Monstrum
Reviewed by Didi Cardoso
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2015-10-18 PC Survival/Horror M (Mature) Team Junkfish

As a follow-up on the scary games front, and because my screams are apparently extremely entertaining to my friends, I received Monstrum as a gift from my most excellent gaming buddy, Michael. Initially, we thought we could play it together, but as it turns out, Monstrum is a single-player survival horror game where you play as the last man standing on a cargo ship stranded in the middle of the Pacific.

I really had no idea what I was getting myself into, so for our first time playing, Michael and I both decided to start the game at the same time and be on voice chat with each other for emotional support... of sorts. It took me a little while to realize that the game is randomly generated, so even while we started at the same time, we were in different parts of the ship and the items weren't the same.

Monstrum is pretty creepy straight away. Here you are, in a ship where something went very, very wrong. You discover notes that will reveal bits of what happened, explore to find useful items, and try to find information about your possible escape routes. There are three available: the helicopter, the submarine and the life raft. All in need of some kind of repair, of course, and your task is to find what you need to repair them (the parts can be anywhere on the ship) while at the same time avoiding whatever creature is trying to get you.

At the same time, and for someone who is trying to sneak around a ship, your character makes a whole lot of noise opening and closing doors, and even just walking.

The controls seemed a little weird at first, but then again, I'm clumsy. I lost items so many times by dropping them because I kept pressing the wrong key. Sometimes I was able to pick them back up, other times they'd just disappear as if swallowed by some invisible black hole.

Your inventory has limited space, so you must think before you pick things up. You begin with nothing but a flashlight, which eventually will run out of batteries. Fortunately, there are glow sticks scattered around the ship, and they do stack. Most items don't though, so be prepared to be running back and forth a lot when you find one of the pieces required to fix one of the escape routes.

The first time I heard other footsteps other than mine I almost died of a heart attack. Monstrum does a fantastic job using sound to keep the atmosphere throughout the entire experience, and it's not just about jump scares. Sure, many times I got caught running in fear only to turn a corner and find the monster waiting for me, but a lot of the uneasy, panic feeling (and the fun) comes from trying to sneak around when you spot them in the distance, hiding under tables hoping they don't see you, locking yourself in a locker and waiting for the danger to pass, or using items to create distractions.

After a few games I started thinking "Well, this isn't as scary anymore". And then the big stomping creature surprised me by completely destroying the door to the room I was hiding in! When I finally began to get used to listening to the little alien's squishy footsteps, it still managed to scare the crap out of me by sneaking around corners or coming through vents on the ceiling. Even the damn alarms from the surveillance cameras startle me!

I did feel somewhat invincible when I discovered that I could use the fire extinguisher as a defense weapon, but that's only a temporary distraction that lets you get away but also makes the creature very, very angry.

I don't think I've ever swore so much playing a game... or said OMG and WTF so many times in such a short period of time. I also never screamed in fear with anything else this much, nor got left shaking! Not even in Damned. Monstrum is a great game, and it becomes more challenging with each little fix or update. And of course, it is best played in the dark and complete silence.

The only thing that I can really complain about, and it's not so much a complain but a suggestion, is that there should have been a multiplayer option. It would have been a blast to be able to play with someone else.

Monstrum was still in Early Access on Steam while I was playing it and a long time passed before I went back to it.Eventually, a new update notified me of a new creature, so I went back for a few more freak outs, strange noises, the most incoherent babbling I've ever done, and the added bonus of tripping and falling while in a panic. And to learn not to hide in the exterior lockers. Just watch the "OMG AHHH!" video above to see what I'm talking about.

In all these attempts, I still haven't found my way out of this damned ship, yet I look forward to seeing more creatures and getting scared some more! Who knows, maybe one day we will be able to play co-op and I won't feel so panicky, desperate and alone. Until then, I'll still be occasionally trying to repair one of the escape routes while being scared shitless on occasion. In the meantime, feel free to browse the playlist below, but be warned: prepare your ears for some serious screaming, copious amounts of swearing, increasing amounts of OMG, and a whole lot of gasping and hyperventilating.