REVIEW – That’s enough of the annoying capitalization, and I’ll even spell the name of the studio BLOODIOUS GAMES once. Other than that, it’s a camera horror game that could be called Outlast, but I don’t think Madison is close to that level because, despite its differences, I’d call it average at best.
I’m wondering how quickly I’ll have to write this because of the suddenly announced extreme price hike in electricity and gas in this cuntry (intentionally without the O!), because there will be no compensation from anyone or anything, that’s for sure.
Luca, our character, is in an abandoned house. His grandparents used to live here, and he quickly realizes things are not in the best shape. The psychological horror factor kicks in very quickly: things like sudden noises, furniture being moved elsewhere, and the still typical scares of the style, commonly known as jumpscares. The environment is changing, or somewhat distorting, behind our backs, and for all of it, we can name a demon as being responsible because it is linked to Luca’s family. It also tries to possess our character, and it is also linked to the ritualistic serial killer Madison Hale, who died years earlier. It explains the game’s title, but not what Luca’s grandparents thought when they built a kind of puzzle house. I can understand the locked doors, but the safe combinations, the hidden diaries, and the padlocked toilet seat are, for me, in the inexplicable category.
The plethora of remedies did not help grandmother’s white eyes, and Grandpa’s efforts to lift the curse seem to be only the surface of it all. The storytelling is at least accompanied by a decent visual design. Due to it (and here, I’m also thinking of the monsters), the game shows a proper level, and it’s no exaggeration to say that alongside the simple but impressive story, Bloodious Games has, in many cases, put together well-developed, enjoyable puzzles. It’s not a bad idea to have some sketches, even if only in your head, as the house is constantly changing, so the routes will also change. It is far from Nowhere, the last location of the first Silent Hill. At first, it won’t be disturbing, but it will become bothersome over time. More paths open up, but you often do not realize exactly which piece of furniture, which door, is relevant to you at the moment. Oh, and it is compounded by the inventory system, seen mainly in the first three episodes of Resident Evil, which is also quite restrictive, meaning you won’t always have enough space to store everything, so you’ll have to run back and forth between locations and crates. Oh, and for the camera, you often need to take a photo of specific places to progress. At Normal level, the game will also highlight important objects.
Beyond the lens
At its worst, it takes about 5 hours to play through Madison, whose sound design is, in my opinion, disastrous. The background noises are repetitive, and Luca’s commentary doesn’t feel well performed. It didn’t seem like he was scared. Instead, it felt like a 7-8-year-old little boy growling in an adult body. Then, the jumpscares, with these things suddenly appearing and disappearing, I wouldn’t dare call Madison a psychological horror (that’s what the state party is doing now with the retroactive increase in gas and electricity bills) because it relies too much on this scare type. And, as I mentioned on the first page, it is easy to get lost, and there is not much help for us as to where we are.
OK, the camera is essential in the gameplay (e.g. clicking on a chair with candles around it opens a closed door), but the gameplay would not have been much better without it, and I can’t call the atmosphere strong enough because in this genre you NEED to have a robust sound design. If it is not present, everything fails, and the result will not be good enough. That’s what’s happening here, and the supernaturalness doesn’t pull Madison above an average level: you can feel something is missing.
Okay, multi-piece puzzles are nice, but that doesn’t save Madison from ending up with a six and a half out of ten. If they’d at least gone for excellent audio, I’d say okay, it’s not that bad, and I’d have given it a seven out of ten instead. However, I can only say that I recommend it heavily discounted at most because the game itself is pretty short: I didn’t accidentally highlight that even with digressions, there’s a chance you can finish it in five hours, and you can halve that time the second time around, which is pretty heavy considering that the game is currently 35 euros on Steam. It’s not worth that much. I’d have priced it twenty or so dollars or euros. The concept is good, but BLOODIOUS GAMES has failed with MADiSON on the execution. On console, I’d also highly recommend it on sale possibly, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it becomes part of the PlayStation Plus offering in six months (or a year at worst), lol. (Or Xbox Games With Gold. Or both. Neither would be a significant surprise to me.)
+ There is no lack of visual style
+ Multi-part puzzles looked good
+ The story is effective
– It relies too much on the sudden scare
– Weak in audio
– Very short
Publisher: Bloodious Games
Developer: Bloodious Games
Style: psychological horror
Release: July 8, 2022.