Today I decided to dive into the horror visual novel genre whilst scoping out the Steam Game Festival and stumbled upon this very strange title, The Mortuary Assistant. At first glance, the cover photo that’s presented on Steam looked far creepier with some guy with glowing yellow eyeballs glaring right back at you. While I wasn’t keen on how cliche the cover art looked I decided to try the game out in hopes that it may scare me or at least get me uncomfortable.
When you head to the start-up screen, the visuals already give the tone of the oppressively dark atmosphere of the setting you’re about to journey into. What more, is that I already assumed that we either got looked in the mortuary by accident with a cursed body, or I get called into work to work on a recently deceased individual. After a few adjustments, I started the game with low expectations to keep me from over-hyping something and then becoming deflated if the game turned out to be worse than anticipated.
The game starts out with a fairly dark screen with the main character getting a phone call from their boss, apparently, Boss Man retrieved a body late into the evening but is unable to perform the cleanup procedures due to something urgent popping up. As a fairly new assistant, you question your boss if it is alright for you to perform the cleaning out of the body without supervision. Boss Man tells you he has the utmost faith in you to take care of things as he’s seen your work and that he’ll also leave a checklist just in case.
Gray’s Opinion: “I felt this was an uncomfortable situation, reasonings is it is late in the night and I’m already home. Another problem I felt particularly uncomfortable is how he nonchalantly stated he will leave me a check list and that everything else will be dandy…”
I digress, you agree to head in and work on the cadaver alone and at night in the practically empty mortuary (except for the dead body). You find the checklist with a little scribbled note from your boss thanking you for coming in, and thus, you begin the game as you open the door and find the body prepped and ready. It was at this moment after I opened the door, the music changed into a dark sinister sound as the sounds of thunder could be heard from above.
In order to progress through the first part of the story, you have to complete the task list that was collected in the beginning of the shift. Moving around the room proved slightly difficult with the movement keys, but that was the least of my worries as when I reopened my task list to check what items I needed. Someone else besides my boss decided to leave me a pleasant message for the night, albeit, I was offended that they wrote over my file and not in the corner.
I was particularly not amused at this point as when you do look at the sheet again, a loud roar of thunder hails down and scares the living daylights out of you (if you are using headphones).
However, the love note disappears as you do a double-take on the list and everything seems to go back to normal… For a few minutes. Collecting the items and preparing the work table, everything seems to be going smoothly as you work around the body. When you’ve finally checked off at least half of the tasks at hand and you’re about to pierce the flesh of the cadaver.
The woman’s eyes flare open and she begins to mumble something practically incoherent as everything around you starts to break out into a high pitch wave of whispers. Your senses are practically flooded with random low tones and high frequencies that when your mind is trying to catch up to what is occurring, the whole mortuary goes into a blackout mode.
When the lights flicker back on, the whole room is littered with strange markings scrawled upon the walls and ceiling, and the body… is gone. Rain and thunder seem to be mocking you as you start to hear something thudding against the wall outside of the room. I started to get unnerved by the banging noise, and at this point, I was practically forcing the character to try and pick up the Trochar tool as a weapon.
But, because this is a horror game, no scary game is complete without a helpless main character who flings the door open without a weapon and stares at said dead body down the hall. Which now happens to be having an intimate moment with the mortuary wall, you slowly have to walk your way towards the thing, and then… Get yelled at for the last half of the demo.
I’m not sure if I’m just being a bit too sarcastic about the game itself, as I do feel it does have potential and this was a demo. My hopes are that in the final touches of the game they will actually give the main character a weapon, and the controls for the character won’t be as sticky. I do feel the game has promise, and I plan to follow the game creators on their progress to see how the game will end up on its true release.