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UnderDread Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Even if you can get beyond the generic location and outdated visuals, UnderDread is a game plagued with one bad design decision after another. From the terrible fetch quests to the amount of time you'll spend backtracking, the only thing scary about UnderDread is how frustrating it is. Rating: 30%
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  • Review Score:

  • D+
I think it's time to admit that the makers of horror games have a problem. With literally endless locations to choose from, they always seem to come back to haunted mansions and creepy castles. Admittedly, the dim lighting and once lived-in aesthetic is conducive to scary stories, but I'm starting to think I know more about mansions than Robin Leach. And after spending the night avoiding ghosts in UnderDread, I'm confident I'll never get my champagne wishes and caviar dreams.

This is the story of a simple traveler who freaks out when his daughter vanishes out of thin air. As it turns out, this has been happening a lot in the nearby village, and many of the townsfolk are pointing fingers at the creepy old castle on the hill. Desperate to get his daughter back, our hero springs into action and sets out on an adventure that is a lot more frustrating than it is scary.

Armed with only a lantern, the emotional father spends most of his time scouring the castle's many rooms in hopes of picking up notes and clues to his daughter's whereabouts. This quickly turns into solving a bunch of puzzles, all of which see players opening drawers and cabinets in hopes of finding some sort of key. Our hero will be just as disappointed as the player when he realizes that this is basically everything you do in UnderDread.

Instead of coming up with well-crafted puzzles, we are tasked with a lot of fetch quests. At first it's just square pegs, but that turns into tracking down small switches, picking up daggers, finding holy water and so on so forth. It's a lot of busywork, all while you wait for something exciting to happen. The problem is that nothing exciting happens; you just wander around bland environments hoping to avoid the skeletal ghost creature.

Oh, did I forget to mention that UnderDread has a bad habit of mixing the scavenger hunt with some truly terrible stealth segments? You'll spend a lot of the game hiding from the ghosts in pre-approved safe zones. It's never clear how good the ghost's eyesight is, so we're stuck hiding in only a few spots. And if you accidentally leave that area, the ghost will rush you for a one-hit kill.

UnderDread (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

Believe it or not, the cheap deaths are far from UnderDread's biggest problem. So much of this game is hunting down tiny objects that don't stand out from the background in any way. It's easy to miss the ritual daggers on the bookshelf because everything is so cluttered, and there are other times when you have no idea what our hero is looking for.

And that's not even the worst part of it; you'll spend most of the game backtracking for no reason. You can't just pick up all of the items in one go, you'll need to run back through the terrible stealth sections over and over again, always looking for different items. And since it's never clear what you're looking for or its general whereabouts, you're forced to rely on the help button to guide the way.

The game does eventually expand beyond the castle walls, but it results in a lot more of the same. Without a compelling story pushing things forward and gameplay that resembles that one time you tore the house apart looking for your misplaced keys, I suspect most people will lose interest in UnderDread quickly.

UnderDread (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

The outdated visuals don't help any. It's not just the repeating textures, but also how dark everything is. There's nothing about this world that is compelling, and all of the scares come from loud noises in the distance or something jumping on the screen. The frights are never earned and often come across as corny.

I can forgive outdated visuals and an uninspired location, but the game has to be filled with some more intriguing looking high and low for tiny objects. This is a game that would have been a quarter of the length if it wasn't for the unnecessary backtracking. Like haunted mansions and spooky castles, UnderDread is to be avoided at all costs.
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