In Breathing Fear you have a game that can very easily be overlooked. It isn’t the greatest in its genre, but it does what is does rather well. I was pleasantly surprised by it.
Games seem to approach their audiences in two ways. Either they hold your had like you’re a toddler learning to cross the road for the first time. Or they just let you go off and play with the traffic on the M25, without a care for your well being.
Depending on the game in question, either approach is fine. I just want the game to get the decision right. Breathing Fear goes with the approach of dumping you in and letting you loose.
In Breathing Fear you are given very little context as to what is to come. Nor what the game is even about. You’re given a title screen, a brief overview that is literally a single screen. It shows you that you’ll die if your heart-rate hits 70 and what the basic control are. That is it, of you go!
The world you discover has no context at all. It is you in the dark, all alone with a torch. In this instance it is a very clever move as there is a feeling of claustrophobia the instant the game starts.
One thing clear on the screen is the beating heart. Which above all other things causes you to panic. You already know what will happen if it reaches 70. Therefore seeing it starting to increase straight away heightens the tension.
At the same time, your torch is already losing battery. You can see a little around you, so you turn it off. With it off you see your heart-rate increasing further. Then you turn it back on and progress, into the dark on your own.
The house you enter is a giant maze that immediately makes you feel lost. It isn’t a huge setting, you feel lost thanks to the darkness and atmosphere. Forcing you to scrabble around to try and make progress.
It is worth making that progress too, as you’ll find an interesting story unfold as you progress. One that you’ll really want to see to the end. The puzzle elements mean that you do need to cover every nook and crannie too. Again all designed to keep you engaged and on edge.
Little touches that come right out of the jump scare handbook increase the nervousness as you continue to move around. Pictures fall of the wall, strange noises and other such things.
It’s all very well done and I found myself drawn in with each and every step.
Breathing Fear is a decent game, not groundbreaking, but decent. It works rather well on the Switch, especially in handheld mode with some headphones on, thanks to the closeness this can create.
I don’t think I can say Breathing Fear I can say is one you need to rush out and buy. But it is great a game like this can exist. Thanks in main to the continued growth of both the Indie movement and digital distribution.
In the past, games needed to be published on disc. There was no way an experimental game like this would have a chance. But thankfully Breathing Fear and other games like it can exist and even flourish.
If you like suspenseful and atmospheric games, then you cannot go wrong with Breathing Fear. It is a little on the short side, but the time you spend with it will stick with you. But, it is only for fans of the genre!