Horror games can be a dime a dozen these days with almost every developer trying to capitalize on jump scares and horror tropes. But then every once in a while a real gem gets dropped right into our laps. Song of Horror is one of those gems. The episodic survival horror tale was developed by Protocol Games and published by Raiser Games and released its very first chapter back on October 31, 2019. Since then they have released chapters two, three, and four. The final chapter that will wrap up the series is set to release in May. Keep reading to learn more about what makes Song of Horror so great.
Please be mindful that there are spoilers ahead.
Haunting Tales of the Monster in the Shadows
The story in Song of Horror is one of its shining stars. In the prologue we are introduced to Daniel, a divorced ex-alcoholic who is finally pulling himself out of a hole. The publishing company has asked him to check in on one of their star writers who is late with their next manuscript. Upon reaching the house Daniel realizes that things are amiss and goes missing behind a mysterious door. The entirety of chapter one is left to trying to figure out what has happened to Daniel and what is haunting the Husher’s house.
The story is told through cut scenes, interactions with objects in-game, and from vocal hints that the characters share as they investigate. A few things during gameplay that takes a bit to get used to is the tank-like moving mechanics and the stationary camera that shifts when you reach a different portion of the room. This led to me having to go back to double-check the previous rooms to make sure I didn’t miss anything where the camera shifts from spot to spot.
Death Is Real and There Is No Fighting Back
I have shared before in my review for Moons Of Madness that one of my favorite things in horror games is the idea that you are truly in danger and not some unstoppable monster fighting machine. In Song of Horror you have no way to truly fight back against the monsters that lurk in the shadows. Two things that you are able to do in order to save yourself are either to hide and try and calm yourself or if a monster tries to force itself into a room you are able to try and force the door close. Outside of that, you are left on your own against them and that is truly scary.
A mechanic I truly enjoyed and really feared I would have to deal with was permadeath. Throughout the chapter if the character you are playing dies they are gone for good. That’s it. You have to choose another character to return with, collect your backpack and contents, and continue the quest. Each chapter features four playable characters and once they have died then you need to restart the entire chapter again. They recently announced they will be adding a non-permadeath mode for those who don’t want to stress of losing all of their characters.
Don’t Always Trust What You See and Hear
My favorite mechanic in Song of Horror has to be the listening mechanic. While you progress and search the rooms for items to help solve the puzzles, you may need to listen to see if the monster is on the other side of the door. A notification will pop up when you come close to the door and you will need to trigger the mechanic. Listen closely as your character puts their ear to the door to try to hear if the monster is behind the door. If you accidentally open one without checking and they happen to be there it will pull them through into the darkness and their story ends there.
These mechanics only help to enhance the pure horror that the world within Song of Horror has brought us. They don’t rely on jump scares or gore monsters to instill fear. They use the atmosphere to make you feel so relaxed that the fear sets in on its own. During chapter one when searching the house for clues on how to find Daniel, the only sounds you hear are creeks of the house, random footsteps from above, and a slight bit of ambiance music to set the mood.
Song of Horror is one of those horror games that you really need to play in order to experience the fright that comes along with it. I am a huge fan of how they were able to create an atmosphere that can be so calming at times that it makes the anxiety creep up on you. My favorite moments from the first chapter come at the times I least expected them. One came when the young son of the house who has gone missing ran through the hallway behind me as I entered a room and the second was when I was heading back to the second floor and a mysterious person shut one of the doors down below. These small moments made may have terrified me beyond explanation but also are what made me fall in love with the game.