Chasing Static Switch Review – Masterclass in Sound Design
Chasing Static is a low poly horror title from Headware Games. This is an experience where audio is one of the most important mechanics, so yes, headphones are a must for the best gameplay. This one can be a bit freaky, but that is not why you’re here.
Does Chasing Static provide a proper horror experience in 2023? Or is this seemingly dated title releasing in the wrong decade? Let’s find out!
Chasing Static follows Chris as he finds out that his father has passed away, and although their relationship was not very good, we receive a notebook that was the only possession of Chris’s father that he was able to pass down to someone, in this case, his son.
Chris then reads the journal and begins to drive a particular direction, but he ends up going a bit the wrong way and stops at a diner. Along the way, things seem a bit off, but you arrive at the Last Stop Cafe where you meet a nice young woman who decides to help you go the correct direction. Unfortunately, things spin out, and you are not where you thought you were. Although you appear to still be in the same diner, it appears to be in a different state with no sign of the woman or anyone else.
You progress to find things out, and crazy thing after crazy thing drives this story up the wall. Chris is in no normal situation here, and the way the story plays out and develops over time is freaky, which is exactly what you want from a horror game. Chris is an interesting character, and the combination of the backdrop and what is happening makes for an intriguing tale that hooks you from start to finish.
As the game progresses, things get naturally weirder. Like certain horror games out there, Chris will find items that serve a purpose in the game. Some items are permanently helpful, like the flashlight/torch and some other story-driven items, while others are temporary that are important in regards to solving puzzles and moving forward.
Chasing Static is a first-person puzzle horror game that is mostly psychological and depends strongly on its sounds to terrify the player. Gameplay is rather simple, and controls are minimal, especially thanks to quick access to certain important items using the d-pad. Although the world can look intimidating and large, this is mostly an illusion, as walls (Both in-game ones and invisible ones) prevent you from going anywhere you should not. This helps to keep Chasing Static linear in its gameplay, which helps to confine the player as they figure out some of the more complicated puzzles.
There is no real threat in Chasing Static, so death is not really a problem, which minimizes the fear-factor. It is creepy, though, and the way some of the story unfolds is through a special device you receive that lets you peek into a memory from a certain location. Finding these helps to fill in some holes in the story, and it is such a fascinating way to add to the drama already happening. This is less of a puzzle-solving scenario and more of a “Hot and Cold” game, where you need to use the device to pinpoint the exact location.
I’m reluctant to share this next information, as I am not quite sure if it is a feature or a glitch, but I did experience on multiple occasions items or “living things” on screen and then seeing them just disappear when trying to interact with them. It did give me the spooks and caused me to jump at times, but considering the flow of gameplay and the theme, I just wasn’t sure if this is intentional or not.
One of the areas that Chasing Static excels in is of course its retro low poly graphical style. This looks and feels like an old N64 or PS1 game, and for some reason, the low poly graphics make things a bit scarier, possibly because of how difficult it is to make out certain things. Despite that, the design of the world and its characters is done wonderfully, and if it is not spooky, it is often strange and designed in such a way that keeps the worrying high even during normal moments.
But let’s put a spotlight on the champion of Chasing Static, and that is the phenomenal sound design. I cannot stress enough how much better this experience is with headphones, as it does escalate the horrific sounds and intense moments. The voice acting, too, is really well done, and although it is not professional grade, the effort behind the voices is commended and adds a whole lot to the storytelling.
Chasing Static is a solid game, and although the experience is on the short side and is incredibly linear, the story, the art style, and the sound department are the winning combination. The price may seem a little high for the amount of gameplay, but Chasing Static is an achievement in low poly game design, and it will be one to be remembered.
Chasing Static is simply a reminder that horror does not need to be hyper-realistic to creep you out. Some times it is the inability to fully make something out, and some times it is the horrific sounds that truly sell the experience.
If you are looking for a short horror story to scare you and your friends on a weekend, this is definitely a worthy candidate. If anything, add this to your wishlist and definitely pick it up on sale. You won’t regret it.
Chasing Static Switch Review provided by Nintendo Link
Publisher: Ratalaika Games
Developer: Headware Games
Release Date: January 12th, 2023
Price: $14.99, £14.99, €14,99
Game Size: 411 MB
Solid story with unique elements
Stunning low poly graphical style
Superb sound design
Could have been scarier
On the short side
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My name is Jason Capp. I am a husband, father, son, and brother, and I am a gamer, a writer, and a wannabe pro wrestler. It is hard to erase the smile on this simple man.