With a title like Curse of Anabelle, it’s tough to not immediately think of a certain horror film series. Thankfully, the game doesn’t borrow anything from that series and instead sets up its own atmosphere and narrative. In a genre filled with jump scares and gory scenery to give players their horror fix, Curse of Anabelle uses real-world legends and puzzle-solving to get out of this nightmare alive.
Curse of Anabelle revolves around Nathan, whose girlfriend’s sister, Anabelle, mysteriously died on the Ramsey Mansion grounds in Boulder, Colorado. Emily, his girlfriend, begins to have vivid dreams of her little sister, which she puts off as a way for her to get over her death. However, as the dreams become more intense, Emily is convinced that Anabelle needs her help. After researching the Ramsey Mansion on her own, she decides to tell Nathan about her dreams. One day, Emily suddenly disappears, and so, he decides to look for her.
The spooky events in Curse of Anabelle aren’t your typical jump scares. Instead, the game raises the anxiety by having the player walk alone through the halls of a very creepy house to keep your heart rate up. It’s through the sound design and scenery the make the scary moments in the game so much more impactful. I found myself always on guard when lurking around the corners. Throughout the story, there are hints that are meant to help the player advance, but it’s still up to you to solve the puzzles. Documents and letters are spread throughout the mansion, some of which are necessary to read, while others only include other creepy stories. There are a lot of items that can be interacted with, and it’s possible to open things such as cupboards in search of clues.
The graphics are fantastic in Curse of Anabelle and rather dreary, as expected of a horror game. I found the environments very detailed, especially with all the decor and paintings on the walls, which had me stop to admire them from time to time. Additionally, the animation from the cutscenes and scary moments are executed well. I enjoyed how the game balanced its exploration and story elements, which both never felt either too short or long. There was a strange dirt filter in the game that overlays the screen while exploring, which does overstay its welcome though.
With so many horror games getting released, it’s hard to stand out from this genre, yet I found a lot of joy going through Curse of Anabelle. Even the mystery keeps me curious as most things don’t really make sense at first sight or may even seem very confusing. I enjoyed the mix between the story cutscenes and puzzles you have to solve while investigating. Careful reading and observing are essential here, as it’s possible to get lost if you don’t pay attention. That said, Curse of Anabelle might very likely be a game that manages to stand out from the crowd, and all atmospheric horror fans, including me, should keep an eye on.
Curse of Anabelle is currently on Kickstarter.
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