A story-driven survival horror game, Uncanny Valley by developer Cowardly Creations centers around a pixelated world, in which you must explore a mysterious facility and uncover its secrets, before your own past catches up with you.
In regards to gameplay, this 2D side-scroller relies on simple interactions with items in the environment and choosing how to spend your time. Unlike some games, it is possible to acquire one weapon and limited ammo, but it is also possible to pass them up entirely. The ambient soundtrack definitely maintains a sense of eerie tension throughout the game. The stakes are raised by only allowing the player to explore the facility and surrounding area in five minute increments, which goes by quite quickly when dealing with a facility with multiple floors. You must act decisively, but keep in mind that almost every choice can have an impact on the story. Speaking of, the game also utilizes a consequence system. Instead of dying when you make a mistake, you are maimed and can lose the ability to run, crouch, or wield a weapon. All of these are critical to survival and can also affect the player’s ability to achieve certain endings.
Of course, any game with multiple endings and choice based interface encourages multiple playthroughs. Unfortunately, there isn’t really a save system so you must rely on autosaves (and perhaps exiting to the main menu to activate your last checkpoint before meeting your demise, hopefully before it saves again and forces you to start over). Luckily, the game is quite short so it doesn’t take too long if you do have to restart.
Uncanny Valley was recently ported from a PC to a console format, and at times it certainly feels like it. There are a few glitches I noticed in the gameplay, but nothing critical enough to affect the storyline. It is also worth noting that at moments I found the PC to console controls to be a little cumbersome.
Although the game describes itself as driven by a compelling story, I found the story to be more confusing and vague than anything else. In my first few playthroughs, the clues that I found seemed to only emphasize this ambiguity. It is difficult to balance exploration and investigation when one must sort through emails and audio recordings on multiple floors in the span of five minutes. The story is further complicated when elements of the protagonist’s personal story are introduced. This is where multiple playthroughs become necessary. You must go back to catch clues you may have missed and piece them together with what you already know in order to gain a true understanding of the narrative. I felt myself wishing that I had more time on each night.
Everything considered, if you are a completionist and fan of retro side scrollers, you might get a kick out of this game. Otherwise, you may feel more frustrated than entertained.