An Unsettling Encounter: Anthology of Fear Review – Is It Really Worth It?

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| October 21, 2023

Well, we all know how I just LOVE horror games (sarcasm), but seeing as it’s the spooky season, when Ultimate Games S.A. reached out with a game code for review, I thought, ‘Sure, maybe this is worth a shot’! So I brought it to Twitch and shared an evening of psychological horror with this community, but was it worth the shot? Ummm… kinda?

First Nightmare Hallway

So let me start off by saying that although I’m not a typical Horror genre fan, I have been playing horror games on the Couch Soup Youtube channel for my show Craic’d for well over a year now, and I think – much to my disdain- I think I’m starting to like it. I played Layers of Fear years ago while streaming. It was honestly one of the most intense and brilliant horror games I’ve ever played.

So when Anthology of Fear was presented to me as a game code with the description that it was a similar style of experiential horror game (rather than the pow-pow bang-bang shooty kind), I was so excited to play it. However, I have to admit that this game fell far below par compared to Layers of Fear, and although the game was definitely filled with some good design, lighting, and atmospheric tension, some of the jumpscare tropes fell short.

Knock Knock.. Frame from Alice’s nightmare
Knock Knock.. Frame from Alice’s nightmare

You begin the game as a detective of some kind, trying to find answers in a closed medical facility that experimented with recording the nightmares/dreams of their patients. While looking for answers to your brother’s death, as the player Ethan, you’ll dive into the nightmares of not only the patient in question but also a staff member who may have been partly responsible for the death of your person of interest. 

The nightmare realms are beautifully lit and, in my opinion, well-designed. However, the game relied on some typical horror/jumpscare tropes that could sometimes feel a bit dated and nonunique. For example, a chair might move quickly across the hall, but the movement lacked pre-built tension and thus failed to even earn a ‘gasp’ from me as I played, or there might be bloody parts or even a squirmy bloody mess in a sink with crying emanating from it, very reminiscent of P.T. the demo created by Hideo Kojima.

Crying blood goo similar to Hideo Kojima’s P.T., found in Alice’s Nightmare
Crying blood goo similar to Hideo Kojima’s P.T., found in Alice’s Nightmare

The story, too, is somewhat convoluted and a little hard to follow at times. It also deals with some very heavy topics and child harm, which I felt was more for shock value rather than to strengthen the story. The story led to an interesting intersection between a patient and a staff member’s nightmares, but the staff member’s (Alice) dream, in particular, felt really odd and, although shockingly violent, felt underwhelming as a whole. 

It’s not all negative, though; I do have to say that I did rather enjoy the experience of the game with a live-stream community. There were definitely the occasional mannequin jumpscares that got me good, and the poem puzzle was particularly interesting.

The game definitely has some janky feeling controls (especially played on Xbox), but I did feel that my community on stream did enjoy the experience of horror puzzle solving as much as I did. 

Because of this, I would definitely recommend this game to a streamer or anyone playing with friends, as I felt a lot of enjoyment out of discussing puzzles and guessing story plotlines with others, much more than I would have if I had played this on my own. 

The game retails for $9.99 on Steam or $8.99 on Xbox, and honestly, I think that’s a fair price to pay for it. The game is well enough designed with some great lighting and design throughout, and it would make a great game for a live stream player. Other than that, I would probably recommend alternative horror games if you’re playing on Xbox or by yourself. 

5/10  soup cans. It’s soupy, but could be soupier. 

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