The Man­nequin

Time is se­ri­ously bro­ken in this haunted Lon­don house

PC GAMER (UK) - - Contents - Andy Kelly

I turn my back on the man­nequin I’ve re­built, and when I turn back it’s gone

The house, scene of a grue­some un­solved mur­der, has been left rot­ting for sixty years. Your fam­ily de­cides to sell it and sends you to see what state it’s in. You ex­plore the dusty, for­got­ten house by the glow of your phone’s flash­light. There’s fur­ni­ture draped in white sheets, cob­webs in the cor­ners, and piles of un­read mail. Then you reach the at­tic and see a plas­tic man­nequin, its head and limbs scat­tered around it. You pick up each piece, slot­ting it back in. And that’s when things start get­ting scary.

TheMan­nequin is a nar­ra­tive-fo­cused first-per­son hor­ror game be­ing de­vel­oped by a small team based in Ox­ford­shire. The first thing that strikes me when I play it is the stylish art style. Sur­vival game The

LongDark seems to have been an in­spi­ra­tion, par­tic­u­larly how it mixes re­al­is­tic light­ing with tex­tures that look hand-painted. De­vel­oper Two Tails says the game is about “ter­ror and tragedy” as you try to un­cover the truth about what re­ally hap­pened in the house, and I’m def­i­nitely in­trigued to find out.

I turn my back on the man­nequin I’ve just re­built, and when I turn back it’s gone. This is a hor­ror game, af­ter all. Two Tails de­scribes the creepy, dead-eyed thing as a “malev­o­lent en­tity” and you’ll spend the game be­ing stalked by it. Things get in­ter­est­ing when I hear mu­sic play­ing down­stairs, only to en­ter the lounge and find the pre­vi­ously aban­doned, dust­cov­ered room back in its prime. There’s brand new fur­ni­ture and a crack­ling fire. This time-shift­ing is a big part of the story, which moves you fre­quently be­tween the present day and 1958.

Oc­ca­sion­ally I walk into a room, only to find creepy posed man­nequins act­ing out mo­ments from the house’s sto­ried past. It’s a nice twist on the ghostly ap­pari­tions that usu­ally haunt these games, and there’s some­thing un­nerv­ing about the way the fig­ures just stand there with their blank faces. But, a sense of rum­bling un­ease aside, the game isn’t ter­ri­bly scary at the mo­ment. The man­nequin’s ap­pear­ances are sud­den and un­ex­pected, but it has none of the in­tim­i­dat­ing pres­ence of the crea­tures from games like

Am­ne­sia or Soma. I mean, it can’t even walk. It just stands there look­ing at you.

doll’s house

But TheMan­nequin still has a long way to go, and while I can’t say the tit­u­lar plas­tic doll re­ally ter­ri­fied me, I do want to learn more about this creaky old house and the grim things that hap­pened here. I love the visual style and the at­mos­phere, but it’s the story that will ul­ti­mately de­ter­mine whether this sits among the best of the genre. I do like the con­cept of a story fo­cus­ing on a sin­gle lo­ca­tion and cross­ing be­tween time pe­ri­ods, and I hope the writ­ers make good use of this to spin a suit­ably creepy, mind-bend­ing yarn.

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