Some would call Afterfall: Insanity an action horror game. I call it an over the shoulder, survival horror game. The game is set for the most part in an underground complex that feels like a diesel submarine, but most people call it Dead Space. After a few hours of moving through dark metallic boiler rooms, the game opens up to the post apocalyptic outside world. That’s far from a spoiler, that’s enticement, because most people wouldn’t get that far. Its got a good creepy atmosphere and a surrealistic dream like vibe. Filters and distortion overtake the screen. At times your aim gets affected by the situation and wobbles to add to tension.
You are Dr. Tokai, a therapist in an underground fallout shelter where everyone slowly succumbs to madness . The shelter is pristine, white and futuristic, but what lies beneath is all dark. As luck would have it, Dr. Tokai has a shoulder mounted flash light. Tokai gets sent below with two soldiers to investigate a gas leak turning people into mutants (not zombies). One of the heavily armored soldiers gets laughably sedated instantly, while the mutants take several sedation to subdue. Leaving Tokai as the only man for the job to save the last remaining people on Earth!
The game unfolds very nicely once you leave the shelter and ‘travel down the rabbit hole’ so to speak. On the surface the story was mediocre, but after leaving the shelter, I felt compelled to see it to its conclusion. Tokai’s girlfriend and boss are out to get him for murdering so many people. Is it a conspiracy? Are you infected with the madness? All the while there’s a mysterious figure just out of reach that may hold the key to it all. The problem is the voice acting. Its either flat or pleasant delivery. Even in horrible circumstances. A friend just murdered himself, but Dr. Tokai sounds pretty pleasant about it. You’re trapped in a Mad Max style arena, forced to murder. Wow doc, you sound pretty pleasant about it.
The controls are a struggle. Your character takes up a third of the screen. The run gets delayed. So when you hold the run button, he takes a second or two, forcing you to fight your enemies. There is a combat roll, but it just disorients the camera. I laugh at the fact a therapist has a combat roll. You can also find yourself snagged on the simplest of things. The buttons cannot get changed, and they just feel unintuitive, leading me to think ‘survival horror.’ You can run, but you can’t look. It zooms in on your character. He instantly pants even if he has plenty of stamina left.
Ammunition is a luxury, at least in the normal (medium) difficulty. Most of the combat is strictly melee. You can pick up dozens of weapons, from pipes and fire axes to boards and scythes. Then in combat, you have attack, block and kick. It works like a rock paper scissors mechanic, where you kick a blocking enemy, block an attacking enemy and attack when you see an opening. I found myself just attacking. One pull of a trigger often meant my weapon would swing twice. Even if something looks like a direct hit, no blood means no damage.
You have three slots to hold weapons. A side arm, a two handed gun and a melee weapon. If you change from a melee weapon to a gun using the D-pad, the weapon gets dropped. You’ll need to pick it up again. Dr. Tokai will have to holster the side arm or sling the gun to his back, then bend down and pick up the weapon. Its a slow process. That’s a reason why I call this a survival horror game. The emphasis is on OMG I just ran out of ammo, but these mutants are all over me and now I need to pick up my fire axe! The final level makes melee weapons useless and you need to conserve and scavenge for ammunition. I started thinking, two bullets for the sidearm is good.
There is a sparse variety of enemies. Typical humans and mutants, big mutant soldiers covered in spikes, berserk brutes, angel ghosts, exploding zombies and the occasional gunner. You can grab any weapon from a dead enemy. There are three difficulties, but the game is easy at least on normal difficulty except for boss fights. The three boss fights feel like a struggle against the controls and camera more than legitimate difficulty. The game is more easy with regenerating health. Although sometimes the health chooses when to regenerate. Several times I thought I would be dead yet I survived. Even with blood covering the screen, fighting waves of mutants, somehow I just never died. I would hate to die and face the reloading screen of any Unreal game including this one.
Between the combat and atmosphere, there are a few mini games and puzzles. Some of them need more elaboration than just explaining the controls. A door hacking mini game that has you finding a path combination. Such as up, down, down, up. If you get one incorrect, you need to start over again. There are even a few brief chase scenes. These are where enemies and vehicles charge after you. Tokai runs on his own while you quick time event to stay alive.
The animation felt jerky. You can kick a downed enemy in the face to get finished off. Well performing the kick snaps Tokai into position for the kick. Some of the enemies feel like they snap stiff to a standing position when they’re stunned. The walk animation feels slow too. Like how many steps does it take him to walk a meter? Takes me two or three. Takes him ten? The enemies will prance when they strafe. Its great to have them dodge my aim, but do they have to prance out of the way? There are other games with far worse animations, but its prominent. You can’t jump. You can only climb obstacles highlighted with a flashing outline. Consoles, doors, prompts and weapons are all highlighted with squares so you can find them even in the dark.
With everything said, the game is dirt cheap and free it some circumstances. It feels like the developers will be able to put out a better game next time. They’re on the cusp of something good. They just need to improve combat, animations and voice acting. Several of my steam friends have it and except for one, they’ve all played less than an hour and abandon the game. Buyer beware.