You’ve never had detention like this before.
I got an email, one from a developer named Coconut Island Studio. It was inquiring about reviewing their game Detention which had just released on PS4. I’m a glutton for horror games and Detention didn’t ring any bells, so what’s the worst that could happen. I sat down, put my headphones on, turned down the lights and began. I didn’t expect something that would quite unnerve me the way Detention did, but it firmly planted its claws into me from the get go.
Detention takes place sometime in the 1960’s when martial law was in place in Taiwan, an idea that in and of itself is scary regardless. Set in a remote mountain area, two characters find themselves stuck in what appears to be some scary and horrific event that makes things go from spooky to just terrifying. What makes Detention stick out so much is its art style and animation. It looks like pastel or paper mache pieces that have come to life. With animations that showcase weird jerks and odd movement, this really only gives it a further creepy look.
Price I’d Pay: $12.99
How long to beat: 3+ hours
Moving across the environments leads to further exploration, finding clues, and picking up items to help solve puzzles. It’s very much in the style of a point and click game. Progression is factored on new story developments, solving puzzles, and knowing how to proceed forward. One puzzle really gave me a cringe when figuring out what I had to do, it was half unexpected but the fact it happened and the way it animated, just creeped me out. There is absolutely no combat here to speak of, but there are enemies that traverse the halls and holding the character’s breath slowly walking past them is the only option. Running when caught, the only resolve.
The sound design is another huge factor in providing intense or scary atmosphere, and Detention does this super well. Quiet moments in hallways, along with weird sounds or effects come into play. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss voice acting in the game, but it still gets the point and its story moments across otherwise. Making it into a new room only for a moody track starting to play always puts me on my toes.
Low budget, high scares
Detention might not be garnering a ton of talk about its release on the PS4, which is a shame. Looking at the PC release, the reception then seemed to show a lot of critics agreeing, Detention does a lot with what’s there on a smaller scale. An extremely well done story crafted inside a psychological horror game that nails its terrifying atmosphere. It might not be the longest game or even the best horror game, but it truly got under my skin at times, and that’s one of the highest accolades I can give any title in the genre. Independent horror games continue to shine and bring forth some of the most interesting experiences when least expected. Here we have one that mixes history with fiction creating an ultimately trippy, twisted journey.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.