Uncanny Valley

Brought to us by Cowardly Creations, Uncanny Valley is an action-consequence, horror/survival adventure game with a lot of pixelated fun to give on a very short shift.

Uncanny Valley starts with our character Tom. He is wandering around in a back alley, trying to find his way around. Once he escapes the area he is quickly set upon by some dark figures with glowing eyes, which culminate into a tidal wave around him. Stirring him from his sleep, we realise it’s just a bad dream. Tom informs us that this is a frequent event.

In order to escape these terrors and clear his head, Tom leaves the city and starts his new job as a security guard at Melior, a rather large research facility, with another security guard, Buck. Heading back to the facility, your fellow guard takes you on a quick tour of the facility, showing you the office, warehouse door and a set of lifts- one of which he informs you accesses the lower floors and does not require a patrol. This lift requires two access cards, which you do not currently have.

It quickly becomes apparent to Tom that his patrol duties are limited to the general lift and floors above, the apartment, the power station and the woods in between. The lower floors are definitely a no go- but this only makes them more intriguing…

Buck immediately sends Tom to the apartment to collect his uniform. At this point you are able to take a walk around opening the few doors that are not locked, and picking up a few odds and ends including a key, access card, etc. When he returns to the facility Tom is left to continue his first shift alone. It’s during this time that you are made aware that Tom is escaping from something: whether it be just a nightmare or maybe more is not clearly defined.

Pressing down on the right joystick, the game shows you Tom’s shift time remaining. As with any good survival game, Uncanny Valley is also allocated into days. A short time before the timer indicates the end of his shift, you are given a warning that Tom is tired and should return to his bed. If you fail to do so Tom will collapse on the floor in exhaustion and return to a dream realm anyway.

The dream realm has reoccurring themes, with monsters and giant hands, shadow characters, ugly and deformed child-like creatures. While Tom can run it is only in short bursts before all he can do is walk. This leaves you very vulnerable to the creatures chasing and tormenting you. Each time these assailants capture you and you are awoken into a feverish state of reality only to begin your next shift.
A few dreams in there is a red light that is noticed from the bathroom wall of Tom’s room. It’s not explained and Tom cannot investigate it at this time, but it gives you the eerie sense that Tom is being watched and that there is something more sinister going on.

As well as the other security guard, Tom also meets a character named Eve. She introduces herself as the cleaner and duty manager of the apartments, even though there are so few tenants. Discussions with her reveal that her partner used to work at the facility until he died, and she has never left.

Walking around the facility on your night shift you can switch on computers, collect tapes and find items like key cards. Computers allow you to read emails sent and received between staff members which give you hints of the low morale, animosity and inter-office relationships that had occurred. Meanwhile the tapes will hint at the project the facility has been working on- some kind of AI that seems to have discovered empathy.

Without divulging the rest of the treats this game has to offer, it’s safe to say Tom has plenty of information to sort through and many scandals uncover.

The controls of the game are pretty simple but do not initially feel natural. Swapping movement control from the left joystick to the d-pad made it a constant effort on my part to remember how to get around. One other point particular to console versions, is while accessing your inventory you need to navigate across the screen to a rather narrow area in order to select and use an item. This isn’t always a quick process and could be a difficulty in a time critical moment. While this is minor, it did affect my enjoyment in the beginning. Otherwise the controls are fairly intuitive.

A point of high praise from me is the lack of lengthy load screens. I never felt hampered or like I had to wait too long for the next area to be accessible. This is a big plus in a game which may require you to access the same areas repeatedly.

The graphics are designed to look like a 1980s game with heavy pixels. It gives a sense of nostalgia but there’s an underlying sense that the game has more polish than a game from the 80s would. The text used during conversations matches this style as well and, while it can be a little difficult to read at times it lends itself very well to the look the creators have tried to achieve here. Conversations are brief however and get to the point quickly- there are no lengthy conversations for the sake of having them. Instead the game pushes you into action with short deadlines.

Many outdoor scenes during your night shift are almost completely black, leaving you with just the light from your torch to see around you. This immerses you into the feeling of terror about what might be around the next corner, or even right in front of you. You begin to feel anxious for Tom and step with some trepidation into each new scene- never knowing whether it might hold some of the dark figures who already haunt his dreams.

The soundtrack is eerie when present, and brings a sense of unease when it’s missing leaving only your footsteps to echo around the open spaces. At the beginning of each day a foreboding tune plays to remind you that Toms days are limited.

Mini-games also make a feature in Uncanny Valley and are used to compete tasks in game. For example the first mini-game you will come across is a puzzle you need to solve in order to reconnect terminals and restore power to the grid. While not overly challenging to begin with it does require some forethought and is a nice addition to keep things interesting.

Uncanny Valley is a challenging game- with objectives not predefined but rather discovered you can find yourself searching everywhere for the next step to move the story along. There are multiple possible endings you can achieve but finding them is not a clear process so it definitely comes down to trial and error and a LOT of walking back and forth. Get the game moving however and you’ll find your gory ending approaching swiftly.

Boasting multiple gruesome endings, Uncanny Valley has plenty of replayability and will be an achievement hunter’s dream. If sadistic endings are your bag, Uncanny Valley is going to fill it for you.

Uncanny Valley is available on PC, PS4, Xbox One and Vita.


Remutha, or Rem, has been writing for 8 years. Combining this with a love of video games Rem has been writing game reviews for 2 years.

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