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Chasing Static Review

Updated: Oct 12, 2023

Genre: Psychological Horror | First Person Horror

Modes: Single Player

Developed by: Headware Games and Ratalaika Games S.L.

Published by: Headware Games and Ratalaika Games S.L.

Original Release date: September - October 2021 Console release date: January 2023

Platforms: PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC and Nintendo Switch

Platform I played on: PlayStation 5

Thanks Headware Games and Ratalaika Games S.L for the review key!

 

Chasing Static is a short, yet still riveting psychological horror experience that brings you into the world of what feels like a classic 1980's Sci-Fi film. Throw in some low poly resolution on top of that, and you've got a PlayStation 1 aesthetic throwback in the mix. The entire atmosphere of the game nails the sense of dread and fear of the unknown, all while doing this with no enemies and basically no big jump scares. Chasing Static does also provide multiple different endings, so more than one playthrough is recommended to see a bit more in this games short runtime. Happy Chasing Static!


Stranger Things have happened here

Chasing Static provides a compelling story that to me draws upon the likes of The X Files, Stranger Things, Twin Peaks, Resident Evil, Silent Hill and Unusual Findings, just to name a few examples. Set in a rural town in Hearth, Wales you play as Chris, who is travelling past the rural town after burying his father. As a thunderstorm begins to brew on his journey, Chris decides to stop at an isolated café, and is met with a lovely waitress who soon gets attacked by something. Chris in the meantime blacks out, and by the time he wakes up everything in his surroundings has changed. Now here's where the Stranger Things begin. The café looks as if it's been abandoned for some time, as well as no sign of the missing waitress (Oh, and the cakes in the window are all well off past it's expiry date). What the heck just happened?


Stranded and unsure of what he's walked into, Chris then looks for help (ah, we all know how much help we'll find in a horror game). However, in spooky horror fashion, he comes across something far more disturbing; an abandoned research facility! Surely there's nothing creepy about that, right? Soon after finding this facility, a voice on the other side of the radio informs him that he's in danger, and that your only way to escape is to do exactly as the voice tells you. In this case, you have the locate the 'containment equipment' and make sure you bring it back online to ensure you don't become another victim in this mysterious place.


Throughout your journey into the unknown, you'll have a few locations to explore including the wilderness, an old Inn and the abandoned town itself. Thankfully, you'll have a FDMD (Frequency Displacement Monitoring Device) to help guide you. You'll also come across "echoes" which are crucial in progressing the story. These "echoes" are visions of what happened in Hearth, and they will often provide an object (such as a key to open a door) to progress the story. The story, as you'll eventually learn, becomes a bit more personal to our protagonist Chris, and understanding his true connection to the town and the horrific events that took place. You may not be as new to this place as you think.


Gameplay

All gameplay is in first person, and there are no enemies or jump scares as such. There are some creepy moments and sounds for sure, but instead you're more or less exploring and watching "echoes" to discover the events that took place. The gameplay mechanics are pretty simple. You press Triangle/Y for inventory, Up on the d-pad to get your torch, and you can scroll through inventory. There isn't much else to it, so if you're looking for a game with more complex gameplay, you won't get that here. You can also take photos via a polaroid which is pretty neat, but doesn't do much else otherwise.


While there aren't any looming enemies to defeat, there's always a sense of dread of what took place here. In classic Resident Evil fashion, there is also a bit of back and fourth in going to locations, for example unlocking certain gates/doors with a specific set of keys, and reporting back to the mysterious voice on your progress. Though, there is a fast travel option that will zap you to locations via phone teleportation (very Stranger Things-y). The game won't guide you too much other than letting you know if there are still undiscovered key items in an area, but there are only so many places you can explore as the entire game is just about you finding the three containments equipment. There isn't anything else or short side quests, so if you were expecting a bit more then you might be a bit underwhelmed. For me personally, I would have enjoyed seeing this as a longer game because it had a lot of potential to expand, however, it still works well with it's runtime, and it doesn't overstay it's welcome, or feel like a drag.


You're also given dialogue options when speaking to someone (though this happens mainly at the beginning in the café with the waitress, and you can see yourself in third person) and again towards the end of the game.


Glitches | Bugs | Issues

Thankfully there wasn't any that I came across. Of course, at the time of writing this review the game is well over a year old and I played it on next gen. So, chances are any major issues have likely been resolved. Of course though, whatever you're playing on, that isn't to say there aren't any glitches, bugs or issues - just keep an eye out for them. I've had nothing but a smooth sailing experience with this title personally.

Design

The design and overall aesthetic of Chasing Static is clearly drawn upon from classic 3D, low poly horror PlayStation 1-era games including taking inspiration from Resident Evil (Of course). The design, at least to me, was one of the biggest appeals for me to play this game. The story itself sounded interesting on it's own, but the low poly aesthetic drew me in. It's crafted immaculately, and it doesn't feel tacky or done for the sake of it. The story and tone made perfect sense for this game to be played in retro fashion. Not only for the sake of building upon nostalgia but to encapsulate this particular story.


Aside from the look, the sound of the game is layered with specific sounds including static (well of course!), humming and not to mention the voices in echoes. It definitely feels like you're listening to these voices from an old, distorted tape which gave it a nice touch. All these sounds don't overpower either, and it all feels natural within the atmosphere of the game. The voice acting itself was also fine, with much of Chris's dialogue done via voiceover towards the end of the game.



Length/Replay ability

A rough 2 hr experience (in one playthrough) with plenty of replay ability here, especially if you're more into psychological horror as opposed to fighting off physical beings. It's a must if you're wanting to see all endings outcomes, and you can pretty much do this in a day.

Conclusion

Chasing Static still provides an excellent, short horror experience with a lot going for it. While I did enjoy the game overall, especially given the games story, it did feel a little bit short and could have had just a bit more to it. Though, it's still an enjoyable time, and does have multiple endings if you're someone who needs to see every single outcome. I didn't find any huge flaws with the design of the game, as it kind of was just refreshing to have simple, old school gameplay. I can recommend this if you're looking for a purely, psychological, exploration game to jump into, or if you're looking for a unique game to pass the time. I don't think I can recommend this for players who are looking for a more complex ridden horror, or if you don't enjoy walking exploration for 2 hours. In saying that though, there's no harm in giving this game a go even if it's not your cup of tea - you may end up being surprised with what Chasing Static can offer.



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