Westmark Manor Gameplay Preview – Dungeon crawling, survival horror game

*Westmark Manor developed by Nodbrim Interactive, published by Toadman Interactive – June 18, 2020
*MSRP: $14.99 (Steam) – https://store.steampowered.com/app/1158970/Westmark_Manor/

Westmark Manor is a dungeon crawling survival game with Lovecraftian trappings and a heavy helping of jump scares. The core game play loop is navigating a mansion, room by room, whilst avoiding traps and trying your darnedest to survive.

Moving carelessly will result in a quick loss of sanity and death.

The main mechanic is using the lantern to light up dark places. The darkness will reduce your sanity, which acts as your health bar. Using the lantern uses up bottles of oil so the game is a balancing act of exploring the mansion to gathering the supplies you need while doing it fast enough to avoid running out of oil. However going too quickly can lead you to make mistakes and run into traps, causing more damage to your sanity. In some cases you can literally fall off the map and die instantly so makes sure to proceed with caution.

The jump scares weren’t effective for me. It may be due to the cartoonish graphics but more probably due to the lack luster sound design.

As you are exploring, the game introduces random jump scares that range from a ghost lady spawning right behind your back to a bunch of random zombie like creatures instantly materializing from thin air. I personally did not find them effective as the art style was a bit too cartoonish and that undermined the scares quite a bit. The jump scares may be effective for other players.

The narrative is delivered through letters and documents. It’s quite effective and the part of the game I liked the most.

There is plenty of lore in the game as well, detailing the back story of the protagonist, his family history, and the events that lead up to his current predicament. The writing is well done and pays tribute to Lovecraftian horror.

Overall, Westmark Manor’s main game play loop shows a lot of promise but is held back a little bit by some minor flaws in the game. The game requires some patience and has a learning curve. Slowly and methodically searching through the mansion and finding out the narrative through letters started to grow on me. The narrative aspect of the game reminded me of Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs in a good way.

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