Chasing Static is a low-poly psychological horror title isn’t aiming for out and out scares as much as creating a foreboding atmosphere to suck us into the story. In this, it succeeds pretty well really, with the roughly 3 hour runtime maintaining a sense of dread throughout. We could have used a little more action, but as it is this is definitely something to check out.
The gameplay is simple but effective; explore around half a dozen locations looking for certain key items in order to solve the various puzzles, and progress the tale to figure out what is going on? It’s very 1995-era survival horror in this aspect, which is something we found to be enjoyable indeed.
Each of the areas are fairly small, though there are plenty of hidden corners or pathways to explore that hold said items. Early on, we’re granted a Frequency Displacement device that, when held up, allows us to find the echoes of people previously here. This allows us story exposition as they chat about the plot in fairly well acted and interesting scenes.
Finding these is key, as they often give us a clue as to where we’re heading or what we’re looking for next. There’s no quest log to speak of, so paying attention to these is a must, although again, the areas aren’t so large that we can’t resort to simply hunting about to find what we need.
Once more harking back to older survival horrors, items aren’t labelled for use so it’s up to us to figure out where things go. It’s far from rocket science (a fresh battery might just go where the previously discovered dead one is, for example) but it did lend an air of exploration to the experience that we enjoyed. The UI system is a little too era-appropriately clunky at times, but thankfully we don’t spend a great deal of time changing items or in the menus for this to be too much of a hassle.
The tale follows Chris as he heads back home from burying his father. Travelling back to his home town in Wales to do so, he gets lost on his way home, finding a diner to stop at for a rest. After a brief chat with the waitress, shit goes sideways and it’s from here we begin the adventure. While fairly short, the tale is told effectively through the echoes, keeping players in the loop without necessarily spelling everything out for us. By the time we reach the end the conclusion was fairly obvious, but it was still well handled and interesting. There are multiple endings to discover which will incentivise repeat plays, though we were perfectly happy with how our run-through ended up as it is.
Those loy-poly visuals do wonders for old timers like us. We really enjoyed the style, giving us fond memories of playing early Sega Saturn/PS1 titles. It’s not all hazy nostalgia though, as Headware Games have crafted the presentation really rather well across the board. It might not have the glitz of most modern titles, but something about this aesthetic we feel makes things even creepier. One moment towards the end gave us a genuine jump despite the retro-styled visuals.
We enjoyed our time through the story, though we could have used a little more in the way of gameplay tension. There’s no combat at all, despite the occasional apparition appearing to chase us. Even this doesn’t do much, as it just floats around us harmlessly until it disappears. Perhaps a bug, but considering we don’t get any offensive weaponry we’d hazard a guess that this is as intended.
We must note too that this review is a little late to the party as the Series console versions were plagued by technical issues shortly after launch. A quick read of the reviews on the Xbox store paint an unflattering picture, but seeing as you’re reading this now we believe the issues to be fixed. You should have no problem playing, though it’s worth mentioning to assuage the complaints out there up until now.
All in all, we enjoyed our time with Chasing Static. The retro-stylings hooked us in and gave the creepy atmosphere a more unique flavour, while the gameplay and story were good enough to keep us coming back for more. A little more action wouldn’t have gone amiss, but as it is, Chasing Static comes out as something we’d recommend to those looking for something a little different.Become a Patron!
This game was reviewed based on Xbox S|X review code, using an Xbox S|X console. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.