There’s been a resurgent of PS1-style horrors lately: Murder House, Lost in Vivo, and Gates of Ivory, just to name a few. Something about chunky, low poly visuals is more terrifying than modern graphics will ever be. My little 90s heart grows more nostalgic and excited each time I find a new title. Chasing Static is a welcome addition to the list.
Chris Selwood’s estranged father has just passed away, leaving behind only a cryptic and confusing journal. On Chris’ journey back from the funeral home, a storm takes to the Northern Wales roads and has him seeking shelter in a roadside cafe. The waitress is nice and the coffee is warm. Chris starts to feel like his miserable day is finally turning around — until the lights go out. Suddenly, the cafe is in shambles and the waitress is being held against the ceiling by something that can’t possibly be real. What’s going on in Chris’ childhood home in rural Wales? And why does his dad’s journal seem to be connected?
“There’s no combat and no puzzles. The focus is an interactive story that plays out like a sci-fi movie.”
Chasing Static is a short narrative-driven walking sim. There’s no combat and no puzzles. The focus is an interactive story that plays out like a sci-fi movie. Gameplay is non-linear; the order in which objectives are completed is up to the player. Tasks consist of a ton of back and forth walking, but the developers have made moving around easy with small maps, speedy running, and a teleportation mechanic. Besides advancing the plot, players can hunt for story-enriching notes, echoes of the past, and other secrets.
The atmosphere shines in Chasing Static. PS1-reminiscent graphics mix perfectly with a bold and creepy soundtrack that Silent Hill fans would find familiar. The game feels much like an X-Files episode; dark and mysterious meets the supernatural. However, I did not find Chasing Static to be scary in the least. Horror fanatics shouldn’t expect to be scared while playing, while those new to the genre will find this to be a good starting place.
“Taking place in a science fiction world, the plot had many opportunities to be unique, yet still ended up cliched.”
Despite a short playtime, the story is completely self-contained, not too grandiose, and not too small, either. Voice acting is generally good, but there are a few lines whose emotions feel out of place. While I did appreciate the ending, I found it to be a tad disappointing. Taking place in a science fiction world, the plot had many opportunities to be unique, yet still ended up cliched. Nothing is mind-blowing about Chasing Static. However, the storytelling is fantastic.
There are a few other aspects worth mentioning. For starters, Chasing Static has full controller support, which is rare amongst indie horrors. And second, Chasing Static has replayability. Completing the game once unlocks the “Restless Dreams” mode, which adds a spooky, vintage filter. Achievement hunting is reasonable even for casual players, and there’s a secret ending for those who find all notes and echoes.
“Sci-fi fans should definitely give Chasing Static a play. However, horror fans might be a touch disappointed.”
All in all, Chasing Static is a solid and engaging walking simulator. The PS1 style graphics alongside a modern, Silent Hill-esque soundtrack make for an engrossing atmosphere. The story is engaging, although nothing new. There’s even replayability and achievement hunting for the players who want it. Sci-fi fans should absolutely give Chasing Static a play. However, horror fans might be a touch disappointed.
Chasing Static is available on PC via Steam.
*Disclaimer: Reviewed on PC, code was provided by the Publisher.