The autumn season has always been my favorite. Offering cooler weather, crunchy leaves, and, most importantly, the seasonal high of Halloween and all things horror, it’s as distinct as the December holidays but in an even better way. After so many years of binging horror movies every September and October, it feels like I’m starting to scrape the streaming service barrel looking for hidden gems. So I was excited to find my hands-on time with Remothered: Broken Porcelain gave me that elusive rush that comes with finding an under-the-radar horror.
Remothered: Broken Porcelain is both a prequel and sequel to 2018’s Remothered: Tormented Fathers. Tormented Fathers’ story gets pretty confusing, and even though Broken Porcelain opens with a “Previously On” section, it’s definitely a story you should witness firsthand if you can. Having said that, I think the best attribute of Broken Porcelain is its atmosphere, which you can appreciate all on its own.
My demo of the game took about two hours to complete and occurred entirely in one building. Staying put for a couple hours in one location can be tough to keep interesting, but like its predecessor, Broken Porcelain uses its limited space wisely. It actually speaks to the allure of this series. Remothered has always had a very DIY indie horror feel to it, and Broken Porcelain is no exception. While you can rightfully read that to mean “unpolished,” the areas of concern I saw — like interactable objects being tough to use — are on the developer’s list of improvements ahead of launch.
Moreso when I say DIY, I mean this game’s unique mix of new and old survival horror mechanics in a story and setting that wouldn’t get greenlit in a major publisher horror game. Even as Remothered‘s penchant for confusing plot details and ever-shifting focus share a lot in common with Resident Evil, it goes places Capcom’s bestseller never has and likely never would.
Like the horror games of old, there are elaborate keys to find and environmental puzzles to solve before you can progress, but plenty of modern influences are clear too — like a near-total inability to defend yourself from enemies. With that en vogue hide-and-seek mechanic of Outlast and the puzzles of Silent Hill, Remothered: Broken Porcelain may have found the balance between what was and what is.
It also helps tremendously that its stealthier sections are enhanced by unpredictable AI enemies. You can’t reliably predict where they’ll go next, so you have to trust your hearing in order to evade their gaze. In just a couple hours with the game, there were several times where I hid in a closet for minutes at a time, worriedly not knowing when it would be safe to exit. Even then, enemies can check those spaces too, so hiding away offers little respite, and once you’re being chased, they don’t let up easily. Offering little guidance toward your next puzzle solution or vital quest item, it’s a relentless game.
It’s also an imperfect one. Despite a list of fixes expected to be resolved before it launches on Oct. 20, Remothered: Broken Porcelain will likely still launch with its inconsistent voice acting performances and an uneven mix of audio that gets much louder for cutscenes.
Enemies can behave a bit weirdly too. Without their predisposed footpaths to travel, you may see them opening doors repeatedly or lingering longer than you may expect while you’re hiding, but horror games have historically gotten away with issues like this: Alien: Isolation comes to mind. Maybe it’s because the forefathers of the genre — the Resident Evils and Silent Hills — were always as exhilarating as they were janky, but players are often quicker to forgive some blatant issues if the scares and the story are left intact.
Remothered: Broken Porcelain feels like the epitome of the genre in that way, and if it succeeds, it may do so in spite of its own flaws. This October, horror fans will have their hands full already with stuff like Amnesia: Rebirth and Little Hope arriving just before All Hallows’ Eve, but if you’re looking for something off the beaten path, something smothered in the fingerprints of its writer, Remothered: Broken Porcelain seems to be on track to be this season’s unsung hero. I’ll want to play it all before offering my final verdict, but after this hands-on preview, it feels like the kind of horror story you stumble upon by chance but then stays with you long after it’s over.
Remothered: Broken Porcelain is coming to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC on Oct. 20 for $29.99.