The empowerment of arming the participant has all the time been considerably of a conundrum for the horror style.
Whereas essential to the participant’s survival, the inevitable firepower bestowed upon the participant will be detrimental to the fastidiously crafted horror components.
So, what occurs when the participant is stripped of that empowerment and trades of their gun for a lead pipe? Developer Monolith Productions wasted little time in establishing Condemned: Legal Origins defining tone, which holds up remarkably nicely 16 years after the sport’s launch. Channeling the aesthetic and brooding ambiance of iconic horror movies akin to David Fincher’s Seven, Condemned’s most distinctly distinctive function is its claustrophobia.
Very similar to the movies it emulates, the participant is dropped into an unforgiving and filth-covered world. Gamers tackle the position of FBI agent Ethan Thomas who finds himself framed for homicide by the very serial killer he’s searching. Making issues worse there’s a mysterious wave of violence plaguing Metro Metropolis, in some way tied to Ethan’s case.
Monolith Productions does a terrific job of immersing gamers into this uncomfortably suffocating world. Ethan’s fugitive standing forces him to undertake a “behind enemy strains” survivalist mentality that weaponizes his environment. Repurposing inconspicuous objects akin to 2×4’s, pipes, college desks, and even model arms into devices of loss of life turns into his DIY technique of survival. The inherently restricted vary of melee weapons makes fight an intimate affair as loss of life is rarely greater than an arm’s size away.
The result’s a brutally refreshing strategy to fight, as coming nose to nose together with your attackers provides a relentless, chilling spike of adrenaline. Whereas the melee mechanics are comparatively simplistic, the unpredictability of Condemned’s enemies permits it to keep away from overly devolving right into a senseless hack and slasher.
Crazed vagrants will feign accidents solely to lash out when Ethan closes in, weaponize their surroundings, and retreat round corners to arrange ambushes. For Ethan to outlive, he should change into that which hunts him.
And hunt him they’ll. Enemies will at instances actually burst by drywall or ceiling panels of their hunt for Ethan. Emphasizing melee fight might, on the floor, appear to be a gimmick when in fact, it sustains the sport’s horror aesthetic. The participant is in a relentless state of vulnerability, solely ever as protected as a well-timed block to counter an incoming swing of a pipe.
Periodically, Ethan will come across firearms although they’re usually something however dependable. Most weapons have lower than a handful of pictures or generally none in any respect. This lack of constant ammo provide provides yet one more layer of anxiety-inducing rigidity to fight, however extra importantly, ensures the participant by no means appears like a super-soldier.
Inversely, the unpredictable nature of firearms permits for moments of immense empowerment when the participant discovers a totally loaded one. This could shortly alter the course of sticky fight conditions however comes at a value. These moments of firepower superiority, whereas briefly rewarding, reveal how important melee fight is to the core of the sport’s identification. Had there been extra emphasis on firearms, the persistent sense of being hunted can be misplaced. The restricted and unreliable nature of weapons permits the power of its visceral melee fight to shine.
There may be additionally the seemingly inconsequential mechanic of ammo administration. There isn’t a continuous ammo HUD show, and the participant should activate a brief animation to verify their ammo provide manually. This animation leaves the participant momentarily susceptible and makes the already hectic dance of fight that rather more so. There’s nothing fairly like studying the exhausting approach that your shotgun is empty till an enemy is charging in the direction of you. That is yet one more cinematic high quality that gives a extra grounded horror expertise.
The close-quarters nature of fight works in tandem with Condemned’s suffocatingly claustrophobic environments. Leaving Ethan with little room to retreat or disguise, the environments actively push him to face his present risk. Whereas an deserted college and decrepit metro station aren’t essentially the most authentic horror settings, the distinction is how Monolith Productions presents their imaginative and prescient.
The studio’s means to inject nerve-wracking rigidity by refined particulars, usually attributable to distinctive sound design, exemplifies these inventory horror settings. Whether or not it’s toes shuffling above the participant or an enemy screaming incoherently from afar, Condemned’s world is an inherently risky place.
Sadly, Ethan Thomas’ story would by no means see a correct conclusion. Regardless of receiving a sequel three years after its launch with Condemned 2: Bloodshot, its marketing campaign would finish on a cliffhanger. The sequel was additionally a distinctly totally different sport by way of tone and gameplay focus. The main target shifted from an engrossingly grounded genuine crime ambiance in favor of an overtly supernatural one and an elevated emphasis on firearms.
What Condemned 2 did finest uncovered what makes the unique such a timeless horror basic. Condemned’s difficult participant empowerment and claustrophobic rigidity is interwoven into its basis, which permits the sport to carry up in addition to it does, 16 years later.