New Game Review

Review – Gray Dawn (PC)

God has a sick sense of humor.

The belief in angels and demons, Heaven and Hell, and God and Satan is an interesting thing. On one hand, it can be a beautiful thing with promises of everlasting life in paradise as well as forgiveness of transgressions to help people through tough times. On the other, there is the terrifying idea of Hell with demons and constantly being tortured in numerous ways like burning in a lake of fire. I believe this concept works so well with horror because it’s something we will never truly know the answer to and is something that is rooted deeply in the majority of our subconscious, even if you stop believing. Without fully knowing the truth of either of these, it is easy to play with our hopes and fears of those very concepts. Showing us just how terrible demons and Hell can really be or how wonderful Heaven is, is something Gray Dawn plays with often. While it doesn’t always land, it does offer an interesting tale of Christianity from these viewpoints.

Gray Dawn is very story focused and that’s truly its strongest selling point. You play as Father Abraham, a priest who is being blamed for the disappearance of multiple altar boys. Convinced that the missing altar boys were corrupted and taken by the Devil, Father Abraham must uncover the truth as demons and Satan himself try and stifle him by bringing up his rocky past.

Gray Dawn
Satan sending fire from the sky.

For the most part the story is solid. I was very intrigued and genuinely creeped out in a good handful of sequences. But it seemed like every time it was about to go overboard and take it to the next level, you’re hit with a loading screen that really hurts the overall flow. Often times it will transition you from a horrifying scene to a calm beautiful sequence which completely kills the tension that it spent time building. Even with those missteps, it still remained an engrossing experience from beginning to end and I did really enjoy the focus on the good and bad of Christianity.

The gameplay itself is extremely basic consisting of exploring environments, collecting objects, and then using them to solve a puzzle. The way each section is laid out makes it almost impossible to get stuck since sections will be locked away or objects only appearing for that specific part. 90% of the puzzles just consist of collecting all objects and applying them to the puzzle to advance. The other 10% that don’t require a specific item to proceed are still unfortunately fairly simple. I do want to talk about one object and since it was already revealed in the trailers it’s not much of a spoiler, so I’ll go into some brief details. You end up acquiring a heart pendant that lets you transition between different times or realms. This isn’t exactly fully explained, but I thought that one of the transitions was sort of like a heaven realm shown in untainted white snow and other convincing objects that I won’t spoil. It is an interesting mechanic that helped break up the typical item collection puzzle.

 

 

The visuals for the environments vary in many instances and since there isn’t any interactions besides specific items there is a very static feel to everything. The items that you can interact with are highly detailed, but a lot of the regular objects need some love. Also, the character models themselves and the few animations are very poorly done. Some of the more heavenly looking vistas can be truly stunning at times, however.

The genuinely creepy moments I felt were impacted largely because of the horrifying ambient demon sounds. Creepy dolls are terrifying enough when their head follows you around the room, but that coupled with children laughing and satanic growls make those situations very tense. While this is all done brilliantly, the sound design is sorely let down by its voice acting and delivery. The voices and growls of demons are convincing, but Father Abraham’s actor could have used some work.

 

Gray Dawn is a genuinely eerie game that thankfully doesn’t rely on a myriad of jump scares. At the same time, Gray Dawn has a lot of beautiful imagery that often gives you hope and respite in between the ominous sections. However, the abrupt transitions from disturbing to comforting often kills the flow and built up tension. This objection may be because I was expecting more of a full horror game, but experienced something that showed equal time to both sides of the Christianity mythos.

Graphics: 7.0

Environments really stand out and are fairly well detailed, but character models and up close textures need work.

Gameplay: 8.0

The gameplay is very simple: collect all objects in an area and use them to solve an easy puzzle, rinse and repeat. But it all works well.

Sound: 7.0

The creepy ambient noise effects and music are top notch, but the voice acting leaves a lot to be desired.

Fun Factor: 7.5

I really enjoyed the Christian themes and messages, but every time it starts to ramp up it throws a loading screen or story transition at you that halts it in its tracks.

Final Verdict: 7.5

Gray Dawn is available now on PC.

A copy of Gray Dawn was provided by the publisher.

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Our resident Californian ginger, also one of the only ones on the team who has a family (aka life). When he’s not taking care of sick kids he’s playing games with a wife who’s just as much a gamer as him or actually reviewing them for us, making him a valuable member of the team. Even if he’s pretty much stolen all our souls. His favorites include Dark Souls, Fallout 2, Majora’s Mask, and Shadow of the Colossus.

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