The haunted building scenario is a major trope in horror, more prominently seen in film and television. Hauntings in the horror genre date back as far as the late 1890s, so over the course of the last 130ish years that we have seen it all. There’s only so much that can be done with it. Originality in horror games is something I referenced in my last review also. Whenever a new horror is coming up, you can bet I am going to be excited. When I first saw the trailer for The Suicide of Rachel Foster, I got major The Shining vibes. Haunted hotel, hidden secrets, even similar design in some aspects. The building design also gives me some cool Until Dawn vibes. My interest was piqued by the subtle homages to other games and movies in the massive genre.
But what is The Suicide of Rachel Foster?
The Suicide of Rachel Foster is the latest game by developers One-O-One Games, published by Daedalic Entertainment. We play as Nicole, a young woman in her twenties who has returned to her family’s hotel. 10 years previous to the start of the game, Nicole had left the hotel with her mother after discovering her father’s affair. This is where Rachel Foster comes in. Rachel, a girl Nicole’s age, was her father’s pregnant mistress, and committed suicide. Nicole is back to examine the hotel and sell it on behalf of her now dead mother, and to refund the relatives of Rachel. By this time, her father had also passed. However, a storm hits the hotel, trapping Nicole there.
This is where our story really begins, as now Nicole has no choice but to explore the decrepit remains. Accompanied only by the voice of FEMA agent Irving through one of the first cellular phones ever made, Nicole must work to uncover the truth about her family’s hotel.
When I first started The Suicide of Rachel Foster, I was beyond pumped. Horror is my greatest love across all mediums, so I’m always down to try something new. Then, I started playing. At first, the game underwhelmed me, but it also made me feel a tad uncomfortable due to the issues it deals with.
There’s a splash screen that appears once you’ve completed your objectives, signalling the start of a new day. In early days, this screen is very jarring and it just doesn’t work well in my opinion. However, when you are coming to the last couple of days, with tensions rising, it adds an extra layer to the experience.
A slow burn into an epic climax?
The Suicide of Rachel Foster starts off as a bit of a slow burner. Initially, this dashed my hopes. I’ve known many a horror to start strong and finish weak, but not many to start weak and finish strong. This game COMPLETELY defied my expectations. In all my years of playing horror, I’ve never seen a twist executed this well. There are no enemies to fight, nothing to defend yourself against, so gameplay is on the simple side. At first, this can feel a tad boring, but once it hits, it really hits. Very akin to the 2016 Blair Witch movie. A slow start, hits a peak, and presents an intense and worthwhile climax.
Something that really stuck out to me after finishing this game was what I am reminded of. After digesting the whole experience, all I can think of is 2016’s The Boy.
The Boy was critically panned, but in actuality is a diamond in the rough. With it, we get a tale of a nanny who instead of minding an actual child is minding a doll. That isn’t why I draw similarities with The Suicide of Rachel Foster, however. In both The Boy and The Suicide of Rachel Foster, we are presented with scenarios that lean towards the paranormal. However, in both, that is not the case. There is an outside physical force working against the protagonist, presenting challenges, unease and dread. Again, we’re talking slow burner with an epic climax. In both cases, I could not have predicted the final outcome at the start, no matter how many hours I’ve dedicated to horror.
The Suicide of Rachel Foster takes this to a whole new level however, as we learn the truth of what happened in the hotel. One of the best parts of this game’s ending is how it actually handles everything. I’m keeping this more spoiler-free than usual because the ending is what makes TSORF the diamond in the rough it is.
The Suicide of Rachel Foster is everything I didn’t know I needed in game format. It took possibly the most overused trope in horror but made it its own. There is so much to be said about the climax in particular, but it is better experienced than read about. When it comes to horror as a whole, it is very hard for me to find a redeeming point when I start off bored. The Suicide of Rachel Foster did more than just redeem itself, however. It blew my mind so hard that I can’t stop talking about it. That is when you know something has made an impact.
I cannot get this game off my mind, and I couldn’t wait to sit down and write this review. Things like graphics and gameplay don’t mean as much to me outside of shooters. For me, it’s all about the story. The Suicide of Rachel Foster presents such a phenomenal story, paced so perfectly that I will not forget about this game for a long time.
After finishing this, I cannot wait for One-O-One Games’ next horror outing, Gray.
The Suicide of Rachel Foster retails at €16.99 and is available across PC, Xbox One and Playstation 4.
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