Autumn is here and the weather is finally cooling off (sort of). That means a lot of pumpkin spice, scary movies, and video games. There is no shortage of horror-themed video games, with many of these games being games that emphasize psychological horror. To say psychological horror has already been explored is an understatement, but every year there are a handful of games where you can solve your mental issues by fighting (or avoiding) literal demons and other nightmarish manifestations. In fine fettle is made by the developers of popular Half Life 2 fashion Nightmare House 2, so with a pedigree like that, you’d expect something that really stood out, right? Well, sort of. Although there are clever ideas, In fine fettle follows a well-marked path.
In fine fettle is a first person survival horror game. You play as Desmond, a person trapped in his own mind who must suffer through his memories and those of his patients. Filled with strange creatures and nightmarish horrors, you must go through difficult memories as you solve puzzles, defeat monsters, and uncover the truth about your predicament. As you make your way through these nightmare locations, you will be pursued by a grim, mocking presence that will criticize, challenge, and attempt to kill you. It sounds like a great recipe for having a good time, but I’m afraid it doesn’t do enough to stand out.
It doesn’t mean that In fine fettle doesn’t have a few smart mechanics. At the start of the game there is a section where you have to use a shard of glass to scare an apparition that doesn’t like looking in the mirror. But on the other hand, that same glass is then used as a way to drill into wooden planks, which is just confusing.
In fine fettle more often falls into genre tropes too often, however. There is the flashlight with batteries that run out too quickly (although there are batteries for that everywhere). There are the memories which are explored through found paper and audio recordings. There are the trippy dream sequences, etc. There is even a mechanism to avoid the enemy, until there is none. Eventually you get a gun, which is a weirdly refreshing change of pace for such a game. But the shooter is mediocre and suffers from a weird not really iron aim where the character looks more towards the side. ‘armed. Why?
One of my biggest complaints from In fine fettle is that he suffers from feeling like a haunted house. Each of the memories you explore, the weird encounters you have, the nightmares you experience, all of them have a funny sense of attraction to them. It’s like designing a haunted house game, with different memorabilia serving almost as different themes for the haunted house sections, with Desmond’s office and apartment building serving as a kind of central world. . The more you play, the more you can explore the building, producing more tapes, more memories, etc.
In fine fettle encourages exploration through many secrets, especially stat enhancing pills. Finding a number of different pills of certain varieties can boost your speed, health, stealth, and stamina, with three pills needed to boost your stats by one. I never really bothered to try to maximize my character, and In fine fettle never felt more difficult because of it.
In fine fettle is a decent survival horror game that too often gets bogged down in my predictable genre tropes. There have been a few times that I have been truly entertained, but literally never have I felt suspense or fear, not even from a distance. Everything looks too much like a theme park attraction or haunted house, even most enemies feel more of an annoyance than something to be feared. If you can’t wait to get your horror fix early this year, In fine fettle is an option, but there is much better.
An Xbox Series X | S key has been provided to us for the purposes of this review.
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Categories: Game, Games & Tech, Review