SHUT IN (PC) Review

By Chris Leebody 06.01.2021

Review for SHUT IN on PC

It goes without saying that a game called Shut In doesn't stretch the imagination in terms of mirroring the experience many around the world have lived these last eight months. What might not be so recognisable is the visual and atmospheric horror that developer Cael O'Sullivan has woven into this one-part comedic, one-part psychological point-and-click adventure. Available now on Steam for £3.99, the price reflects a short experience that can be wrapped up in as little as 30 minutes or so. While that might scare some off, this is an adventure that lingers long in the memory after playing despite its brief runtime.

Starting off in the bedroom of an unnamed boy, Shut In initially appears rather serene. The messy room and computer game setup could be the image of many a teenage boy. You must then get dressed and leave the house - it all seems rather simple. Make no mistake, though - things change rather quickly. It's the subtlety at first: the pale lighting and stillness make everything rather eerie. After getting dressed and leaving the bedroom, the unnamed boy walks out into the hallway.

Again, things seem normal. However, look closer and there seem to be creeping shadows around that aforementioned pale light. Look even closer and suddenly there are creepy photos on the shelf that definitely don't belong in a family home. In fact, where is the rest of the family? To the left is a buzzing light bulb. Get too close and… death. Shut In is not afraid to kill off the hero in all sorts of fiendish and inventive ways, from not acting fast enough to doing stupid things (it's probably a good idea not to use a lighter in a gas filled room). Fortunately, there is an abundance of save points.

Screenshot for SHUT IN on PC

Equally, the puzzles avoid any frustration. They are clever and immensely logical. It's a good thing, too, because this is a narrative story that is meant to flow at a quick pace, so momentum is key. As the protagonist gradually goes further downstairs in this creepy house, the visuals get ever more nefarious and the introduction of red into the lighting heightens the lingering danger and mystery.

The narrator that accompanies the adventure doesn't have much helpful input. They do, however, provide some fantastic and really witty fourth-wall-breaking commentary. Big props to the development team because a narrator of this nature is key in an adventure like this one. The balance between the sense of fun as they joke about the player's failures and the building suspense developed by the evocative pixel-art graphics is very impressive.

While this is an adventure that is undoubtedly short compared to the typical gaming narrative, it still provides some lasting impressions. It's possible to complete in as little as half an hour but collecting and seeing everything there is to see will take around one or two hours. What's most interesting beyond the collecting and puzzle-solving is the emotional depth Shut In is trying to tap into through a sense of isolation. With the creeping depression portrayed through the dark lighting and atmosphere of hopelessness, it's not at all surprising that sufferers of mental illness have praised Shut In and the developers for accurately capturing this sense through the medium.

Screenshot for SHUT IN on PC

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

Shut In captures these unprecedented times in a small but unique package. With depth far beyond the initial on-the-surface horror story, this experience taps into the evocativeness of a mental health crisis, and the commentary it makes on the dread suffered by those with mental illnesses is powerful. It isn't all deep, though. The narrator successfully plays on the Undertale vibe and the comedic elements within such a tonally dark tale come across very well.

Developer

Cael O'Sullivan

Publisher

Hidden Track

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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