I think everyone has a certain level of trepidation for the unknown. Some people fear things like ghosts and the unnatural; things we don’t know or understand. Then there’s the fear of a situation much more real. Being captured, trapped, forced to do things that are horrible or to solve puzzles with your life on the line. I find movies like Saw, where the focus is on mental torture and being messed with by a puppeteer who already has planned your fate, to be more intense than a movie like Paranormal Activity where things just . . . happen. The Initiate captures the fear of the unknown similar to Saw, just without the blood and torture.
The Initiate is set in Astoria, Oregon and tells the story of Nathan Rockford. Nathan has lost his memory and has awakened in a house full of traps and puzzles. Opening your eyes, you see a modern looking bedroom. All is quiet. Vague memories flash in your mind as you observe and search the room for a clue. A voice bellows from an intercom placed on a wall, which is surrounded by strange shaped markings. This voice tells you your mission: to use your intelligence to escape. This is your trial. Can you unravel the mystery behind your captivity, and most importantly, can you escape this treacherous and sinister ordeal?
Since The Initiate is an escape room puzzle game with an interesting story woven through I won’t get into any specifics so as to stay away from spoilers. There are a wide range of puzzles that vary in difficulties. I have to say this is the first puzzle game I’ve played that really had me stop and jot down notes as I was playing, which I highly recommend you do. You’ll have to observe everything and stay sharp to catch clues and collect items. The puzzles are scattered all throughout the house and they’ll have you back tracking and running around solving new puzzles as you acquire more items. I didn’t feel any of the puzzles were impossible, but there are a couple issues with a few clues that I will get to next.
The graphics are great, as long as you’re playing on the highest setting. And this is the problem I was talking about with some clues. When you play on anything other than the highest it lowers the textures to where you can’t even read the clues on some items. I tried this with a range of settings and anything under “High” is so blurry that you can’t make out the writing on the clue. Instead of lowering the textures in-game and then loading textures when you interact with the items, the game lowers everything. I’ll chalk this up to poor optimization, considering the “minimum settings” requires an i7 4790k CPU. That is a top tier processor for a “Minimum” setting. When it comes to sound, the design is very minimalist. There’s no real music besides eerie sounds that create some tension. But the various item sound effects are well done and so is the puppeteer voice actor that taunts you as you try and figure out the puzzles.
At its core, The Initiate is a fun puzzle game that has an interesting premise. I wish the ending had a little more impact, but the puzzles are all incredibly well done and really require you to think. I highly recommend making sure you have a good enough CPU to run this on either “High” or “Highest,” otherwise you may have a hard time figuring out some clues. But if you have that CPU and love good puzzle games then this one’s for you. Even after you beat the game, your position as an initiate isn’t over. A series of puzzles continue outside of the game, but I’ll just leave it at that.
Copy of The Initiate was provided by developer
The Initiate is available on Steam