Crow Country

Crow Country

released on May 09, 2024

Crow Country

released on May 09, 2024

The year is 1990. Edward Crow has disappeared. The owner of 'Crow Country', he has not been seen since he unexpectedly shut down his park two years ago. The silence is broken when a mysterious young woman named Mara Forest ventures into the heart of the abandoned theme park in order to find him.

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Hits the spot. Like a nice fry up on a Saturday morning.

Maybe everything will be okay… And maybe it won't.

An absolutely fantastic little horror experience. There's so much character packed into this it made me feel straight up giddy playing it, and I don't even have much of a nostalgia factor at play for its inspirations.

Setting-wise, it's a very interesting conjunction of the warm, whimsical nature of a children's theme park with the cold, industrial disposition of a self destructive mining operation with a bloody splash of body horror on top. This careful balance extends to the rest of the game as well - the writing is succinct and to the point, lending itself well to both silly and horrific moments. The characters you meet along the way are very charming despite how little overall dialogue there actually is, and this especially applies to Mara herself; there are so many corners of each room you can investigate, and most if not all descriptions are from her direct point of view, reading as her internal monologue, and it's effective at putting you in her shoes.

The music varies from overwhelmingly eerie, discordant ambience to sweet little melodies with an undertone of sadness to them, and the sound design is incredibly immersive in regards to the enemies, weapons, movement and environment alike. The visuals are so focused in what they aim for, and they deliver in spades; there's a perfect amount of clutter and exaggerated details to make things feel lived-in and real despite the low-poly style evoking the feeling of a child's playset.

All of this combines to create something that constantly rides a fine line between cozy, comforting, dread and oh-my-god-what-the-fuck-is-that-horrible-rattling.

The learning curve of the combat - albeit not particularly steep - was unfamiliar enough to be perfectly paced for me over the runtime. The mandatory puzzles were on the easier side for me, I never really had to stop and ponder anything too hard, but there was still enough satisfaction in solving them to keep me hooked. There were also a couple moments I had to pull out a paper and a pencil, and I love that shit. I played on Murder of Crows difficulty, and the mechanics as a whole were simple enough that the resource scarcity led to some harrowing moments without it ever feeling particularly brutal. I'm curious to see how fast I can blaze through this on a replay.

The central mystery and its unravelling really hooked me after the first half hour - things are a lot less simple and cliché than they initially may appear, and there are a lot of welcome surprises in store. The story was a surprisingly excellent tale of greed, humanity's inclination to doom itself for the sake of the short term, and contrasting that in a parallel yet opposing direction - hope in a world where tragedy may ultimately prevail. Its themes ring true with me on multiple levels, especially at this time, and it does a beautiful job of delivering them.

This was an experience I will not soon forget. Do yourself a favor, and give this game a shot, lack of nostalgia be damned.

dudes, this might be the best survival horror game yet

Smaller studios making some banger games this year

Crow Country is a pretty cute little survival horror game with a PSX style - fixed camera angles and (optional) tank controls included. You play as special agent Mara Forest as you explore the now abandoned theme park Crow Country, shooting (or dodging) monsters and meeting up with other survivors.

There are puzzles to solve, weapons to collect, and secrets to find. Tonally and plot-wise it's a lot closer to Resident Evil than Silent Hill. There are some good jokes that contrast to the solid atmosphere when the game really wants to creep you out, and some genuine moments of tension to go with it.

If I had any negatives I might say I wish the game was a little longer (or maybe just bigger areas). That said, fans who are really into it have ample incentive to replay the game with bonuses unlocked after completing it with different ranks. Movement feels pretty good too so I would love to see some speedrunners take it on as well.

Overall, while Crow Country didn't blow me away like Signalis, it makes me happy that the PSX-style really has some fans in the indie world. It's charming and has an engaging enough plot, so I recommend it to anyone who enjoys survival horror.

One of the best survival horror games. Great throwback to oldschool gameplay. Doesn´t overstay it´s welcome and the story is excellent. Could have been a 1987 film by Carpenter or Cronenberg.