Claire awakens from a happy dream about happy friendship bears to find herself at home in bed with shadows lurking over her. The shadows close in and you’re given a choice to call for your parents, hide or get out of bed. The room is covered in pink, but marred in shadow. The only light sources come from a clock that reads 3:33 and an open window that lets in some moonlight. When the girl hops out of bed to scurry out of the room in a 2D side-scrolling fashion, she’s yanked back toward the shadows that lurk over her bed.
After that she’s allowed to scour her darkened how looking for the brother and parents. Windows illuminate dark hallways that have shadowy birds flying through them. The screen begins to flicker, shake and glitch as each room gets darker than the next. Static on the television, the only lights pop as Claire walks by and shadowy soccer balls roll by her feet. Minutes tick by, but the next clock still reads 3:33 as well. The moon must be shrouded as no more light shines through the window’s open curtains.
When Claire reaches her parents room, everyone is gone, the bed is floating and her mom tells her that everything’s going to be okay. That’s when Claire wakes up curled in a ball on a chair inside the St. Barbara hospital pediatrics ward. There’s a photo of a happy couple in the background with a different photo of a beach over it. The room is lit by a light overhead and red candle that flickers. The curtains are half open and its pitch black outside.
Claire is a young blonde girl with barrettes in her hair wearing a hoody and jeans. Claire knows that she needs to stop sleeping there, because that place is getting to here. From that point Claire wanders the hospital floor. The place is pristine and nothing out of the ordinary other than she’s the only person there. There are still hints that a black fog or haze watches her from just beyond the light’s reach.
She can run, jump and open doors to get from one area to the next. We can assume that since she’s in a hospital that’s the reason why she can’t run fast or run a long distance without running out of breath. There are plenty of maxcell batteries and cola for her to collect marked as shinny objects here and there to catch her gaze.
Several doors are locked or blocked. She can even hear the television on inside and the doors that are unlocked Claire wants to leave the inhabitants in peace. Its routine for Claire, she says its always been quiet at night. Hallway after hallway, they begin to get darker and unfriendly. After searching through a dozen hallways its safe to say that Claire is alone.
There is then a sign of life, her phone rings,s he answers, but the person on the other end hangs up. She finds plenty of things to interact with, plaques, couches to curl upon and rooms that let her save any progress. Upon reaching a coffee room, Claire says that there are still a few hours before school starts and she needs to get back home. Then she says she misses sleeping in her own bed. So it seems that Claire has a conflict. Stuck in a hospital overnight that she needs to go home from. Waking up in a chair rather than a bed. She’s in street clothes instead of a hospital gown.
It is just an ordinary, mundane hospital. The water tastes like dirt, there is a rickety elevator that almost breaks with her in it. The elevator opens on the wrong floor. She feels that she must have pushed the wrong button. Soon the rooms become uninviting. Rust seeps out from vents. The bright lights get dim. There’s a scratching sound and before she realizes, she’s staring at a hospital bed with a red candle on it and a shadowy mist hovering over it.
The mist slowly consumes the entire room before Claire herself is on a table with red candles around her on the floor, shadowy figures walking around and a giant, fleshless, meaty creature hovering above her. Does it have a face? Is that a face? No is that also a face? Are those four giant teeth or four giant nails? What are those dozen shadow people around her? Claire is stuck, something is holding her down.
It all comes to an end though as a barking German Shepard makes the shadow men dissipate. She knows this German Shepard, its her dog Anubis or Ani as Claire likes to say. With her faithful dog here, the bond is broken and she’s free to move while the fleshless muscle creature stays clung to the ceiling.
Claire realizes her phone is busted, the hospital is dark with only dim lights or red candles here and there, so she’s forced to use her lighter to guide the way. This lighter never runs out of fuel and she soon finds a flashlight to light the way, but it requires Maxcell batteries.
The hospital has changed completely and its in disarray. Furniture strewn about, doors have giant chains and locks around them. Some hallways are blocked off with rubble. Claire has to push things aside to get into doors. Something happened in this hospital.
With her faithful dog here with her, she needs to meet the challenge to survive going room to room in a labyrinthine complex. Going through air ducts, elevators, doors and so on. She checks each closet, bathroom stall, locker and trash bag looking for items to stay alive. Lucky for her she has a map that shows where she’ll be headed, what doors are locked and which ones need keys. Claire can pick a door’s lock with a hairpin and enough time to do it. With each cooridoor containing plenty of doors, Claire can find herself lost with each new hallway without checking her map.
Anubis growls, Claire wonders what it is, but she soon learns to recognize that when Ani growls, there’s a presence with them. A shadowy figure with a white outline of a face that will charge the two of them and chase them from room to room. If she hides beyond a door, the creature will smash the glass and begin to course through the door turning it black until the being springs into the room with them. Their only resolve then is to hide in a laundry basket or closet. The creatures make static screeches to crawl up Claire’s spine.
Every time a shadow creature touches her it drains Claire’s health and the only way she restores it is by chugging various types of cola or coffee. She also has a sanity factor and the more she sees, the crazier she can become. Depleting health or sanity mean most certain death for her.
Claire’s only real power is to face her fears and bait these shadow creatures through room after room until she finds a closet to hide in so the creature can walk by. This hospital is a hostile place with scarce resources. There is a limited bounty of batteries and cola so when she’s out, that’s it.
As isolating, atmospheric and terrifying as the hospital can be, there’s someone else in St. Barbara. There’s another patient here that Claire will inevitably find. You get choices for Claire at key moments, but I feel they are of little consequence.
The danger comes from more than these creatures and giant shadow reapers, there are a few hazards here and there, such as her own mind working against her. Claire has dark hallucinations of when she picked a dog from the pound. Her mind twists the memory into something horrifying. The dogs int heir kennels are only a pair of glowing eyes. You can begin to wonder what is her reality. Who she is and why she’s stuck in this hospital.
I think the bottom line here is that the game is a tense experience that gets lost in hallways.