As a fan of the old-school, tank-control/fixed-perspective, survival-horror games, I *really* wanted to like this game. It certainly has the potential to be the game that fans of the genre would want it to be, but is plagued by bugs, poor storytelling, sub-par animations, unsatisfying puzzles and combat, unwieldy control of the player and camera, and nonsensical game balance. I willAs a fan of the old-school, tank-control/fixed-perspective, survival-horror games, I *really* wanted to like this game. It certainly has the potential to be the game that fans of the genre would want it to be, but is plagued by bugs, poor storytelling, sub-par animations, unsatisfying puzzles and combat, unwieldy control of the player and camera, and nonsensical game balance. I will explain these more-or-less in their respective order.
I played Dawn of Fear for approximately two hours, and in that time encountered many issues/bugs that would just never make it past any quality-assurance, leading me to believe that this game had none. The first enemy you encounter that isn't a zombie has a tendency to walk into walls and get stuck. Going through a door- Resident Evil-style- is not a guarantee that what is on the other side is loaded fully; I saw hidden items in rooms I had not been to yet, because I entered an area that had not loaded (and did not load until I had gone two rooms away, and come back). Performance, even on a PS4 Pro, is laughable for a game that looks as simple as Dawn of Fear; the worst moments are when the camera ceases to be fixed-perspective and follows the player, painfully reminding you of the framerate dips. Furthermore, the games English localization was evidently not done by a native speaker, as it is very simplistic, and often with spelling errors. Similar to Resident Evil, the player can save a limited number of times at certain areas with "candels". Sometimes, there's only "one candels" left.
Regarding storytelling/progression flow, it is extremely two-dimensional, and highly predictable. I will avoid spoilers in this review, but I can say this; whatever you think is going to happen next while you're playing, will most likely happen. The game only caught me off-guard once or twice during the two hours of gameplay. The progression is largely similar to that of the classic Resident Evil titles, whereby progression is slowed by locked doors requiring certain keys. However, the problems here are two-fold; very few doors are marked with a certain key requirement, meaning that the player must interact with every door to find out if a key works. This isn't an issue, however, because the item description of any key- for no logical reason- tells you exactly which door it opens, and where the door is (non-spoiler example: "Key N: Key of ground floor hallway door"). In addition, the progression very compartmentalized, as in you will only have access to rooms and items relevant to the next puzzle you need to solve, which makes the game feel extremely linear in comparison to the survival-horror games this one is inspired by.
The poor animations of the game links nicely to the issues with combat and the overall 'jank' of the game. Opening a door to a new area makes the player-character look as though they've thrown their back out or something, and the door opening simply freezes all NPCs in whatever position they're in. The zombies are quite clearly powered by an AI script that simply walks towards the position of the player with very little path-finding, making avoiding them an inconvenience rather than a danger, as well as just looking rather ugly.
The puzzles are hard to review, both because details would spoil them, but also because different people might have different experiences with them. In my case, each puzzle took under a minute to solve, either because the puzzle was phenomenally easy, or because the puzzle's solution is- as with the keys and the doors- in the description of the relevant item(s). One would expect some puzzle solutions or hints to be included in the various documents scattered around, but having read all I found of them meticulously, this does not seem to be the case.
The combat, poor camera controls, and terrible game balance all merge into one unsatisfying experience. Your key weaponry in the game is a knife and a pistol, and one would assume that the pistol is the easier solution- with its limited ammunition- and the knife being the backup solution to the zombie problem. Alas, this is not the case, as the zombies are only vulnerable to shots in certain animations, meaning that you could potentially waste bullets shooting at the air. The knife, as it stuns zombies momentarily on hits, is ridiculously strong, and makes dealing with zombies- as stated earlier- an inconvenience as opposed to a real danger. Being that the zombies are the *only* danger, this is fundamentally flawed, and makes the gun- as well as the bullets- relatively useless.
I close by saying that Dawn of Fear may be a fun romp for die-hard fans of the survival-horror genre, but at €20, you can only be disappointed. It has the potential to be something so much better, with another half-a-year or more of development time and overall polishing, so all we can do is hope that the developers- should they decide to make a sequel- learn from their mistakes with this title.… Expand