I still find it baffling how I used to finish scary games so easily in my youth. Back in those university days I’d fire up the PS2 and blitz through Gregory Horror Show. Playing through Silent Hill 2 with a group of friends and easily laugh off the scares of Haunting Grounds. I then naively thought I’d do a dissertation on survival horror and create the design for one by myself. To get a good idea of what would work, I played and analysed Silent Hill 2, 3 and 4. Dug out old horror movies and stories then went on to find out how the norm can be twisted and shaped into something disturbing. I didn’t sleep very well after that for a few weeks. These days game creators are so good at being disturbing it’s surreal. I can’t play Resident Evil 7 for more than 30 minutes before turning it off and playing an hour of Mario to recover. How would I fare jumping into a recommendation on Twitter with no knowledge other than a short description as a retro horror game? It’s time to find out if no one lives under the lighthouse…
No one lives under the lighthouse is a first person terror game. It’s neither horror nor thriller as for the most part it’s light on jump scares and focuses more on the slow build of unnerving fear that creeps up on you however you play. There is almost zero dialogue or help throughout and the gameplay largely consists of going to the lighthouse and following the simple tasks to keep it going. You are free to explore the small island as you do your tasks and the shed, the beach, your home and the lighthouse itself. There’s a few things to see and do but thankfully for the most part you’ll figure out where you need to go without too many issues. The oil that fuels the light is stored in the basement of the lighthouse and going down is a terrifying task that requires a deep breath each time. Despite the knowledge that there is only a very small chance you’ll be killed back to a previous checkpoint, each and every time the task gets harder.
Everything looks and feels like a Sega Saturn/Ps1/Early 3D PC game through and through. From the unique rendering to the limited interaction with objects. There’s a limited set of controls and your actions are context based. It’s the sort of setup where you expect to feel nostalgic but the result is a feeling that something isn’t quite right (in a good way) The juxtaposition of smooth controls and swift loading against an older style makes for a feeling of intentional discomfort that a lot of retro looking horror games fail to achieve. No one lives under the lighthouse both feels old and new at the same time. The audio does a lot of work to unsettle the player as you progress but the level design and the subtle ways it plays with expectations is the underlying reason for the fear. Even with the sound muted you can find yourself chasing shadows or jumping at a seagull that was completely harmless. There are moments of horror to be had but you’ll mostly be experiencing that deep unsettling fear that something dangerous is just out of sight throughout.
From the dark dealings and multiple endings to be had, you’re in for a fearsome treat should you step into No one lives under the lighthouse. What starts off as a simple ‘collect the 4 things’ trope that so many indie horror games have used prior, ends up a twisted tale of Lovecraftian malice and incredible fear. You’re expected to draw your own conclusions from the endings and the typical end that most players will get encourages you to go back and collect everything to get the true ending. It’ll take some mental muscle to play though and not because it’s a difficult game but that the unnerving unsettling unexplained fear makes it unpleasant to play. In any other genre these feelings would make it a game to avoid but as a game to play at Halloween? Or if you’re a fan of feeling like you want all the lights on and no sleep? What more do you want.
Terrified / 10 – There’s a reason no one lives under the lighthouse anymore…
If you fancy checking out No one lives under the lighthouse, the steam page is over here and I rarely mention the price but at £3.99 it’s an easy recommend if you enjoy feeling terror.
This isn’t a sponsored review and the game was purchased by myself, thanks to Dan (@normal_homem) for the recommendation!
Did you like what you read? Did you enjoy the fact there were no adverts for your adblocker to deal with? Maybe consider buying your old pal ElderlyGoose a Kofi?
Just click the link here https://ko-fi.com/A0A18JTG and for £3 consider yourself sorted for one good deed done for the day!
I don’t run a Patreon because all the work I create ends up on the site in one way or another and I fund the site myself so any money does directly go to the site to fund the web hosting and such, anything left over will go on games and coffee!