Welcome to the Game – PC
Developer: Reflect Studios
Publisher: Reflect Studios
Release Date: June 15th, 2016
Nerd Rating: 7.5 / 10
Reviewed by Rhutsczar
Welcome to… Welcome to the Game, a terror and dread-filled exploration of the Deep Web. What are we looking for in such a seedy part of the Internet? Well our intrigued (and quite possibly sick) mind has a hankering for some gorn, more commonly known as gore porn for you non-internet dwellers out there. What would satisfy this fixation of ours? Well a trip to a “Red Room” would suffice. Our objective in Welcome to the Game is to find hidden clues in order to find a live stream of some hardcore torture porn.
For those of you who are not familiar with the Deep Web, let me give you a quick run down. The Deep Web is where the majority of the Internet actually exists, unreachable by normal browsers. Users can access the Deep Web from their personal computers using a specific type of browser, the most popular being ToR. The Deep Web is your one stop shop for everything deplorable. Need some drugs delivered directly to your door? The Silk Road had you covered. How about some children to work for you? Check. How about needing a rival killed? They have that too. At least most of the hit man have standards, as they won’t kill children…or most people under the age of 18 for that matter.
Once you begin Welcome to the Game, you are taught briefly about how the game works via a Skype chat with your supposed best friend. After the tutorial, you are let loose into an index of websites found on the Deep Web. Most of the sites contain some form of graphic content, with the more gruesome ones only being available at certain times of the night. This is a very click-centric game, as you often won’t be able to find the clues you are desperately hunting for with the naked eye alone. Once you find all eight codes you are looking for, then you will be granted the key to the infamous “Red Room”.
As you search through the Deep Web for the hints mentioned above, you may want to watch out for your worst enemy, the wild hacker. These hackers enjoy lurking in the recesses of the Deep Web and will attack at the most inconvenient of times, because they wouldn’t be doing their job if they weren’t. These hacks can occur in two different ways, a DOS hack and a Kernel hack. Both hacks are simplified as mini games to make defending against them a tad bit enjoyable. If you are suffering from a DOS hack, you have to navigate through a series of digital mazes and reach the end without missing a step. If it is a Kernal hack though, you have to quickly copy down a series of code before time runs out and you lose everything.
Alright, so now that you have made it past the hackers what else stands in your way? Well, how about actually being abducted from behind your computer by an Easter-bloc kidnapper? One of the primary horror mechanics in Welcome to the Game, this unnamed kidnapper shows up when you haven’t been hiding your tracks very well tsk tsk. You can try to avoid the kidnapper by turning off the lights when you think he is around and sitting quietly until they are gone. By sitting quietly, I mean you, the player. A rather unique mechanic, Welcome to the Game utilizes your computer’s microphone and detects sounds while you are playing. Any sound you make can affect your game. Throughout any single play through, you need to be careful of your surroundings. Any creak in your big empty house can be a kidnapper, just waiting to put you into the “Red Room”.
As you can tell, in Welcome to the Game ambiance is incredibly important. After having completed multiple playthroughs, it makes a significant difference if you are playing in a well-lit room with your speakers than say if you were dark in a corner with your headphones. This is a game for the late night fiends in all of us. Looking for a title to pick up at 2 am and not sleep afterward? Welcome to the Game is exactly what you need.
Here is the biggest drawback to Welcome to the Game…unless you have set the mood correctly and are completely into it, you will get bored rather quickly. The hackers can strike consistently, becoming a mere annoyance rather than an obstacle. Since not all of the websites are available at once, you will find yourself lost and uninterested in the lack of graphic content available at any mere moment. Sure you could go to the “Silk Road” to buy drugs and weapons, but what does “The Doll Maker” have to offer? You may never get to see her goods and services if you don’t time it right.
Overall, in terms of replay-ability, Welcome to the Game is a one or two shot at the most. While they are in the process of patching it, there is only one main ending that is rather lackluster. It actually takes away from the entire tone of the game, almost trying to censor the violence that it has already exposed us to. Not to mention that once you make it to the aforementioned “Red Room”, not many players are interested in exploring all of the different smut and religious extremist sites available in the index. Developed as a side project by Reflect Studios, you can definitely tell that it wasn’t expected to be a major hit. But for a $1.99 purchase on Steam, you can’t beat it.
Alright so to wrap things up in a nice little bow, Welcome to the Game is a different game to come out of the wood work… A rather simplistic hacking simulator, it succeeds in being a satisfying horror/puzzle title to waste a couple of hours involved in. Will you be able to survive the hackers and the weirdly handsome yet horrifying kidnapper? Maybe it’s your turn to log into the Deep Web.
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