A little while back, I covered a news piece on Stitched. A new indie horror adventure game that looked very promising from the trailer. And now, the time has come to review it. For anyone who didn’t read the news piece, I’ll tell you a little about the game. Stitched tells the story of a girl who wakes up in her father’s doll factory after being in a terrible train crash. With no recollection of what happened or why she is there, she must find her way out. But, not is all as it seems. I dived head first into this game, not really knowing what to expect. So, let’s get down to business.
Stitched follows the story of Catherine, a student who was travelling home for the winter holiday. Unfortunately, disaster struck and her train crashed before she made it home. When she comes to, Catherine finds herself in a strange place. She also discovers that she has been stitched….literally. This isn’t the only oddity however. There are living dolls roaming the corridors; blood covers every room. What happened here? Why are the dolls alive? Why does this giant evil teddy bear want to kill me? That is what Catherine must discover as she attempts to find her way out of her father’s doll factory.
It may not be a very original story line (then again what is nowadays?) but I love it. It doesn’t need to be overly complex or filled with too many twists and turns. Although there are a couple of nice little twists the further through you get, they don’t feel contrived. I would say that some of the story telling feels a little out of place at times. Like it has just been thrown in to remind you there is a story. These moments are a bit jarring to read but they are forgivable. I really enjoyed the story of this game even if it wasn’t always evident that there was one.
You would think that being a RPG style game that the gameplay was limited. But, there is actually a lot to this game. Especially when it comes to puzzles. Stitched is abundant with puzzles. Mostly, they are quite simple puzzles like finding unscrambling letters for a password. Others, not so much. For the most part I enjoy the puzzles. They’re challenging and you feel a sense of accomplishment when you solve them. However, there are a few that were just down right confusing and not overly obvious as to how you were supposed to solve them.
For the most part, I found myself guessing with some of them rather than actually using my brain. That being said, I still thought the majority were clever and each one slightly different. Despite the fact that the entire game is simply a key hunt, it mixes it in with some interesting story moments and puzzles which is more than agreeable.
Fright Metre Feature
The one thing I did find frustrating however was the fright metre. Although a very key part of the game, and an interesting one at that, at times it became infuriating. The idea behind it is that every time Catherine gets scared, the higher the metre climbs. If it reaches 100%, she dies. This feature in and off itself is actually quite clever and forces you to be careful about how you play. Unfortunately, she gets frightened every time you step through a pool of blood. And believe me when I say there is no shortage of blood. This wouldn’t be a problem in most situations but mingled with the constant threat of the living dolls, it becomes very tedious very quickly.
The dolls move sporadically and are in the most annoying places to navigate. I can see why they did this. It was to make it more challenging. But, when you are trying to navigate around holes in the floor while avoiding these dolls it becomes harder to not step into this spots of blood. On more than one occasion I found myself in this situation. And, the even more annoying part is that if you bump into one of these dolls (which by the way is very easy to do) your fright metre is increased. Can you see the problem here? Yes, it should be challenging but not at the expense of my sanity.
Graphics & Sound
I really love the art style of this game. For the most part, it is done in the classic RPG style. But, occasionally, we are treated to some nice little cut away stills that are beautifully hand drawn. The character designs are great and very much reflect the world they are in. My favourite graphic elements though are the stills of the monster encounters. There are some great ones throughout the game play and they really add to the atmosphere. Especially, towards the beginning of the game when Catherine is subjected to the horrors that are the doll factory. The sound design is also quite well done. I’m not sure how much was actually made for the game but nevertheless, none of it feels out of place.
There is even the nice touch of a little bit of voice acting. It isn’t very often but it is a nice touch when it does happen. Although I will admit the first time Catherine spoke it startled me. I can see some people not enjoying that there are elements of voice acting but I really liked it. I really felt like it added something else to the game.
As you might expect from an RPG game, the controls are pretty basic. You use the arrow keys to move and the Space bar (or Enter) to interact with things. I would say that controlling the character was a challenge for me but I think that says more about my gaming skill than anything else. As previously mentioned, navigating certain areas was a pain and trying to avoid the blood becomes increasingly difficult when you are being chased by a giant teddy bear that wants to eat you. Everything else was pretty straight forward.
I think I’ve already touched on this a bit but I will state again. This game isn’t hard. It is challenging and sometimes frustratingly so. The puzzles especially as they don’t seem to get increasingly more difficult they are quite random in terms of how challenging they are. The other thing I wanted to bring up are the difficulties of getting around. By this, I mean actually navigating the map. I often found myself going back and forth throughout the different levels. Especially when the map isn’t very clear. It doesn’t really show you where you are and the objectives are sometimes a bit vague which makes finding your way around harder. It isn’t a huge problem but I did spend a good fifteen minutes trying to find out how to progress to the next section at one point.
Again, this is more of an annoyance than anything else. I don’t think it takes away from the overall awesomeness of the game.
I’m not how replayable this game is but mostly I don’t think that really matters. It’s an enjoyable experience that really you only need to play through once. And the play through time is reasonable enough as well. For saying you’re paying about £6 you get at least 6 hours of gameplay out of it. And, if you take forever to solve puzzles like I do, you get even longer! I think value for money is fair considering how much is actually in this game. Which is why I don’t think it needs to be replayable really at all. Like with any game, if you want to come back to it at a later date, you could but it wouldn’t be a disaster if you didn’t.
Stitched is available on Steam right now.