I decided to trawl through Steam’s free-to-play sewers to unearth a hidden horror gem and to hopefully find an a light in the dark to Konami’s madness by their cancelling of Silent Hills by the legendary partnership of Hideo Kojima and visionary Guillermo del Toro. Clown House is what I found, and it will haunt me to the end of my days…because I wasted 9 minutes playing and reviewing it.
After half a second after seeing the Aslan Game Studio logo I alt-tabbed out of the game and went straight to Google and discovered something I thought I had seen in another game. I was wrong, but further investigation lead to this:
Not the best start, but carried on and burrowed into the horrors of Aslan Game Studio’s mind by entering to a slideshow setting the scene:
“You are trapped in a darkened house with lunatic clowns, due to a meaningless reason. You need to find the key to escape the house. Hidden in a random spot. Some of the clowns are evil and they want to kill you. You don’t know which. You have a pistol in your hand, use it to defend yourself. If you kill an innocent clown, you lose the game.”
That is exactly what was written. A whole manner of questions flooded me but the cleverly added line, ‘due to a meaningless reason,’ put a stop to my burning queries. Wonderful.
I began my journey by immediately turning down my mouse sensitivity to a fraction above zero as the slightest movement sent my unfortunate character into a disco seizure. If a real man were to move around that fast, he’d spin himself into oblivion – a place I wish I actually was at that time.
Not surprisingly, the game looked like it was made on a potato. The cheap black-and-white-with-old-film-grain overlay was most probably implemented to mask the fact that the obvious Unity Store bought assets were originally brightly coloured and the maker(s) of this game hadn’t a clue about lighting. The default contrast was headache inducing whenever my supposed flashlight hit anything white or reflective.
Already I had enough of this shit so I ran about the house to get my bearings and locate the exit before trying to find the key, all the while ignoring the ‘lunatic’ clowns – all three of them. After 15 seconds I had mapped out the entirety of the level. None of the lunatic clowns bothered me as I ran about, two of them sat copy-and-pasted on different sofas while another stood there staring at me. These guys were just chilling out and not doing anything until I took their key, only then were they active. I didn’t start the game freeing myself from capture, or groggily waking up in a horrific scenario; I started this game stood in their hallway with a gun. I was a home invader it seemed.
I found the key in the bathroom and couldn’t figure out how to pick it up. The usual FPS buttons and keys did nothing so I used my brain and thought logically – I right-clicked to cock the gun and fired at the key. Hey presto, I had picked it up… Dramatic music began to swell up but as I had my eardrums perforated by the way too loud and stupid gun sound effects (of a rifle, not a pistol), I had to turn around and rely on my eyes as to what the hell was going on now. No gun model is used in the game, so I suspect they tripled the gun sounds just to make sure you know you have one.
The clown was on to me, probably coming to ask why I pick things up by shooting at them, but on to me nonetheless. I probably would’ve been mildly worried if the clown didn’t drag his feet towards me at 5mm per year so I let him get inside my personal space after what seemed an age just to see what he would do. The walking animation stopped and the stabbing one started, so I readied my invisible gun (just a faint crosshair appears) and shot him in the face. What a bore. I got stuck in his body when I tried to move towards the exit so in my blinding frustration I shot an innocent sofa clown who was looking at his own balls.
I walked about, found the key sat atop the fireplace, and walked out of the door. I was greeted with another old-timey slide saying “You are free. They are not.” What an amazing waste of time. A 9 second game with some cheap, loud noise scares, and nothing else but an empty feeling of regret.
I wouldn’t even show this game at a ‘How Not To Make Video Games’ lecture.
The slightest movement sent my unfortunate character into a disco seizure. If a real man were to move around that fast, he'd spin himself into oblivion - a place I wish I actually was at that time