With a slew of triple-A horror titles coming out to fans this year, sometimes a few gems go unnoticed…especially if come from indie companies. DOLLHOUSE, from Creazn Studio, is one that arrived with great potential….but is that enough for it to shine in the spotlight?
In DOLLHOUSE, you play as Marie, a detective in the golden age of Hollywood who tries to escape from a frightening world that she created to hide a dark secret. The only way the player can reveal said dark secret is by collecting memories that will eventually reveal her tucked away past. During the adventure, you are constantly chased by mannequins of the past who do not want the best for you. In fact, their goal is to steal back all of the memories you have retrieved.
The gameplay of DOLLHOUSE is shaped by mazes as you walk through narrow corridors finding your way. There is no mini-map or HUD to show you around. Instead, you have a small piece of chalk to mark important locations. Making things more interesting are the aforementioned mannequins creating obstacles challenging her to remember painful truths. These figures will lay out traps and even block your path with false walls. If you are caught, you will die. However, you do have the option to go back to where you died to gather up everything you had collected, or you be faced with starting all over again.
The levels in this game are its main strength, especially because there is no way to keep a record of how the layout is. I played it a few times and no play through was the same. For harder-to-find items, you have the option to use an interesting mechanic called the Focus Meter. This gives you the sight of your pursuer to find hidden objects.
Another interesting game mechanic is the script writing and film editor. Since Marie’s life is based in the golden age of Hollywood, her memories can be spliced together to find out more about her life. If the game is too hard, you have the option of turning on the “Voyeur Mode” which means just enjoying the puzzle and mysteries behind the game without any fear of being attacked.
Unfortunately, the game is incredibly glitchy. In fact, at various points in the game, it will hide memories from you by pushing them into a wall. The controls are very sluggish and stiff so your character plays like a four-year-old playing with a Playmobil figure. The audio is also spotty, and at times, you have no idea what’s going. As a pro tip, have subtitles activated.
The look of DOLLHOUSE can be quite attractive…when you can see it. The game is so dark that it’s very hard to see what is in front of you. DOLLHOUSE seems hellbent on making sure you don’t figure out its mysteries to the extent that it punishes you for even trying to explore the game at all.
There is a multiplayer, but unfortunately, I was unable to play since there is really no one playing it.
DOLLHOUSE has great ideas for an indie title, we just wish that we could see them fleshed out in a better way. With everything wrong with this title, it’s impossible to recommend.