Song of Horror (PlayStation 4) Review

By Sandy Kirchner-Wilson 08.06.2023

Review for Song of Horror on PlayStation 4

Raiser Games and Protocol Games bring Song of Horror, their hugely successful traditional horror title with a twist, to PlayStation 4. Originally an episodic adventure released for Windows PCs, it promises players a unique experience, complete with permadeath and the fixed camera angles of old. Once a complete edition was released, it wasn't long before the porting to other platforms began, birthing the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions.

The song still echoes through the hallways, bringing more victims into the darkness and madness. Daniel is missing - he went looking for novel manuscripts in a client's house. It is up to the others to discover what happened and unravel the mystery of the music box.

Song of Horror's story is crazy, fuelled by Lovecraftian themes, and features a plethora of differently themed levels. Presented in stylised sequences, the story twists and turns in a satisfying and interesting way. To keep the game fresh, the details will not be diverged. Just know it is a great mysterious horror story with decent writing and pacing.

The gameplay is classic survival horror, featuring environments that are explored from forced perspectives with semi-clunky controls. These controls really emphasise the "everyday" aspect of the characters.

Screenshot for Song of Horror on PlayStation 4

The characters themselves are swapped out each chapter and have different roles and backgrounds, putting them at differing levels of preparedness with varying advantages and disadvantages. For example, the electrician in the first level is working in the area and comes to check the power at the house. She is then pulled into the puzzling horror within.

Each character has tools they bring to the level. These can be something useful, like calming scented candles, or something deceptively unhelpful, like a gun. A huge pressure on the player is the permadeath system; all the characters can die in a variety of surprising ways, though the developers have added an easier mode where permadeath is removed.

Obviously, there are multiple things to face in each level. The first level has a presence, which is an undefined entity that chases the player around. However, it's not the only "enemy" in the house. There are parts in every level where, if the player rushes or makes a mistake, the character being controlled can be killed in an instant.

Nail-biting terror and dread settle in during exploration, driving little thoughts like, "What was that sound?" and "Was that a person?". These plague the player's mind as they push onwards into the darkness.

Screenshot for Song of Horror on PlayStation 4

Quickly, however, players will pick up on the fact that the survival events are easily predicted and survived using some obscure but easily learned quick time events, such as timed button presses with the character's heartbeat. So long as the "listen" prompt is shown at a door, if the player listens, they will likely survive any danger that's thrown their way.

Presentation is stellar, with excellently detailed and masterfully lit environments. They absolutely burst at the seams with little items and trinkets, lending an air of realism and believability to the locations. The characters themselves are a bit stiff and the rendering occasionally makes them pop out of the darkness oddly, but in general they look great.

Camera cuts can stutter, which unfortunately adds an element of instability to the proceedings. These dingy and sometimes oorlich environments hide many secrets, some of which are easy to spot and identify, while others aren't. This feeds into the way each environment is set up to frighten the player. Camera cuts hide figures while masterful angles make shadows twisted and ominous. It is truly masterful in many aspects and really rings of the horror mastery seen in early Resident Evil games or the first Silent Hill.

Screenshot for Song of Horror on PlayStation 4

The monster designs are also terrifying, and each is a twisted and horrible homage to various horror themes. All of this enhances the horror beyond what might be found in other games, like Tormented Souls.

This is all supported by some killer sound design. Often, the levels begin quiet and eerie, and then suddenly ramp up into high pressure bangs and wailing, causing panic. Background sound design has been implemented stunningly, with plenty of location-based environmental noises like generators and rustling trees.

Musically, this title is excellent. All of the soundtrack is focused on creating a great atmosphere of dread or supporting other scenes with appropriate backing. The titular music box that contains the song of horror has a nice wee ditty that is quite understated, but surprisingly memorable given how the game focusses on the box during the story.

Screenshot for Song of Horror on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

There are few indie horror titles as awesome at catching that fixed camera horror game aesthetic as Song of Horror and even less that reach the nail-biting tension on display here. The constant fear of losing a character permanently is a kicker but it really enhances the experience, making each choice drastically more important. The visual design and story should keep players entranced as they confront the horrors of the music box mystery! All horror fans deserve this title in their library.

Developer

Protocol Games

Publisher

Raiser Games

Genre

Horror

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

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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