Developed and published by Hunchback Studio, Gloom is a linear, gloomy (sorry) side-scrolling game. The trope of being a character waking up with amnesia, is how this game begins. You’re stuck in a world known as the Common Dream and must face up to your own demons as well as monster dreams and Cthulu like family entities that have one purpose and that is to drag you down to the darkness and keep you there.
The story is heavily inspired by H.P. Lovecraft and echoes a resonance of an all to common feeling of loneliness and inner conflict. The creators have a story to tell and wanted to create something that connected with a niche, while allowing for an atmospheric setting that was enticing to fans of Lovecraftian vibes and moody settings.
The combat can be quite challenging at times and requires effort on your part to learn from mistakes and adapt to further your way through this nightmarish world. This is enhanced by procedural levels.
Unlike some horror style games, you are given tools with which to defend yourself. In comparison to Limbo or Amnesia you’re not expected to flee and hide, but rather fight back. Don’t succumb, but persevere. You’re given a selection of weapons and tools to aid you, but be warned there is a permadeath system much like rogue-like titles of old. The game reminds us somewhat, of Salt and Sanctuary.
The pixel art style is a fusion of crisp sprites and deliberately murky shadowy frames, reminiscent of the style of Limbo. The soundtrack reminds us more of Dark Souls than it does a dark, atmospheric spooky title. The emphasis on battle music more than creating a score of tense ambiance, is one that may work for some but puzzle others. It’s completely objective. On its own, the score is good, but as we said we expected a lot more suppressed, eerie sounds tickling our ears.
There’s nothing very inventive or original about this game, though that does not need to be a negative. But with a lot of titles coming out that try to do justice to the dark, abyss genre that seems to resonate with people who may be feeling akin to those tones, some games need a spark, something that sets them apart. Overall the game mechanics work well, the artistic design of the world is wonderful and it’s a playable game. Whether it sticks with you and will be one you would recommend over other titles is dependent.
The game is not a lengthy one, with one play through that doesn’t take time to absorb the environment clocking in at just about the hour mark. Gloom is available on Steam, currently priced at £6.99