Cry of Fear – a psychological first person horror game, that can be played either as solo or cooperative. As I have not played the solo campaign, this review will mainly focus on the co-op campaign.
Cry of Fear started out as a mod for Half-Life 1 before becoming a standalone title due to its popularity. While the game uses the Half Life source engine and basic code, everything else such as textures, sounds and models were made by the Team Psykskallar.
In the co-op mode, you play as policemen investigating the case of Simon (the main character in the solo campaign). Upon reading the book, the policemen are dragged into “Simon’s Book” and thus fight backwards through the single-player campaign timeline to prevent the events of the solo campaign from ever happening. Basically you play as time cops who go back through time.
You have a variety of weapons that you can find to aid you. Ranging from the standard issue police baton, tree branches, M-16 rifle to the Remington 870 shotgun. If you die however, you have the option to wait for your partner to revive or respawn with the loss of your weapons. If all members of the co-op team die, the map restarts and you lose all of your weapons. However, you will be given at least one weapon after respawning. I am still upset about the loss of my police baton since it left me having to use a tree branch as a melee weapon….when I lost the branch as well due to restarting the map, my empty Glock pistol became a melee weapon. So imagine how happy I was to get a switch blade as a melee weapon.
Another thing is that ammo is extremely scarce in this game, lending it credence as a survival horror game. The thing I hated the most is how reloading gun that has bullets left in the magazine, sees you losing those bullets as well. The only exception to this is the shotgun. I done this several times and it is not a good feeling, knowing you needed those bullets and you just wasted them. Especially knowing how rare it is to find ammo.
I know I have repeated this many times in the past, but for anything involving horror, atmosphere plays such a big role. The reason atmosphere is so important is because you need to be able to set the stage, without the help of monsters and such to scare the player. The atmosphere alone should be able to fill a player with dread, especially since I think in general, humans as a species fear the unknown the most.
For Cry of Fear, the atmosphere is very well done. Creepy ambient sounds, music and dark visuals throughout the game adds to the fear and being in first person, you cannot simply peek around a corner. Much less see them over a fair distance away. The sounds the enemies make are often disturbing, and at times very alarming. Especially when they shriek at you, causing me usually to give a startled shout of alarm before reacting, and sometimes that causes me to waste ammo due to panicked shooting.
Lighting plays an important role for both gameplay and the atmosphere in Cry of Fear. Similar to Silent Hill (I’m thinking of SH: Homecoming in this case), you have a flashlight attached to your shirt, and it never runs out of battery. I am pretty sure it is much brighter compared to the cellphone that you have to rely on during the solo campaign. While in solo campaign, you can dual wield your phone along with a one-handed melee weapon, you are unable to do any dual wielding in the co-op. While there is ambient light all around you throughout the game, having the flashlight on is obviously the better option. I think in the solo campaign, you can lose battery power while using the phone so you have to scavenge to find phone batteries otherwise make your way through a darker environment.
Okay, I may not be the best person to talk about horror games, considering I try to avoid them. I get scared easily okay….and combine that with an irrationally imaginative brain….and there you go. Anyways, I think Cry of Fear has all the right elements for a horror game, although playing this with a friend took a lot of the fear away for me. Minus the times I got startled by some enemies and dealing with Simon + the bosses. I think Cry of Fear is a great indie horror game, that will definitely appeal to those who are fans of old school horror possibly, just in first person and not third person. As well excluding the ever-changing camera angles that drive me nuts. The game has very considerate length. A friend and I were playing this yesterday, thinking we were nowhere near the end of the co-op campaign, only to find out that we were actually somewhat close to the end after 3 hours.
Did I mention this game is actually free? No? Well, it is free and Team Psykskallar created this as a standalone Half Life Mod. What does that mean? It means that you do not need to own Half Life to play it, so everyone can enjoy (and scream) while playing this. If you like horror, I definitely urge you to try this out, by either downloading it from their website or off Steam. It is free so you have nothing to lose!