The first chapter of Alan Sharp has arrived, and it builds upon the demo released last year. But how much building does it do? It’s time to talk about Chapter 0.
What is Alan Sharp?
At its core, Alan Sharp is a horror mystery. The titular Alan Sharp is a detective, now retired after the death of a loved one. A call from an old friend will bring him back into the world of detection, as the duo tries to solve a heinous crime. However, the prologue doesn’t deal with Sharp himself. The prologue deals with his former assistant, Sam Whithers. As Sam, players must unfold the events that took place before Alan’s arrival. During his own investigation however, Sam must also deal with the demons of his past. However, will this impact his ability to find the truth?
The prologue starts off with an intro in a police station in Boston. Sam is there to get info on what he’s investigating. I really did not like this little section. Maybe it’s because I’m on a crime fiction novel kick at the moment, but it felt like too much information was given. Almost like being spoon-fed. Honestly, it reminded me of shows like Murder, She Wrote just after they find a body. Actions were also prompted a bit too much. Even very basic ones like “pick up the key, it’s on the desk”. But even though it had that interaction glow, you had to wait to be told to pick it up before you could. There are a few things like that scattered throughout the chapter.
A lot of the chapter is like the demo, but with more areas you can access. I cannot stress this enough though, don’t play the demo before playing the game now. I played and reviewed back in February, and I loved the demo. However because so much is similar, I was bored. The same puzzle solutions and jumpscares carry over. There was also talk of people being able to get around the four hour mark out of the chapter. This is less likely if you’ve played the demo at all, and especially if you played it recently. On this occasion, playing the demo here really feels like shooting yourself in the foot.
This does improve once you’ve progressed beyond the point the demo ended at, as it is new content completely. There is also more room for time to be put in here exploring and figuring things out.
When it comes to the graphics, you can really tell that this game is low budget. Don’t get me wrong, they aren’t bad graphics. The best way to describe them would be dated. This is really not helped by a huge lack in settings. The overall lighting of the game is very dark, and only having the option to adjust brightness just isn’t enough here. Even when you get the lights on in the house, it’s still very dark.
On the graphical standpoint, there are some interesting things to note. Honestly, some of the character models aren’t great. Again, this ties back in to the dated look. There are some that are intriguing though. The white lady, who I think may be some form of porcelain doll, has a more detailed look about her. The dolls that appear in general in the chapter are well done. They have the right level of creepiness about them.
There is one other creature design that really caught my eye. This is the best description I can think of, because it’s all I could see looking at this creature. The Mummy (1999), in the scene where Imhotep is frightened out of the hotel room by the cat. Well, the creature looks like that weird, skinless Imhotep. Which I do feel bad saying as dialogue makes it clear that it was a man who was hurt in a fire. But that’s what the model looks like.
By no means is Alan Sharp a bad game. I do think I would have enjoyed this a lot more if I hadn’t played the demo beforehand. As it’s being released in chapters, I do have higher hopes for the future of the game. There is definitely an interesting premise here, but unfortunately it was not helped by a demo that just showed too much in comparison to the full chapter. Once the full game releases, it could be a special one. On a side note, this game is super affordable. It’s a great way for people to dip their toes into horror.
However, I do think there is room to improve. Maybe down the line, overall graphics could be enhanced. Perhaps even the soundtrack and effects could improve. For such a low budget game, a point that the developers have stressed multiple times through social media, it isn’t bad. It just leaves lots of space for growth and improvement. It is also Mystive Studio‘s first outing, so regardless of how the game turns out, it should stand as a great learning experience for them.