When you've got tentacles, bleedin' through your walls, who ya gonna call?!... well, Jeff. See, Jeff and his coworkers are part of a sort of supernatural cleanup force, called in to deal with all the sorts of paranormal nastiness you and I can't handle. But he's no Dean or Sam... just a regular guy putting in his nine to five. So at the start of Cameron Kunzleman's linear interactive narrative/adventure game Catachresis, Jeff doesn't really think much is out of the ordinary at the job he's been called into. After all, cryptic writing, the moans of the nether... it's all just a paycheck to him. Nothing he can't handle... right?
Use the left and right [arrow] keys to move, press the up [arrow] to interact and advance text, and the down [arrow] when available to turn on and off the light. You can hit [S] to save your game, and [L] to load your last save. With no puzzles to speak off, it's almost tending more towards a piece of interactive art than anything else. With its clever writing and engaging premise, Catachresis feels like what could be the start of a really great, full-fledged adventure game if it were fleshed out more and stripped of some of the pointlessly long walking sequences. The concept of a regular Joe whose dayjob is dealing with this (and the accompanying paperwork) is refreshing after all the "YOU ARE THE CHOSEN ONE" Buffy-style premises in most media.
Catachresis has some simple yet effective atmosphere, and a great balance between dry humour and some genuinely chilling moments in its writing. If not for all that Cthulhu-cursed drawn-out walking, especially in the latter half of the game, it would be about the perfect little short-story style experience. There are definitely times when it feels drawn out for a perceived cinematic effect in a way that actually winds up a little frustrating and tedious instead. Some players will find it too slow, and others may feel that the latter half's more surreal, Lovecraft/Twin Peaksian tone is a bit much to take or doesn't quite fit with the rest of the setup. Your mileage will vary. For my part, Catachresis is an engaging slow boil of a story that pairs impressive characterisation with the sort of horror you don't see enough of these days... chilling, imaginative, large in scope... and completely without jump scares of any kind. Hopefully we see more of it.