Phantaruk PC Review
The survival horror genre has been growing recently and Polyslash have joined the fray with Phantaruk, a survival horror game with adventure and stealth mechanics.
The game is set aboard a research spaceship vessel (Purity-02) which is the setting for all manner of experiments with an aim to create a post-human being. This can only end in one way right? Well that is exactly where is goes. You wake up aboard the vessel in what I can only assume is your quarters with some of the power out or maybe just permanently set on dim. The aim of this game is to escape the ship whilst avoiding your new weird shipmates that you have been helping create.
If the risk of being killed by and unseen lumbering creature isn’t enough you seem to be infected with some kind of brain parasite that is emitting some form of chemical which is slowly killing you. You must find and administer a drug through a syringe that seems to be readily available throughout the ship. You do have to keep an eye on it though as it can creep up on you stealing your life away and leave you wondering why? Only to then realise you forgot to check that handy little pip-boy like computer on your arm which shows you your vitals and the level of toxicity that pesky little brain parasite has emitted.
Phantaruk borrows heavily from many other games out there and has been likened to Alien Isolation which it is very similar to. SOMA is another game that comes to mine when playing Phantaruk as the creatures roaming the ship cannot be looked at directly as they appear to affect your vision, something which is a main theme throughout SOMA. Unlike Alien Isolation it has less jump scares and does seem to be unable to prolong the tension during the game which is something a horror survival needs.
The story overall felt very weak with the most interesting parts of it coming from the history of past events you find laying around the deserted ship. The narrative that plays out throughout the game just feels weak in comparison to the rich back story based around a god (Phantaruk) and a cult sharing the same name. The history leading up to the current time details about a virus that is responsible for killing a lot of people on earth and information regarding patient zero and vectors who spread the virus. Don’t get me wrong there is indeed a solid base for a story in the game but it is never really fleshed out.
Gameplay is simple with very few keys which is good especially when you are playing a horror game as it’s quite easy to get a little engrossed and forget keys. Phantaruk doesn’t have this problem and it keeps things simple. The controller support is indeed partial as stated on their steam page. This game would be a lot better with a controller although the key mappings were a little weird. On plugging in my Xbox controller my character crouched down and I could not get him to stand up again without removing the controller.
The visuals in the game are actually very good for an indie title. There is at one point a brain with leg like appendages which reminds me of a headcrab. The lighting in the game seemed to bloom just a little too far meaning most of the dark areas where just kind of grey. Sounds in the game were good and did help to build tension.
Unfortunately, the story never really got going in the game and with the slow crawl through a pretty much lifeless ship this made the game a little underwhelming. The story lasts anywhere between 2 -3 hours depending on how slow you take it and just feels too short and I’m not sure I ever really saw those stealth mechanics.