2018’s Remothered: Tormented Fathers was considered to be a modern spiritual successor to iconic survival horror game Clock Tower. But what it had in atmosphere and tension, it lacked in both fundamentals and refinement. Despite some modest success, it largely went under the radar. Remothered: Broken Porcelain is the upcoming sequel, and developer Stormind Games is attempting to polish the formula and invigorate the survival horror genre with a new, terrifying experience.
In Remothered: Broken Porcelain you play as 15 year old Jennifer, a young maid at the Ashmann Inn who’s begun to discover the true horrors that go on behind closed doors. The connection to its predecessor feels extremely loose, although I’m sure more tangible links will be revealed as the story progresses. And while it’s technically a sequel, game director Chris Darril is very insistent that it’s welcoming to new players as well as returning fans. And thanks to it’s significant improvements on the formula – at least from a gameplay standpoint – what I’ve seen so far makes me agree.
Everything that encapsulated the horror experience of Tormented Fathers returns. A creepy, classic horror-inspired location (this time swapping out a mansion for a hotel), terrifying stalkers roaming the hallways, and – perhaps most importantly – strict limitations on the ability to defend yourself. Yes, much like classic survival horror games of the past (and more recently Alien: Isolation), Remothered: Broken Porcelain is a game about avoiding the threat rather than taking it head on. Stealth, hide and seek, and distraction are all returning core mechanics, and the true terror is often the anticipation of threat rather than the danger itself.
The first Remothered had all the right intentions, but didn’t quite stick the landing. The sequel attempts to build upon its predecessor’s excellent scene setting with mechanics that do the atmosphere justice. In Tormented Fathers it could often feel like avoiding the stalkers was a case of luck; often you’d just have to walk around corners and hope they weren’t there to immediately spot you. It seems like Broken Porcelain has taken this failing onboard and adapted not only the general manoeuvrability of the character (such as now being able to vault objects) but also provided a legitimate cover system, something that was shockingly omitted from the first game’s hide-and-seek options.
Protagonist Jennifer also has far more tools in her arsenal than her predecessor Rosemary did, literally so. Remothered allows the player to not only collect general household items to be used for defense or distraction, but has now incorporated crafting. I can’t say right now how deep this system goes, but I can imagine that – in keeping with the genre’s DNA – crafting will be limited to practical items that a 15 year-old scared out of her mind could realistically make. During a gameplay presentation I was shown a bottle being combined with some flour, turning a throwing object that would cause an inconvenience for the stalker into a blinding explosion of flour. It’s a weapon you could legitimately make in this situation, which is a conscious effort from the developers for the game to feel grounded and the threat real.
With these tools also comes the new ability to attack your stalker although this feels like less of an attempt to bring down your enemies and more a new, preemptive distraction technique like the aforementioned flour bottle. That’s assuming, like in the first game, your stalker’s death is something that is exclusively reserved for cutscenes.
Jennifer also comes equipped with a new ability that’s a little more supernatural. Moth Eye – which allows you to pre-emptively scope out areas, gather intel on their pursuers, and even briefly mark their position. New abilities such as this not only serve the function of improving the experience, but are also an attempt to encourage the resourcefulness of a player trying to deal with not just one, but multiple stalkers.
Remothered: Broken Porcelain
Yes, unlike Tormented Fathers, in Broken Porcelain it’s now possible for several stalkers to be hunting you at once. Not just that, they can even work together in trying to sniff you out. They also have spies in the environment, such as dogs and birds that can announce your whereabouts should you stumble in your attempt to slip by them. The stalkers (such as the hotel’s owner, Mr Ashmann) seem switched on and more in tune with their environment than the previous game’s antagonists, where it felt like they stumbled across you in their predetermined patterns. The enemies this time appear smarter, and will do everything in their power to find and kill you.
Perhaps what will prove to be Remothered’s greatest asset, though, are the environments that promise to make you feel trapped with no escape. In turn, the satisfaction of strategically moving your way through them and discovering an exit will become its own reward. During the presentation I saw the kitchen and restaurant areas that the game’s producer, Antonio Cutrona openly declared were inspired by similar locations in The Shining’s Overlook Hotel. It’s clear not only through this game, but also Tormented Fathers, that Remothered’s horror influences are worn on its sleeve. Game director Chris Darril has made no secret about the similarity of Rosemary Reed to Jodie Foster’s FBI agent Clarice Starling from The Silence of the Lambs, and when I questioned new antagonist Andrea’s similarity to Kathy Bates in Misery, he gleefully responded with “You noticed another reference!”
I’m not quite sure how I feel about Remothered’s heavy-handed approach to horror references. For a genre fan like myself, it’s definitely cool to spot these moments, and playing in environments where you’ve previously experienced scares can add to the experience. But I’d also like to see Stormind Games focus more on building its own staples of horror instead of trying to stand on the shoulders of giants.
I’m excited to see more of Remothered: Broken Porcelain, as what little I’ve seen shows promise. Transparent influences aside, I think the world and environment building is strong. And I’m hopeful that, with all the new core mechanics, the gameplay can be elevated to match its great and terrifying tone.
Dale Driver is a Senior Video Producer for IGN. Be thoroughly bored by following him Twitter at @_daledriver.