Feeling Nostalgic for Old Horror Titles Such as The Clock Tower and The Hunting Ground? If That’s the Case, Claire is Sure to Bring Back Some Good Memories
I am a big fan of horror. From movies and shows, trough video games and books, and all the way to the modern day creepypastas, I thoroughly enjoy playing, reading and watching scary material. On the other hand, I am also a big fan of doggos and cannot imagine my life without these loyal, brave, smart (…. I can go on forever) creatures roaming around my house and my yard. So, when two of these things combine in a form of virtual entertainment, I simply must check it out, and that is exactly how I discovered Claire.
Claire is a 2014 2D survival horror game published and developed by Hailstorm Games. The plot follows Claire, a high school female protagonist in a desperate search for her comatose mother who has disappeared from her hospital bed.
The game starts out with some rather cheerful music and a conversation in between Purple Friendship Bear, Blue Harmony Bear and the main protagonist Claire about opening a portal to the Candy Palace. Things start going sour in about ten seconds as Green Bitter Bear joins the conversation and starts complaining for not being included in the game, upon which the cheerful music starts getting slower and eerier before coming to a screeching halt. This is when young Claire awakes from her teddybear-filled dream and discovers her room getting filled with dark smoke and black butterflies. The player is given an option to run but that only leads to Claire being pulled back towards the black smoke by an unknown force.
The game goes from surprisingly cute to surprisingly disturbing in about one minute.
Upon breaking free, young Claire can explore the house in search of her parents and her brother Ethan but that only leads to more horrors as the house gets corrupted and random furniture starts flying around, tv begins emitting poltergeist-like static and every clock gets stuck at 3:33 am. Everything culminates with Claire discovering her parents’ bloodied bed levitating in the midair, following which, now much older Claire, wakes up in a hospital room next to her bedridden mother.
The player’s then tasked with controlling Claire in an effort to find coffee, but after a short elevator ride, the dark smoke starts taking over, eventually causing Claire to be transferred to a corrupt version of the hospital where dark figures lurk the hallways and the lack of electricity means that Claire’s lighter is her only source of illumination. It wouldn’t be long before Claire discovers her mother’s bed empty and she is caught by a huge flesh-like monster who then attempts to pluck her entrails out with a giant rib bone. In the last moment, she is saved by her trusty loyal companion, a German Shepard named Anubis. From there the two go on an eerie exploration of the corrupt hospital wings and apartment buildings as well as some other locations which I will not mentioned here as to evade spoiling the game and its further plot.
Gameplay-wise Claire features a 2D environment which the player is able to freely explore with goals of finding clues to the story, as well as triggering optional special events which impact the game’s ending. Besides the free exploration, Claire is also reminiscent of Clock Tower as it features no combat. The player is only able to run and hide from the pale-faced enemies known as Growlers, with occasional ability to temporarily obstruct their advance by placing object in between. Nevertheless, this only serves as a short slowdown, as Growlers always break through the barriers and continue their pursuit until the player successfully hides or escapes at least two rooms away. The dog companion serves as an early warning for enemies, as it will start barking as soon as one is nearby. He is also able to occasionally scare off or slowdown incoming Growlers.
The doggo also come in handy in maintaining sanity, as this game, like many other modern-day horror games, also features a sanity meter. Sanity gets depleted by witnessing disturbing events or being pursued by enemies and if it reaches zero, Claire’s health will begin to drop until her eventual death. In order to maintain her sanity, Claire can either pet her dog or play fetch with him, or can find and eat hard candy and chocolate bars. Having a good light source also helps, as Claire will not get frightened easily, so it is crucial for players to ration the batteries they find, as the lighter illumination is rather dim and offers little fright protection.
Not sure how chocolate can fix your sanity after being chased by these things, but it's better than nothing i guess.
In regard to the graphics, Claire is phenomenally executed with old-school pixelated graphics utilized to the max in order to evoke a scary gameplay environment. Distorted imagery followed by static noise additionally contributes to the overall creepiness of the game’s atmosphere and the excellent background music and sounds further enhance immersion. The dog mechanics are similar to the Hunting Grounds, while the levels are very Silent Hill-like, meaning that Claire was heavily inspired by these games.
Map and inventory layout really remind of older titles such as Silent Hill and Resident Evil.
Overall, it took me about 8 hours to complete Claire, and I am currently on my second playthrough in an attempt to get the good ending. As such, Claire is sure to offer many more of fun and scare, so for the current Steam selling price of 2.99 USD, this game is basically a steal.
The Steam sale on Claire lasts until May 7th so make sure to grab it until then.
Edited by EchelonBrk