This generation of consoles is slowly approaching its finale. But just because the doors are slowly begging to close on it, it does not mean that it is dead and buried, as there is still an abundance of games being released on both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. And while titles such as The Last of Us Part 2, and Ghost of Tsushima are hogging the majority of the slowly dying current gen spotlights, there is still some room in it for titles such as the recently released Those Who Remain.

Those Who Remain, just like the vast majority of horror games, is a first person adventure, which takes you on a journey from the main menu, all the way down to the final credits, and while initially, it does present some rather exciting premise, through the use of the stalking, ever present darkness, it quickly falls off its rails, and falls into the pitfalls of cliché tropes, which over the past five or so years, have been beaten to death by nearly every horror game.

The initial hour or so, which you spend during Those Who Remain, is the definite highpoint of the entire experience. You explore the environment, uncover the ever-growing lore behind the plot, and solve a handful of puzzles, and once Those Who Remain finally starts rolling, and picks up its pace, it throws at you the abhorrent mechanic of insta-fail hostiles. And from that point on, it starts to become more of a hide-and-seek simulator, than a horror game.

When I first stumbled across the abovementioned mechanic, after reaching the library portion of the game, I honestly lost all will to play on any further. However, as I had to play Those Who Remain for this review, I persevered. However, as soon as I started making my way towards the fire escape, which had to be used to enter the library, I noticed something. I noticed that the monster seeking me, was stuck in a loop, and couldn’t get past an invisible wall to get to me. Once I made my way onto fire escape, he finally set himself free, and began walking in circles around a bus stop.

After this particular section, my spirits picked up, as I assumed that this encounter was only a one off, only for the slumbering monstrosity to just jump up on too the floor where I stood. From this point on, what was once an intriguing, and non-invasive experience, turned into a tale of boredom and frustration. As the title’s clunky gameplay mechanics, questionable performance, and ever so rapidly collapsing narrative, begun to increasingly grind on me.

Unlike in games such as Outlast 2 and SOMA, which are ironclad and consistent in terms of their mechanics, narrative, and pacing, Those Who Remain compares rather pale. There is no real horror, the sense of mystery is gone after the first ‘chapter’, and the archaic look and feel of the experience, only adds further nails to this already long-shut coffin. There is no joy, or fun either to be found within Those Who Remain, as the title at hand does very little to pull you in. And ultimately, it feels like it doesn’t want you to play it, as time and time again, it does its absolute best to hamper your experience, and put you down in your place.

To backtrack on my previous comment, that Those Who Remain features no sense of dread, I have to admit that it can induce anxiety within one. As whenever you hit a loading screen, or even a transition between two scenes, there is a pretty good chance, I’d even go as far as to say that there are fifty-fifty odds, that whenever Those Who Remain loads new assets, it has a chance to either crash, or freeze your console completely. After the first three or so times, where I had to hard reset my PlayStation4, I was genuinely afraid to move from one room to the other, as any further soft-locks, had a chance to completely brick my console.

Overall, the technical state of Those Who Remain tethers on unacceptable. As the framerate remains inconsistent throughout the entirety of the game, it has tendency to crash, and all the hostile elements, which always insta-kill you, sometimes send you to a ‘press x to continue’ screen when you stand meters away from them, but at other times, they do nothing, even when you walk right through them. Furthermore, certain hostiles, such as the spider looking creatures, which can be found even within the first chapter, sometimes fail to load completely, and will appear on your screen as big black cubes.

The technical state of Those Who Remain is in short, rather unacceptable. As its dated visuals, and lack of any complex special effects, should never put as much strain on any console. And personally, I feel like the developer’s foray into absolute photorealism was a bad call. As the poorly realised models, in conjunction with last-gen textures, make Those Who Remain look like an early Steam Green Light cash grab, rather than a fully realized current-gen game. It is abundantly clear that the developer behind the title had a clear vision of what it wanted the game to be, but all the bad calls, and questionable decisions made along the way, turned Those Who Remain into a rather sub-par product.

As some of you may know, Those Who Remain has been delayed previously, due to the Corona outbreak. But it in truth, it still needs much more time in the oven which it has been initially given. Those Who Remain, clearly lacks optimization, on both consoles and PC. The unresponsive controls need to be addressed, the inconsistent framerate still has to be taken care of, and most importantly the ever present soft-locks and crashing, has to be eradicated. But this is clearly something which cannot be accomplished with a single patch. And considering that in order to get Those Who Remain up to speed with even the bang average horror games of today, it would need a complete visual overhaul, it is more than likely that very little in terms of the above will ever be addressed, as at this point, the developer behind the game, would probably better off concentrating on a new project.

Overall, Those Who Remain is a title which isn’t really worth your time, or money. As instead of the promised horror, all you really end up getting is pain, in both physical and mental forms. The gameplay that’s here is archaic, and downright monotonous, performance and optimization or downright laughable, and the both the story and visuals are so clumsy, and clunky that they deliver neither joy, nor satisfaction. Those Who Remain, is a like a theme park ride, where you ride across a flat, rickety track, only to be pelted with rocks, as it stops ever five meters. So in the end, if you are looking for a horror game to play, then you should probably keep looking, because Those Who Remain, simply isn’t it.