none of the teachers or parents have noticed. You are stuck within the school, and you need to escape, the problem is that the school is very much a maze that is constantly changing, and there is an evil teacher (Mr Hyde) looking for you.

Although this is a horror game, it is a game with very cartoony graphics, but the big twist is that every time you get caught by the teacher, when you replay, things have moved, locations of objects you need to solve puzzles have changed, the very puzzles themselves may need different ways to solve. Puzzles might include finding objects to open a gate, connecting or disconnecting electrical devices. Entering or exiting a certain area. Early on one puzzle you need to complete is to power up an elevator, the power coupling outside is damaged, so you need to find an alternative way. You find an electrostatic generator in the science room, and soon realize you need to find metal trophies and place them along a route to the elevator to give it power. Sounds simple, but when you have Mr Hyde (The Teacher) looking for you, that is where the stealth comes in, you need to watch him from afar, and if he sees you, run to safety. As panic sets in you will make mistakes, and before you know it you have to start again. Luckily you have a friend on the other end of a walkie talking who will help you as you play.

Each area of the school contains plenty of things you can pick up and move, things you might need to hold on to, spanners, bolt cutters, torches etc. And as you progress Mr Hyde gets smarter, transforms and develops new abilities as well as new ways to find you.

One of the ways to win is to outwit the teacher, set up traps for him, maybe connect a wire cable to a patch of water and lure him to you to electrify him. The game has a decent plot, and the story is worth following and paying attention to.

You will play for long periods without a checkpoint, so when you do get caught, the thought of playing a long area again, can be frustrating, more so because you know that the things you need will have changed location. Instead of this being a challenge, it just becomes an annoyance. Although you will lose things that were in your possession, you do keep hold of any keys picked up, so it is not all bad.

Finding secret paths and areas is also a big part of the game, they are a great way to avoid Mr Hyde, as well as progress further. The puzzles themselves are all pretty straight forward, so the hardest part of the game is staying away from the teacher, so as soon as you figure out what you need to do in a puzzle, you need to figure out how you will avoid Mr Hyde while you do it.

The Good
A nice-looking game, that does have some genuine moments of excitement as you rush to solve a puzzle while Mr Hyde is on the war path.

The Bad
Sometimes feels more like a game of chase than it does of a puzzle solving horror, the frustration felt sometimes overruns the challenge, meaning that when you do know exactly what you are supposed to do, but keep failing, you might just give up.

As an early access game, many issues can be forgiven, there is a lot of potential here. The various story elements need to be further investigated in the gameplay, and perhaps help lessen the frustration to challenge ratio.

For now, the game is worth checking out, won't be everyone's cup of tea, but it is decent.

Review by Staff

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