Title: Song of Horror – Episode 5: The Horror and The Song
Developer: Protocol Games
Publisher: Raiser Games
Genre: Survival Horror, Adventure, Episodic
Available On: PC
Official Site: Song of Horror
Release Date: May 28th, 2020
Version Tested: PC
Narratively and atmospherically, Song of Horror continues to deliver a bone-chilling experience that truly develops according to the player. While this finale chapter seems to drift away from those tailored scares, a thought-provoking end to this episodic adventure makes it w worth-while venture. However, a lack of growth and development in the more problematic areas has this tale finishing on somewhat of a flat note.
Song of Horror‘s fifth and final episode, “The Horror and The Song,”
It all comes together in this final episode. The horrors you witnessed. The answers you needed. The characters that you lost, and those who survived. And The Presence, now fully unleashed, connecting them all. The mental hospital Jeremy Hartwood holds your last chance to get rid of the cursed song. Build a bridge into the past to change the dooming future that awaits you, unraveling the origins of the eldritch entity that won’t let you go.
Song of Horror’s High Note
One thing this experience does really well is crafting interesting environments resonating with spooky atmosphere, and this episode does not disappoint. Most of the venture takes place in a run-down mental hospital where padded cells interrupt your ability to listen for danger, sheet-covered mannequins keep players peering over their shoulder and uncertainty lurks around every corner.
The series is known for introducing new mechanics with each episode, and “The Horror and The Song” plays with jumping back and forth in time. This takes the narrative to a new level as the player works to discover the secrets of the song through the past and the future simultaneously. Narratively, this could easily turn into a muddled mess, but it is done really well in this finale episode of Song of Horror.
This jumping back and forth in time eventually leads the player to a somewhat confusing end. I’m all for an ending that is up to interpretation, but I feel like there’s a little too much ambiguity around this ending. It an ending that works, but a part of me was left wanting for some more solid answers that don’t rely on a music box ex Machina.
Same Old, Same Old
One major problem was within the first few minutes of the game. I spent much more time than I would like to admit running around the open area trying to figure out what to do, and, eventually, turned to Youtube for the answer. There I found that the solution to this opening puzzle was so difficult that the developers released the solution on Steam the day of launch. I have no problem with difficult puzzles, but this was side quest was extremely aggravating.
That being said, Song of Horror has been an unforgiving experience since the beginning and not in a rewarding way. Grueling mini-games that go on for way too long make the character perma-death much more of a chore than it should be. Especially when you have to start the entire chapter over. This was extremely evident in this chapter. There are three characters to start with…. but I killed two of them in my playthrough of the first chapter. So, I only had two chances to make my way through this chapter, which was extremely frustrating. It’s not necessarily fair to punish players for mistakes made while trying to understand the mechanics of the unforgiving mini-games peppered throughout this experience.
Most of all, I was disappointed with the way that there is little to no growth or development in the problematic areas of this episodic tale. From the very first episodes, clunky controls and brutal mini-games that overextend their welcome have been a big issue, and they remain a huge issue in the final installment of the series.
Verdict: When it comes to narrative and atmosphere, Song of Horror really hits it out of the park, and that is consistent throughout all five chapters. It brings the scares in a new way, but, unfortunately, “The Horror and The Song” really lacks in the scare department. It’s not nearly as scary as the other chapters, which was somewhat of a letdown. Unforgiving mini-games and character perma-deaths made this final chapter more of a chore than anything else, which is probably the biggest bummer of all.
- Narratively strong
- Nice environments
- Time hopping story elements
- Unforgiving mini-games
- Lack of scares
- Clunky controls
- Unfair puzzle