Title: Claire: Extended Cut
Platform: PC, PS4 (reviewed), PS Vita and Xbox One
Developer: Hailstorm Games
Publisher: Hailstorm Games
Release date: Out Now
tl;dr: A combatless, 8-bit Silent Hill.
Price: $15 / £12 / €14
Family Focus: Click here for more information.
Claire: Extended Cut tells the story of a teenage girl struggling to make it through high school thanks to constant nightmares. She spends most of her time taking care of her sick mother, but the stress gets to her. She tries to hold everything in place, but unfortunately the past, the present, and something mysterious is catching up to her. As our blonde heroine tries to make it of out the hospital where she visits her sick mother, she constantly shifts to and from her younger self, reliving past moments.
Claire: Extended Cut is a throwback to classic 8-bit 2D games. While the game is a survival horror, Claire cannot defend herself, but she can escape enemies by running, jumping over smaller spectres, or hiding in certain spots. In order to her make her way around the dark areas, Claire has a lighter and a flashlight. Much like in real life, flashlights eat up batteries, so players need to be smart. Obviously, the flashlight covers a bigger area than a lighter so it’ll be tempting to have it on at all times, but run out of batteries and you’ll only have the lighter to rely on.
Claire is also accompanied by her pet dog, Anibus, who she refers to as Ani. Her furry little companion won’t do much but growl if players enter an area containing enemies, giving players a heads up to either run or find a hiding spot.
While navigation is fairly simple, the map can prove cumbersome at times as some doors will be transparent. Claire’s movements are limited from left to right, but the map is shown from a top down view, so it can be confusing. Going left in an area can translate to up on the map or the other way around, and seeing as exploration is key, it can lead players going around in circles.
While deaths are few and far between when carefully avoiding enemies, Claire can find butterflies during her exploration which resuscitates her at the last save point.
And don’t get me wrong: while the goal of the game is to escape, it will fuck with the player. As Claire encounters enemies, her sanity will be affected and players will experience weird hallucinations. And the higher the difficulty setting, the easier it is for Claire to lose her marbles.
Survival horror means item management. This one is a bit nightmarish, like the game’s setting. At first, players will find a few useful items such as cola, tea or lockpicks, allowing them to restore some health, sanity, or unlock doors. However, the further players get in the game, they’ll find that their inventory fills up pretty quick. Collecting key items for NPCs take up space in the inventory, and you can’t dump items to make space. Players will burn through useful resources in order to have spots for key items, and that will prove quite risky when they don’t have any health or sanity items left when needed.
Those who decide to pick up the game on Sony’s consoles, PS4 or PS Vita, you’ll be pleased to know that the game offers Cross-Buy. Additionally, Claire is the perfect game to play on the Vita: turn the lights off, connect headphones to your console, and bring a change of pants.
Claire: Extended Cut captures perfectly what made games great way back in the NES era: old school visuals and mesmerising score. Having grown up in the NES era, I fully appreciate that type of visuals. While the 8 bit design won’t provide as much details as today’s technology can, Hailstorm Games managed to craft something unique and creepy in the sense that less is more. Audio wise, players will be creeped out by the random noises and the perfect score amplified by the tense atmosphere. The visuals and score capture the essence of survival horror to a tee. Creepy environments mixed with an atmospheric soundtrack that would make Akira Yamaoka proud is a recipe for success.
When playing Claire, you can’t help to be reminded of Silent Hill: creepy environments, atmospheric score, blurring the lines between reality and nightmare; hell, even the sound bites in the item management sound like the ones from the original Silent Hill. And that’s a good thing. Claire: Extended Cut manages to capture Konami’s masterpiece’s best components: story, sound and atmosphere. While navigation can be frustrating at times and item management being hell, Claire: Extended Cut is a must play for those looking for a fresh survival horror experience.
- Perfect Silent Hill-like atmosphere
- Amazing soundtrack
- Great story that is perfectly paced
- Cumbersome navigation at times
- Item management hell
Due to the game being an indie release, an ESRB rating is not available. However, the game features a bit of blood and mature subject matter which would make the game recommended for teens and adults.
This review is based on a retail copy of the game provided by the developer