Review: Worse Than Death (PS4)

Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4
  • XBox One
  • Nintendo Switch
  • PC

Platform/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • 4K HDR

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Optional
  • Move None
Title: Worse Than Death
Format: PSN (590.1 MB)
Release Date: October 8, 2019
Publisher: Benjamin Rivers, Inc.
Developer: Benjamin Rivers, Inc.
Original MSRP: $9.99 (US)
ESRB Rating: M
A code for the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
Worse Than Death is a follow-up to 2012’s Home, an adventure-horror game from Benjamin Rivers. While similar in style and tone, Worse Than Death is not a sequel, but rather a brand new story. You take on the role of Holly, as she returns to her home town for her high school reunion. You meet up with your old friend Flynn, who is still dealing with the trauma of the death of his fiancĂ©e (and your best friend) Grace.

I will avoid going any deeper into the story, as that is the main crux of the game, but suffice it to say, the reunion goes horribly bad.

The basic gameplay is a combination of side-scrolling and point-and-click elements, coupled with some puzzle solving. Holly has to deal with an unseen monster throughout the game, but she is limited to what a normal person would do in the situation. You can run (limited by a stamina meter), crawl, jump over obstacles, and hide. There is no combat at all in this game; you need to utilize aural and visual cues to survive. Fear not, as the game provides ample checkpoints and auto-saving.

During the three and a half to four hours it will take to play the game, you will find the need to solve puzzles to be able to progress. These are reliant on locating objects such as keys, or clues to enable you to crack a code. The puzzles aren’t terribly taxing on their own, but when searching for the necessary items, having to work around the monster adds to the challenge.

Visuals:
Worse Than Death has a mix of 2D 8-bit style pixel graphics, and comic book-type narrative panels that blend beautifully with one another to tell the story. When having a conversation with Flynn, or anyone else, the character’s face (in the latter art style) displays next to the text without being obtrusive.

The game also relies heavily, and successfully, on lighting. The use of darkness, as it pertains to both Holly and the monster, is perfect. It heightens the tension of every move you make and every room you enter. With the graphical style being so minimalistic, this was way to go. Of note, there is no direct violence in the game to speak of.

Audio:
Nothing in the game would work, however, without the incredible sound design. The developer recommends wearing headphones while playing, and I wholeheartedly agree with this. I don’t think the experience would have been nearly the same for me if I hadn’t. Being able to tune out the outside world and immerse myself completely made the experience work on a whole other level.

The music blends perfectly with the visuals to have you on the edge of your seat throughout. In addition, the sound effects come from out of nowhere sometimes, and I legitimately jumped quite a few times. I’m not a horror guy though, so your mileage may vary. Regardless, the audio is an integral part of dealing with the monster. Again, to avoid any additional spoilers, I’ll leave it to you to play the game to see what I mean.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is single player only with no online component.

Conclusion:
I was concerned that I would not be able to give this game a fair review, as I do not enjoy horror movies/games, nor do I like being scared, but that wasn’t the case. Worse Than Death sucked me in from the very beginning, and even when it was making me tense or jump, I couldn’t wait to see what happened next. It offers enough challenge in the gameplay, but the story is what stands out the most for me. Worse Than Death deserves to be played by anyone that has $10 and four hours to give.

Don’t be scared…

Score:

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

Written by John Payant

John Payant

Playing games since the late 70s, before the word “gamer” even existed! PlayStation since US Day one 9-9-95. I hope I write better than I play :).

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