Yes, Halloween is just around the coroner, so we're still bringing it with the creepy games. This week's escape game is a lovely little delight called Absence. Created by Selfdefiant, creator of Kidnapped by Aliens, Absence is a fun, quick little escape from an abandoned building that may be haunted.
As the prologue informs, this so-called "haunted" building is a favorite place for you and your friend Amy to hang out. Not to go inside, mind, just hang out on the grounds. Not that you're afraid, or anything. Really. As the game begins you arrive to find Amy missing, the only clue is her lovely pink backpack dropped on the ground in front of the suddenly open building. Does that mean Amy decided to go in? Perhaps you'd better go in as well. I'm sure it's not dangerous at all...
Once you're in, of course, you find out that (1) yes, the building is indeed haunted, and (2)... well, you'll just have to find out for yourself. Let's just start exploring...
Navigation is quick and simple. Hover your cursor over a door or hallway and a hand will appear that you can click to go in that direction. Objects that can be clicked on or manipulated cause the cursor to change to a handy hand, cutting way down on the pixel hunting. If the music becomes too annoying you can turn it off in the handy menu. Items that you pick up are hidden until you click on the "items" button, keeping the on-screen clutter to a minimum.
Analysis: Absence is a bit of a departure from Selfdefiant's usual simple hand-drawn style. The backgrounds appear to be actual photographs of a real abandoned building. This gives the game a creepy realism not usually seen. In fact, after exploring the torn apart, grafiti'd, trash filled rooms you might want to take a shower, it's that realistic. The ominous music adds to the creepy factor.
But the game is not perfect. Despite its beautiful (if you like that sort of thing) look, gameplay can be rather simple. The puzzles could have used a bit of beefing up. It almost feels as if an opportunity has been missed, as so much more could have been added. Nevertheless, what is there is fun to play.
Absence is creepy, but not scary. Nothing is going to jump out at you, there's nothing in the rooms apart from lots of trash. There's a little bit of blood, but no gore. As stated before there are puzzles but they are not very difficult. Absence is the type of game that personifies casual gameplay. Fire it up while taking a few minutes away from other tasks, and just enjoy the spooky atmosphere without worrying you'll have a heart attack.