Those Who Remain is the latest work from Portuguese studio Camel 101, which has spent the last few years developing a project that will make a lot of good people sweat. It tells the story of Edward, a man who had a perfect life, but who fell apart as a result of tragic events. After deciding to put an end to his extramarital relationship, he drives to Dormont to meet his mistress. Upon arriving at the scene, he finds himself in a very strange situation where the whole small town seems to be deserted and surrounded by almost total darkness. We are quickly absorbed in the case of a child’s murder and from then on, nothing else was normal. It is from this moment on that Edward will be subjected to a test of his morality, where the player will be forced to make certain choices during the game, resulting in the possibility of several different endings.
Not recommended for the faint of heart
Those Who Remain is a game very focused on exploring the scenarios and interacting with them. There are several puzzles that, in many cases, require some attention and reasoning from the player, especially in the end. Fortunately they are never extremely difficult.
The game takes us to some very strange places and one of them is the inverted world. Basically, through certain doors on the levels, we are transported to where we are at that moment, but in a completely distorted reality. For those of you who have seen Stranger Things, I’m sure you’ll understand what I’m talking about. To my surprise, when I was in the inverted world, I felt an inner calm much superior to the real world, but where, at the same time, I seemed to be suffocating with all the visual intensity that was being presented to me.
As I said before, the game contains several puzzles and many of them are solved by travelling between both dimensions. As an example, I had to turn on the lights in a car to keep some enemies away. To do that, I had to do several actions in the area, where many of them were executed in the reverse world and had an effect only in the real world. This eventually happened on several occasions throughout the adventure. Besides puzzles, many actions are only activated after we read certain documents, which may be placed in various places. Be prepared to open and close many doors and drawers throughout this journey.
In addition to these interactions I mentioned, the game also contains some platform parts, but don’t worry. The only jumps that will happen in the game are related to scares. The platform system is well done and linked directly with puzzle solving. Some of these platform zones are applied in a very peculiar way. Every x seconds, the game automatically shifts between the real and the inverted world, and it is in the latter that the platforms are. Since we can’t jump, we have to go through the correct space while we’re in the real world, so that when the game switches to the inverted world, we can then be on the correct platform. It may sound complicated, but of the many times this has happened, it’s only the last one that I found quite demanding, even after deciphering the distance I had to travel.
Visions and sounds that made me uncomfortable
Those Who Remain has a look that imposes respect to each new area. I’m not talking about being graphically impressive, but the fact that many of the scenarios convey a sense of claustrophobia and anxiety, about discovering what’s on the other side of the door, or around the corner. Certain areas were populated by an uneasy fog, where only the bright eyes of those who live in darkness can be seen and are “dying” to slaughter us. All the decoration and level design deserves praise, but the sound aspect deserves no less praise.
The sound has marked me essentially in two aspects. The pure deafening silence that even allowed me to hear my “dry swallowing” at each new compartment I entered, or the chilling sounds that literally left me with “chicken skin” several times. Something I will certainly not forget anytime soon. In terms of soundtrack, we have what you would expect in a product like this, with a sound always creating suspense when required, and more intense notes in moments of greater action. An excellent work in this field.
As if terror wasn’t enough…
Overall, the Camel 101 game ran without problems or bugs, apart from a situation where the light switch didn’t work. I’d passed that area twice before and it always worked. I could clearly see that something was going on as the enemies disappeared from the compartment as soon as I interacted with the switch, even though the compartment was still dark. By restarting the zone for the fourth time (I had already died two times before), everything worked perfectly again. Could this have been another strange event in Dormont? Who knows…
In terms of game mechanics, I didn’t like the checkpoint format. It made me realize that the game only saved after certain puzzles had been solved, which led me to repeat some areas several times. Even if I had performed some necessary actions, the game forced me to repeat them every time I died or restarted. As an example, there was a moment where I always had to get a bolt cutter, cut the chain, open the door, explore a house to get a key, and only then interact with the next action. I had to do this three to four times because I ended up dying while stepping in the darkness by mistake. Unless there’s a good reason behind this decision, I think the player would win if the game saved more often.
Finally, I want to highlight the reduced interaction area with the objects. It’s very small the area we can interact with to open closet doors, drawers, among many other things. I think the area of interaction could be a little wider.
Light or dark? It’s up to you.
Those Who Remains is a game with several influences such as Twin Peaks, The Fog, writer Stephen King, among other names certainly. It’s an adventure thriller with a focus on narrative, immersed in an environment of psychological terror and that can easily disturb the most sensitive. However, despite a few flaws, if you are a fan of this kind of game, don’t hesitate to give it a chance. With a length raging from six and seven hours, and three different endings, Those Who Remain claims to be a good bet for all lovers of the genre.
Player moral test
Several possible endings
Area of interaction with objects too small
Release Date: 28 May 2020
Developer: Camel 101
Publisher: Wired Productions
Genre: Adventure, Terror, Puzzles
Platforms: Playstation 4, Xbox One, Windows, Nintendo Switch (soon)
Review copy (PC) provided by Wired Productions.