[Developer: Steelkrill Studio | Publisher: Steelkrill Studio]
The Backrooms: 1998 caught my eye when I saw “survival horror”, and I immediately bought it. It starts off with a teenager recording him and his friends skateboarding, but he soon finds himself in the endless maze known as the Backrooms! You then take control of the character as you try to find a way to return home. You start by exploring and learning about where you are currently. From the beginning, the game tries to startle you with noises and moving objects. Every corner and room can be a scare waiting to frighten you! Let’s start talking about this in detail now.
The Backrooms of Thrills
One of the good things about this game is how it structures its horror. You will see shadows pass by doors and halls, and you will even see things get thrown or destroyed. Jump scares galore, but with a purpose. What purpose, you ask? Well, for the monster below.
That monster will chase and hunt you like Mr. X from Resident Evil 2 Remake. No matter how vast the Backrooms are, he will always be able to hear you. I mean that literally. See that microphone icon on the bottom left of the screen? If at any time, the sound from your microphone is loud enough, the monster will be sprinting to your location! Now, this isn’t always responsive. There appear to be specific times that you will get a reaction from the microphone. However, if you step on trash, or knock over boxes loudly, the monster will always rush to your location! What, then, is the goal of this game? Well, that is to find things hidden in the Backrooms.
Objectives for Survival
Shortly after meeting the monster, you will find a photo with items in it. You have to locate all of them while evading the monster and trying to not get lost. To help with this, you will get a can of spray paint that can be used to mark where you’ve been. This can be difficult but fun as it gives you flexibility in how you mark your path. Not to mention, everything in the game will work against you just to make you scream so the monster can hear and find you easier. And again, the microphone may not always work, but it still has moments. The game will get more clever as time goes on and it tries to get a shout from you, so good luck on being silent.
Glitches and small Blemishes
One thing I will say is that aside from the microphone being inconsistent, the physics can be weird too. For example, I can randomly spray paint the air as shown below.
I managed to do that excessively and I won’t lie, it was funny and amusing. I also noticed some places I couldn’t paint the walls when I tried, and other times my keys wouldn’t respond in-game. The game also has controller support, but for whatever reason, my controller wouldn’t respond on some buttons either. Maybe The Backrooms needs further patches and more time in the oven, as those issues need to be fixed sooner or later, especially when sometimes even reloading a save would cause a game crash. Would I say this ruins the game? No. It wasn’t so often that I began to rage at my screen, but it was enough to make a note of it.
Would I play The Backrooms: 1998 again? Yes. It was fun in more ways than one, but I won’t lie when I say it is very short. If you can get a great path going, and avoid the monster, you can beat this game in maybe a few minutes to an hour. However, that is why the game has the mechanics it has in my opinion. If anything can force you to run from where you have to go or to take detours, that is good game design that can add minutes or hours of fun! Not to mention, the camera effects the game uses to make you stop in your tracks during a scare or to see your surroundings change are very nicely done. For example, the movement of the chairs and the mannequin in the slides below. However, images do not do the effects justice. You truly have to experience the game for yourself.
Subtle touches like these are littered all over the game, and it will have you watching your step to avoid making noise or knocking over things that will. Meanwhile, you hear the monster stomping around, going from walking to running. For $9.99, it isn’t a bad buy, especially if you want to stream the game, or want to see how fast you can beat it. I think Steelkrill Studio has a lot of potential considering only one guy made this, and the guy is very capable of doing this work! I hope to see this game and more like it improve under this guy’s creativity. If you like my work, feel free to check out more here.