Earlier today, I streamed Dawn of Fear alongside my co-worker Paul Tamayo. It’s a newly released throwback horror game harkening back to Resident Evil and Alone In The Dark. Fixed camera perspective, chess-themed puzzles, nasty zombies. It has all the classic beats. It’s also janky and strange, and we might have broken it.
Dawn of Fear was developed by Spanish studio Brok3nsite, and is available exclusively on the Playstation 4. It’s an ode to classic horror that will be comfortable to anyone familiar with its predecessors. There are no big story revelations or shocking design twists here. You play as a man returning to his family home after a death in the family; he then uncovers strange necromantic secrets. There are keys to find and zombies to shoot. I generally enjoyed myself, but Dawn of Fear’s rough edges make it hard to truly love.
Sometimes, you’ll enter a room only to find giant floating texture blobs. Other times, your gun doesn’t seem to hit where you aimed it. The interface—which looks like a notebook—has charm but is clumsy to navigate. Puzzles that should be easy become more difficult due to the odd stiffness whenever you move a piece or flick a switch. Most egregiously, I think we broke the game while trying to play it, or maybe the game was always broken. After I found an item that required the use of a power tool, I wandered into the basement and brought the item over to said power tool, only to find that whatever the item was (or whatever I was supposed to receive) simply wasn’t in my inventory.
I can’t really recommend Dawn of Fear except to hardcore horror fans or players looking for an oddity. Games like The Glass Staircase or the five-minute horror game September 1999 are smarter and scarier. But if you poke around and shake off Dawn of Fear’s messiness, there are some creepy scares to be had. I’d simply consider waiting for a few patches and fixes before you dive in.