Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Defibrillating Russian Mini-Horror: Fibrillation

Fibrillation is a short first-person psychological horror game by Egor Rezenov, currently available on Desura for $1.99 or as part of Kyttaro Games' Bundle in a Box (minimum price of $0.99). Officially dubbed a "mini-horror" game, Fibrillation takes about 20-30 minutes for a single playthrough as you wander about mysterious landscapes and locales, trying to figure out where you are and what's going on as you attempt to escape from a mysterious black cloud. 

Unlike other so-called horror games, the horror in Fibrillation isn't based on blood, gore, startle scares, menacing foes, or dark creepy environments. In fact, according to normal horror conventions, Fibrillation isn't much of a horror game, but it still manages to skirt the edge of the definition with enough bizarre content. The horror stems mainly from disorientation; you walk down a corridor and then suddenly find yourself in a completely different, unnatural area, trying to find a way out. It's a little unsettling, especially when compounded by the mysterious skull shrouded in a black cloud that seems to stalk you through the environments. 

All the gameplay really amounts to is walking. There's nothing to actually do in the game and there are no clear objectives. You just walk forward looking for the next new area, just so you can progress the game. When I first started playing, I really wanted a better motivating factor to continue going forward, at least some kind of basic explanation of who I was, where I was, or what was going on -- some kind of hook to lead me forward. It wasn't until the second half of the game that hints started cropping up and it finally became clear what was going on. The game became much more interesting at that point, and I really liked the gameplay mechanics of the final "decision," which didn't even seem like an option when I actually played it.

Unfortunately, parts of the game are intentionally boring and repetitive, in order to lull you into a state of complacency to make the disorienting changes and bizarre events effective. There was one part where I spent about seven minutes walking through a seemingly infinite span of corridor grids, my eyes glazed over from the sheer monotony, waiting for something to happen. Fibrillation is definitely not a game for people seeking instant gratification, and it has a couple kinks and flaws, but it can offer a decently cerebral experience for anyone seeking something a little different and out of the ordinary. 

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