Cry of Fear Review: Terror in the Dark
Cry of Fear is a mod for Half-Life that puts you in a series of frightening and puzzling circumstances that you have to figure out in order to survive. The game’s full of loud noises and jump scares which come at times when you’re full of tension from wandering around in dark and creepy places. The game starts with impenetrably black hallways marked in places with white X’s. Using the camera in your hands, your character can snap a picture at the X, revealing either a message in blood, a door into another room or a hideous sight meant to scare the player. There’s no explanation as to why you’re in these hallways, and when you get to the end of the halls, then you end up somewhere else entirely. This is one of those things that goes on through the game, helping to drive up its unnerving quality.
You have objectives to complete in order to move forward, and the nice thing is that usually by looking around you can find all the clues you need to accomplish goals and move on. Some clues come in the form of notes, and these end up on your inventory notepad. But not everything will go there, so you need to watch and make sure you see a message indicating that the clue has been saved. Otherwise you’ll find yourself having to backtrack and re-find things you need.
Speaking of saving, Cry of Fear uses tape recorders as save points. This is another nice touch, as it tells the player there are only a few places where they should feel secure, and then not for very long. The first tape recorder shows up a little bit after the first puzzle, but there’s little to no physical danger between where the game begins and that point.
Your character is a vulnerable sort of person, and as such he has a physical condition bar that depletes when you perform strenuous actions like jumping or sprinting away from monsters. This can get sort of annoying if you’re stuck in a certain area because he keeps failing to jump over or onto obstacles that impede progress. A wait of a few seconds can fill up the bar again, but it was a feature that I didn’t like much at all, especially in the more physically demanding sections or when I kept not making it onto the platform I needed to get to. It would’ve been better to exclude certain kinds of actions from the whole fatigue bar thing, but it’s a minor nuisance at best.
Health doesn’t regenerate in Cry of Fear; instead you have to get it back by using syringes that you find in lying around in the deserted streets or watery sewer tunnels.
Cry of Fear is diabolical when it comes to inventory. You only have six slots, so that leaves you some hard choices of what to carry around with you, especially weapon-wise. While there were moments I didn’t appreciate being so limited, it definitely added to the survival horror feel of the game.
I downloaded the game through Steam, and I did have a few technical issues that delayed my enjoyment of Cry of Fear until I got them under control. If you’re having trouble as well, then try this Steam Support page. The solutions there solved most of my issues, except for the red band that ate my game from the top of the screen. That one I solved by playing the game in a lesser resolution and also windowed instead of full screen. These issues might just be with my PC, but if putting them here saves a player some frustration then it’s worth it.
Like Slender, Cry of Fear depends on its atmosphere to do most of the scaring work. Yes, things jump out at you, and the monsters that attack you can be creepy, but it’s the ambient sounds, and the abandoned spaces that make Cry of Fear a successful game.