Terror DTLA: Son of Sam review
|You are trapped inside your home during a summer heatwave. A power blackout has blanketed your neighbourhood in fear as a serial killer moves quietly through the darkness. You must work together to solve the mystery and survive the night. Could this terrifying copycat killer of the infamous 1977 Son of Sam murders be lurking now outside your own front door?|
|$17 per team|
|Online (based in USA)|
|Played by Daiman, Paul and Bharath|
|Completed in 64 minutes|
With a heavy dependency on video footage, the actual game environment amounts to a handful of room images with game objects transposed onto the setting. Think 90s point and click style. It Does the job but isn’t standout. There’s an appropriately pacy soundtrack and then we have the videos themselves. All the footage is essentially a character addressing the camera with a nondescript or under lit background giving no real sense of space, resulting in these interludes feeling less integrated into the game.
Here’s the thing, this game reeks old school FMV games, things like Night Trap, the original X-Files game etc. I was/am a huge fan of that style of game and Son of Sam is a shot of pure nostalgia. Objectively, there’s little here though but what exists is slathered in 90s Mega-CD goodness.
This is a horror experience but there’s no blood or gore. The 4 chapters are filled with short solo videos from 4 “Hollywood” actors. They’ve been in a few US dramas like The Morning Show and Criminal Minds, but calling them Hollywood seems a bit of a stretch! The acting is of a high standard but the videos are simple static ones that focus on the actors who go all out trying to convey fear.
Interspersing these videos was a decidedly low quality point and click puzzle game that seemed out of place compared to the clips. A unique aspect to the game was being asked to do real world tasks like taking a photo of your street. They are optional but help increase immersiveness.
I’ll be honest here, puzzles scarcely exist in Son of Sam. The game is divided into four chapters with each section essentially having one problem that needs to be solved. These are blindingly simple however. We cracked the solution to the first two chapters within seconds. Don’t play this game to be challenged. As much as it feels like I’m trashing the game in this respect, it’s important to know that if you’re buying this for gameplay, move on. You’ll regret the purchase.
Where Son of Sam adds some value to gameplay is in the immersive challenges. These bookend each chapter and ask you to do something in the ‘real’ world. I would strongly suggest that you embrace these. The game has no way of checking if you’ve performed them as there’s no live host but, if you embrace the game on its level, you’ll draw a lot more from the experience.
But, again, being objective, the puzzles in this game are woeful and are absolutely not a reason to play.
I have to be brutal here, the puzzles are awful! They are few and far between and so simple. So, so simple! One requires a code which was so easy to find that I almost didn’t enter it as I thought it was too obvious. Another just needed you to use information that was shown earlier in the game. If you didn’t save it at the time, like us, you have to replay the whole chapter and watch all the unskippable videos again to get it. Very frustrating! Confusingly with the point and click game, the items that looked obviously clickable often weren’t and vice versa.
Is Son of Sam a bad game by conventional measures? Totally. That cannot be disputed in the slightest. Did I enjoy every second of the experience? Unequivocally. I’m happy to admit that I sit at the perfect convergence here, I’m a massive fan of B-movie horror and grew up on games like Sewer Shark and D. I’m sure this thing was designed by someone just like me!
Can I sit here and wholeheartedly recommend this game? That’d be unfair because I fully recognise the niche that this game occupies. The rest of the team were decidedly less enthused as time moved on. It’s not going to be for everyone.
If you’re curious, have a look at the poster and if it appeals, you might be the audience. But don’t just throw it on at any time. Play it late with drinks and go along with it, it has an undeniable charm and if you give yourself over to it, you should have an enjoyable hour.
I have many words I could use to describe Son of Sam. Absurd, confusing, silly, hilarious, nonsensical, random, unique, bizarre. I did enjoy parts of the game, but they were mainly the bits that were so bad they were good! I can’t tell if the things like the highly unrealistic spider endlessly rotating on the cobweb were intentionally rubbish or not.
I hated the puzzles but the videos were enjoyable, apart from the need to constantly press the play button as they didn’t start automatically, disturbing the flow of the game. You need to embrace the randomness to get the most out of Son of Sam. Play at night with the lights off and a few beers to hand and follow all their instructions.
At roughly £13 converted, I think this experience offers something unique in the market. It’s a reach to call it a game but if you’re inclined to kick back with a few cans on a Friday night and indulge in some mindless movies – Son of Sam lets you become part of the ‘movie’. It’s a great party game and something unique amongst all the other online experiences out there.
The price per person would be no more than renting a movie (assuming you play with a team of course!) and playing with a group is definitely the best way to go with this! Just know that it’s less a game and more an interactive movie with little decision making, if that sounds interesting, I don’t feel that the price is prohibitive. If you can relate to the rest of my review, you’ll know whether you’ll like this or not!
Do not purchase this for the puzzles as you will be left disappointed. But if you’re a horror fan and/or like the actors, it might be worth a punt for $17. Or if you want something laughably random that is very different from every other online puzzle game, what they call an ‘Immersive Haunted Escape’, you may find value in Son of Sam. Included in the price, you get to play the game again and again for a whole year – not that I can imagine anyone wanting to do so as there’s zero replayability!
Theming - 6/10
Puzzles - 2/10
Enjoyment - 5.67/10
Value - 5/10