The dark 19th century sky is lit up with red flames beyond the mountains next to your cabin. The flames are coming from the town. Your first objective is to get to your basement, pick up your single rifle, grab some bullets and head across the bridge into town. You don’t run or sprint. With your trusty lantern to light the way, you begin to cross the rickety old bridge. Halfway across, it breaks and you fall in the river. Undaunted that your neighbors are on fire, you trudge through the shallow water.
When you get into town, its on fire. White ash flutters through the air. There is no one left alive. Bodies in the church are mutilated and charred. The cross at the end of the chapel is on fire. There is a key on a barrel with only one place that it leads. Trying to exit the front double doors of God’s house gets them slammed in your face. After taking some time, you manage to get one of the doors open and head to the stable where you use the key to get inside. It is there that you find more gruesome bodies. Even worse than that, you find a black mare on the ground, severed in two. Its pink innards are still inside and that’s when you’re punched in the face with a horrifying vision. A shock runs down your spine at the startling jump of the vision. Something is in your head and it won’t relent until you’ve dealt with the werewolf.
You head out of town, where you build a bonfire to make it through the night. That’s when you’re attacked by a giant snake. After shooting it in the face several times, you find that you’ve been bitten. The world begins to melt around you. The world gets hazy and you struggle to walk through a canyon guided by your map. At the end of the canyon is an extremely tall watchtower. Even in a daze, you walk up a winding staircase to the top where there is only more horrifying death. You find a hidden key to a gate on the ground. Then without hesitation, you find the quickest way down is to leap from the watchtower. With the snake venom running through your veins, you feel no pain or death. You just get up and head through the gate.
That’s when you come face to face with the monstrous beast. Your vision goes red from snake venom. It all becomes so surreal. Everything has a blurry green echo as your vision ripples. You see black blades of grass before you see a towering black shadow looking over you. Its pointed ears and arms indicate that its what is in your head. There is no fur on this wolf, its a slick jet black like the charred bodies you had encountered.
The first reaction in your head as it charges toward you is to quickly put a bullet in it. The bullet barely stuns it. The beast drops to all fours as you slowly reload your gun. It charges at you still and you’re lucky enough to put a second bullet into it destroying it in a black puff of smoke. Was it real or is it the venom messing with you? That won’t be the last encounter with the werewolf as you stagger through another canyon.
Going over a wavy bridge, you come face to face with the werewolf a fifth time. There is no where to run, its just you and your rifle against an aggressive man beast. The other encounters were easier. Some go away in a puff of smoke after one mere bullet. This one is different. Even after you’ve taken it down, it remains in your head. When you walk through the puff of smoke you jump at a loud screech as the hazy green fog goes blue and the werewolf rises in your mind. Its only in your mind and it won’t ever stop trying to scare you.
I’ll end the abridged story there, but in case you couldn’t tell, Overcast – Walden and the Werewolf is a first person survival horror game. You won’t just be struggling to keep your sanity, but you’ll be fighting against tar black werewolves, spiders and the slow reload of your single shot rifle. If that wasn’t enough of a struggle, your lantern barely lights up a room. Everything that is lit up has an unnatural plastic shine to it.
There is no run, no rebindable keys, no duck and a laughably pathetic jump. You’ve only got arrow keys, a reload, a mouse click to fire your gun and a right mouse click to zoom in slightly or to move objects. You can lift fallen logs off bodies, move chairs, read letters, pick up keys and ammo all with the right mouse button. There is no pause screen, but there is a menu with only the most basic of screen and graphical quality options. Sorely missing was a brightness adjustment, but I guess you always have your monitor.
After a chapter is completed, you are sent back to the chapter select screen, which takes me out of the immersion. Another thing that really takes me out of the game are all of the invisible walls that surround areas. First around your cabin, even underneath of the bridge there are invisible walls guiding you. I had to hop over clutter that I felt like I should be able to simply walk over. Things like logs strewn on the floor. Even coming up from the basement forced me to jump out. Ladders force you to jump up rungs one by one.
You won’t find much animation if any. Cut scenes are relegated to camera effects and you see your character paralyzed in a default pose. The werewolf spiders and snake are barely animated. Its serviceable, but its also glaring. Even the reload animation is just your gun floating from right to left without a hand on it.
The game has a surrealistic hazy effect throughout most of it. Not just being bit by the snake. There are all sorts of camera effects. Everything from seeing what the snake sees in a fish-eye lens to blurry vision. It really puts a unique twist on things and sets it apart from other first person Unity engine horror games. Because of the surrealistic color pallet and fog, even the simple countryside can become a nightmarish landscape full of dead trees and rigid grass.
You won’t just be in the countryside, you’ll explore an abandon ship next to an ancient web-filled prison fortress. After that, comes a graveyard full unseen spiders hidden in the tall grass. You’ll be tormented mentally with jump scares of enemies falling straight on you. It all keeps you off kilter knowing that any second the game will just screech and throw another mind torturing jump scare at you.
Walden has no health, so getting caught by a werewolf or bit by even the tiniest spider will kill him. Every death restarts you from the beginning of the chapter. There is no save, but the game keeps track of the chapters you’ve unlocked.
The music is surprisingly good and should be applauded. It feels like a real musician added his talents to this game. It was the only shining point of this game. The sound effects though were deafeningly loud for those jump scare moments that we all know and love. There are plenty of random jump scares when you least expect them because the werewolf has taken control of your mind.
To help guide you on your way there is a map if you hit the tab key. It shows you and your direction, but shows your next objective with a glowing area on the map. The only problem is sometimes I went well off the map.
While I do think this is more of a game than other first person Unity engine horror experiences, I didn’t enjoy Overcast – Walden and the Werewolf. Supposedly its an hour long game, that took me three hours to complete and it felt like mental torture every step of the way. With all that said, the surrealism and the awful gameplay make this one unique game among its peers. It has been 14 cents before and in many bundles. It might be worth it.