30/11/2021

๐Ÿ““Hermitage: Strange Case Files | Xbox Series X | Review | 5/10 | "One is The Loneliest Number" ๐Ÿ“” @ArrowizStudios #GameDev #IndieGames #IndieGame

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I recently had a conversation with my brother - I explained to him how I've grown tired of games using HP Lovecraft as inspiration, how there seems to be a plethora of them and most of them aren't very good, Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth being the biggest exception. 

I had major reservations for this game from the start as more Lovecraftian horror is not what I particularly wanted, but I'm always happy to be proven wrong and so hoped this game would ease my tiredness of Lovecraft and bring my list of good games inspired by his bibliography to a whopping two.

Hermitage is a visual novel; you play as a bookstore manager who runs the Hermitage bookstore which has a collection of odd and mysterious tomes. One day Cecile - a young schoolgirl - visits the shop looking for a specific book, and whilst talking to the girl you realise that she wants it to explain why she has been having weird visions. You then calm the girl and vow to help her investigate her visions and what they might mean. 

The story is interesting, and things take several unexpected turns as the story progresses, but a few things really do hinder the narrative. One is length, my god - this game goes on for a needlessly long time, several hours could be cut from the game, it just doesn't seem to want to end. Pacing is also a real problem, it has real lulls, one-minute things pick up then the next you drop back down into monotony. The game also manages to over-explain certain things to an almost absurd level, yet completely under-explain others. A few times I had absolutely no idea what was going on, which – considering how verbose the game was – amazed me. 

The developers chose an interesting look for this game and by interesting, I mean they looked at a Persona game and blatantly ripped it off, it's not even subtle. Colours, fonts and styles - all clearly ripped from Persona. The one good thing about this is by ripping off Persona - it's all very stylish and does catch your eye. 

The characters and locations are drawn wonderfully and are very atmospheric -dark tones for the sinister locations, with brighter tones for the few locations with any warmth. One of the great shames here is that they recycle a lot of these areas and you feel a great sense of repetition, with such great artwork, a larger variety would have been a great boost. The text in this game is also confusing as things such as internal monologues aren't shown with any visual representation on screen, therefore you have no idea if characters are speaking out loud or just musing in their head. As this game is an English localization it does also come with grammatical errors and spelling mistakes, nothing major but they are noticeable.

The investigation sections are the best parts of this game, each night you can choose various methods to use to research your current case; you can watch TV or surf the internet to gain valuable evidence to piece the case together, taking notes which will help prove your theory etc. 

At times, the information won't seem relevant, but as you move through the story, things become clearer. You can also use the books in the store - and I have to say, every book I read was at least interesting, not always super relevant to the case but they did live up to their weird and strange billing. It was a nice way to feel a connection to the bookstore.

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