After a few years of diffusion in the indie field, where it has become a sort of cult above all for its direct derivation from the Japanese horror tradition, Kageroh - this is the original name of the work - arrives on consoles and we analyze it in this Shadow Corridor review on Nintendo Switch. It is an adventure with survival horror elements that descends directly from the new tradition of the genre in the first person, with the typical characteristics of the defenseless (or almost) protagonist and hunted by powerful and evil creatures, from which we can only escape.
Amnesia should be taken as a paradigm of this particular interpretation of the genre, which paved the way for experiences of pure terror, elevating video games to real first person horror, further enhanced by the even greater involvement that this medium is able to guarantee.
From this point of view, video game horror has undergone a real revolution in recent years, going from being a mere alternative setting for action in a B-movie style, to something more subtle and psychological. , based on a sense of powerlessness in the face of metaphysical threats and on the need to flee to save oneself, rather than consuming bullets on enemies to release tension.
With Silent Hill acting as an intermediate point between the two different conceptions, the horror of Shadow Corridor undoubtedly derives from this modern interpretation and also presents itself as one of the most characterized from the point of view of the atmosphere, thanks above all to theJapanese setting who can freely recover Japanese stylistic features at will. Shinden-zukuri domestic architecture, lanterns, votive statuettes and masks of the nō theater therefore have the green light in the particular scenarios of this game, with all their terrifying power experienced in the first person.
Story of a midsummer nightmare
La history Shadow Corridor does not develop according to a standard dynamic, but partially exploits the environmental narrative that we have also seen in other titles of this type, although it is even weaker and more fragmented in this case. Scattered documents and textual introductions to the levels are limited to some suggestions and general indications, in a story that is barely mentioned and yet works quite well in creating the particular rarefied and dreamlike atmosphere that characterizes the whole experience of the game. It all begins with a simple walk on a late summer afternoon, when the protagonist finds himself inexplicably attracted to a simple alley hidden between the houses of a Japanese town. It is perhaps the smell, the atmosphere or the particular light that draws us between the quiet houses, or the memory of summers spent in similar and apparently carefree places.
Soon, this little excursion turns into a real nightmare: from the normal passageways between the secondary entrances of the village houses, moreover portrayed in a rather convincing way, you pass to increasingly dark and bizarre settings, until you realizes that he has slipped into something different from the normal and reassuring everyday reality.
Paths and corridors change at every turn and blind alley, throwing us into a dimension in which survival is no longer taken for granted and our existence is constantly threatened by presences waiting in the darkness, ready to hunt and eliminate us at first contact. Excerpts from the newspaper, diaries and documents vaguely introduce a story of mysterious cults, mass disappearances and family dramas related to brutal crimes, but much of the plot is left out of the text and paratext, which can be interpreted by the player who still finds himself committed above all to surviving and the impossibility of making sense of the overwhelming horror takes a back seat.
Tra walking simulator e survival horror
The title summarizes well what we are dealing with: corridors and shadows are the main elements of the gaming experience, which in terms of gameplay can be classified as a first-person adventure with survival horror elements, developing mostly as a sort of walking simulator where, however, we are constantly hunted by unbeatable threats, against which we can only hide and escape, possibly by finding hiding places and developing stealth strategies. In short, substantially something very similar to the aforementioned Amnesia and the other titles that are derived from this style, but with the characterizing element, in this case, of having to do with Japanese mythology and folklore that determine the particular style of the setting and some game solutions such as the use of ritual objects that can help us along the way.
While maintaining the characteristics of the different environments, the levels are composed in a way procedural, which makes each game unique, as much of the game is about finding our way through the maze of corridors and rooms we find ourselves in from level to level. The aim is simply to find the exit or collect a certain amount of objects that allow access to the next steps, but this requires the fact that we have to face a series of nightmare creatures, against which we are practically unarmed, as we cannot bring they give to ghosts and various presences.
However, we can exploit various strategies: the secret of Shadow Corridor is to understand the patterns of the enemies well and use it against them, since each one responds to precise logics that can be exploited to evade them. In general, they are attracted to light or sound, so we must move accordingly and possibly use bait or cause noises in order to distract them or attract them to other areas.
It is a challenge of considerable intensity, also because the tension it is constant, given the threat of game over at every match and the oppressive atmosphere. Shadow Corridor is definitely not a game suitable for those who do not support tension well, because after the first reflective and apparently calm moments it always remains anchored to a sense of continuous restlessness, which results in terror from jump scare or in the subtle fear of always being hunted or chased. This is practically all he plays on, because the gameplay otherwise does not offer particularly original solutions or great variations on the theme, focusing above all on the exploration of the labyrinthine maps, the collection of key-objects and survival.
Aesthetics: charm and anguish
The corridor theme predominates throughout the game, making the settings necessarily narrow and claustrophobic: on the one hand this leads to the particular characterization of the whole experience of the game, on the other it represented an optimal solution for the construction of settings easily manageable and of great impact even with minimal effort. Kageroh was developed practically alone by Kazuki Shiroma, founder of Space Onigiri Games. Starting as an amateur project, the game then expanded and progressively enriched with an increasingly refined use of the Unreal Engine until reaching remarkable results, at least on PC. However, the limits of a very small production continue to be seen in several aspects, from the obvious repetition of assets to the lack of a complex construct between narration and gameplay, able to explain the progression and apply substantial variations to the game.
In any case, theatmosphere it is precisely the winning element of Shadow Corridor, obtained with a skilful use of the few means available and relying on the universal charm of Japanese horror, linked to the folklore and traditions of the Rising Sun that distinguish it from many other similar titles as a structure, making it somewhat unique. The excellent mix with the audio is also noteworthy, with the soundtrack appearing in the most excited moments to underline the sense of anguish and the disturbing noises associated with every single creature.
La Nintendo Switch version appears further limited from a technical point of view, with the application of a rather low resolution to a base already not particularly rich in terms of polygonal construction, giving the whole an all too simple aspect, even if in the narrower interiors these problems fade remarkably.
CommentTested version Nintendo Switch Digital Delivery Steam, Nintendo eShop Resources4Gaming.com
Shadow Corridor is probably one of the most disturbing videogame experiences seen recently and this may already be enough for fans. Son of the new line of first-person survival horror based on stealth and the need to avoid an unequal clash with the enemies that hunt us, Shadow Corridor manages to stand out in the midst of the large amount of similar titles thanks to its particular Japanese setting, which characterizes not just the scenarios but the whole game experience. The connection to Japanese folklore gives a specific quid that is not easy to find elsewhere and stages a very peculiar horror. However, those looking for a slightly structured game might find this constant wandering between random corridors a little limited and repetitive, because Shadow Corridor is above all a collection of moments of terror that focus on the atmosphere, not so much amalgamated into a real and own video game form.
- Gorgeous Japanese horror atmosphere
- It can be really scary
- Procedural generation can vary things
- A bit limited in terms of gameplay
- Technically poor, especially in the Nintendo Switch version