Free Game Friday: “Heritage” (PC) 2012
Honestly, with my love for “Fatal Frame” and “Silent Hill”, when I’m browsing for free games few things are more attractive to than a “horror” tag. And “Heritage” seemed to have a lot going for it. You play the viewpoint character, a young woman whose grandmother has just died. In the throes of grief, she finds that she has inherited Grandma’s house, and decides to go for a last visit to say goodbye. Needless to say, it’s a haunted house tale, and it made a lot of people’s “scariest games” lists. Nice, straightforward story, creepy gameplay, and one of my favourite horror tropes. When I saw the above artwork, I was even more stoked. What could go wrong?
See the above? That’s the actual title screen for “Heritage”, and at no point do the graphics even approach the dark-eyed, blood-smeared girl of the artwork. Hell, in general the graphics were only a few steps about “Ultima IX”, and that’s not terrifically impressive. But what the hell, right? You can’t expect a free game to have a massive graphics budget, and a game isn’t all graphics anyway. I’ve played plenty of excellent free games that had graphics dating all the way back to the SNES. So, not gonna bitch. Let’s fire this sucker up and see how she plays.
…aaaaaaand it’s first person.
Okay, confession time, folks; I HATE first-person perspective. Hate it. Hate it hate it hate it hateithateithatehateithateitHAAAAAAAATE. Why? Because I get violently motion sick. I can’t even watch movies like “The Blair Witch Project” without popping a seasickness pill. After about 20 minutes of playing a game in first-person perspective, I start to feel violently ill, to the point where I have vomited. It was a moment of pure joy for me when I realized that “Skyrim” had an option to switch to third-person perspective. I just about cried, people.
There are very few games that intrigue me enough to struggle through first-person perspective, usually with the help of anti-nausea drugs. ”Portal” managed it, as did “Amnesia: The Dark Descent”, and “Half-Life 2″, and I have to admit, “Heritage” managed it as well. Now, I am not trying to compare “Heritage” to these games in terms of quality, but I have to give credit where it is due; this game kept me intrigued enough to grit my teeth, swallow a pill, fight through the inevitable drowsiness, and finish the fucking game. That does not often happen.
Now, for some specifics. For one thing, the first-person perspective is kind of…off. You can actually look down your character’s cleavage. Seriously. And I am a busty girl, but let me tell you, the only way to get that kind of look at your own tits is if you’re wearing a corset, and unless Granny was kinda kinky, that doesn’t seem like normal funeral wear. In addition, your tits get in the fucking way; it can be hard to open a drawer or cupboard you’re standing over because they’re hidden behind your bloody boobs. Attention to all programmers: Busty folk CAN open drawers and rummage through desks without their tits interfering. I swear, it’s possible.
The game also suffers from the same problem I mentioned in my “Uninvited” review; you can pick up EVERYTHING. Again, I don’t mind a few red herrings in an adventure/exploration game, but in a game with clumsy controls and a glitchy inventory system, it would really, REALLY help to not have to sort through five plates, ten cups, and a coffee pot.
The game is also really buggy. Aside from the navigation issues I mentioned before, it can also be really difficult getting around. There’s one point where you climb down a ladder, and get stuck on the bottom rung. It took a lot of jumping and ducking before I could get myself free. There’s another point where you have to search through some boxes, and you have to click several times in just the right spot before you find the necessary item. It would have been very easy to click once or twice in the wrong place (did I mention the dialogue window is the same whether you click in the wrong place or in the right place too few times?) and then decide there was nothing there. Finally, using items is glitchy as fuck. There’s a point where you have to put batteries in a flashlight, and let me tell you, you’d better get it exactly right. If you do it wrong, the fucking flashlight DISAPPEARS. I’ve seen Let’s Plays of this game where the player had to go through the entire last third of the game in the dark because their flashlight vanished.
Finally, the puzzles are insane. I am not in the slightest bit ashamed to say that I used a walkthrough for this game, and I don’t think anyone would blame me. Most of the puzzles are based on quantum physics, and there is a reason I left the science program in university. On the plus side, you feel genuinely triumphant when you solve a puzzle, and if you have a high frustration threshold it will keep you playing, if only so you can flip the game off.
You’re probably getting the impression that I didn’t like the game very much, and…you’re half right. Between searching for walkthroughs, praying for the flashlight, and cursing my character’s bra, I found a lot of frustration in this game. But in between that, wandering the house you will find a lot of scares. Grandma’s house is a creepy place, and you will find yourself genuinely caught up in the mystery of what your grandmother was doing and what the secret of the house might be. And in the end, it wraps up in a conclusion that actually made me shriek. They’re mostly jump scares, but they’re effective, and well-placed.
“Heritage” is very, very far from perfect, but if you like a major challenge and don’t mind some glitches, you’ll find a creepy little experience that will keep you guessing.
“Heritage” can be downloaded here.