You have been chosen. The lucky one that will need to endure the labyrinth. A sack is taken off your head when you arrive to the entrance. After that, the only thing you see is a bright white light as your eyes begin to adjust to the first light that you’ve seen in days. Two lights light up the entrance of your new prison. As your eyes adjust you can see a double door made of thick metal is in front of you. This is the entrance to your prison. You will never know why you are chosen, but soon it will become clear when you get thrown in and the doors lock behind you that you were not chosen to survive.
You have no special skills other than your will. The only way out is to crawl deeper down the rabbit hole that connects to long corridors made of brown brick that have pipes along the top of the walls. Do you go left? Do you go right? Choice is irrelevant. You are there only to stave off your own death and find a way out of a maze.
This long subterranean nightmare of bleak darkness gets punctuated by a light along the floor every one hundred meters. Each light is just far enough away so you can lose sight of the last one. You charge forward to find the next light. The next bit of comforting vision. After a few lights have gone by, you realize that you’re lost and you’ve only made two lefts and found two branching paths. The next light up ahead pops into horrible darkness sending a shock down your spine at the jump scare. It was just the light. There is nothing to fear.
Further and further you go down the rabbit hole. The pipe over your head that you’ve used to partially guide your way suddenly shouts with a high pitch as it springs a leak. Its just a small trickle of water. There is nothing to fear. You continue to walk deeper into the labyrinth with jets of hot steam that stream from the pipes with grey smoke bellow. There is nothing to fear here. Another bit of steam shoots out next to you giving you another jump. There’s nothing to fear. You are only alone in the darkness.
What’s this on the wall above a light? A note. Someone has been down here before you. Long enough to write a note and stick it to the wall. You read the note and its grim. The one before you is just as lost as you. Next thing you know there’s a second note and a third. One saying that he’s run out of glow sticks, yet not a pen.
Up ahead there is a growl. There is nothing to fear down here. Except that noise. So you turn and run to find the last light you had passed. It pops, so you keep running with the growls growing in their intensity. You turn a corner of a junction to go a new way that you hadn’t gone before. Then you bump into a rusty set of steel bars and that’s when you see it. The creature down here. There is now something to fear. It can’t reach you through he steel bars and it knows this, so it runs off into the darkness where you can’t see it.
Now you know there is something to fear. Worse yet, it now knows that you are down here. It now becomes a race. You need to get out, before it gets to you. You run away to find some different route. Have you gone this way yet? Does it matter? You hear growls coming from the distance, but with these walls you can’t tell if the sounds are in front of you or behind you.
There are no weapons. No objects, no loser bricks to defend yourself with. Your stamina drains if you run too long. You are not a sprinter, nor have you trained for a marathon, you are merely average. You are now reduced to being the piece of moving cheese in a rat’s maze. It may make you rethink your choices in life. What lead you to be trapped in a maze with a creature. You will never know, but you must focus on the task at hand. Your own survival. You must find a way out. You will find a way out or the creature will get you. It will wrap its hands around your neck and it will snap it like a twig and you will be dragged away to whatever nest it has.
It is you against a creature. There’s something up ahead of you. Is it another person? They haven’t seen you yet. Its standing just outside the glow of one of the floor lights. You can’t take the chance, so you turn and step in a puddle of water on the floor. It turns around to reveal that no its the creature before it charges through the light at you. At first you run backward to watch it chase after you, to make sure that you’re staying just out of arms length. It will inevitably catch up with you. You can’t endure the physical running let alone the toll the darkness has on you.
Are you even running anymore or have you bumped into a wall in the darkness? Turning to your left reveals another lit hallway, you have indeed run into a wall. You turn to run, but its too late, the creature grabs you by the neck and breaks it ending your life. Those are your worst fears, but like a goof you’re still safe, standing at the steel bars you had originally seen the nightmarish creature.
So you take off running. Down one corridor, through another, finding a boiler room and some glow sticks. You now have light. You will find a way out of here, if not warn the creature where you are. What’s this? Another note telling you not to run or turn around. The more pieces of paper that you find seems to awaken this sewer of a labyrinth you’re in. Streams of steam become more frequent. Its as if you’ve angered the sewer itself.
What’s this? An arrow! Do you believe it? Do you follow it? Is it a trick? Even if its not a trick will the creature be there waiting to intercept you? Following the arrows only leads you deeper and deeper into the dungeon. One arrow leads to another, leads to another. Soon there is a door ahead of you. A rusty steel cell door you’d find in a prison. Of course its locked, you still haven’t found the key yet. You turn to find the key, but standing behind you is the creature with its arms outstretched and there is no where to run.
If you couldn’t tell, Vanish is a first person experience that locks you in a maze with a monster. You need to escape. That’s it. I always struggle to find anything to say with games like this. That is why I write a story about the experience instead of just reviewing the game. Cold science and critique doesn’t put you in the mood for a scary game as bare bones as this one.
The game controls just fine. Mouse to look, click to pick up notes, right click to read them. Arrows or WSAD to move, a button to crawl and a button to run. Its just that simple. Despite not having a jump button, its still a game with jump scares that feels like you need luck to avoid the creature lurking within.
Vanish has a good brightness slider that has you match up shades of grey. It seems like one of the most intelligent sliders I’ve ever seen. Normal games have you slide until you can just barely see something. You can always increase the brightness to see where you’re going, but I feel like that’s just an easy mode. The real challenge is the darkness.
While I can’t say this is a game for me, it is still quite a scary experience.