Self-described as a psychological thriller, one in which you are
thrust into the mind of John Evans and a struggle to piece together the
fragments of your past and present, The Shattering has some admirable
ambitions, but it left me feeling ambivalent about their delivery.
John has suffered an unidentified trauma, one that has caused the
shattering in question. Through a number of therapy sessions, and guided
by the voice of his doctor, the game unpicks and unpeels his memories to
get to the heart of what happened. Three hours or so of therapy should
see you through.
John's mind is a fractured place but not a complicated one. There are
no difficult challenges to hold you up as you move through the sessions,
and no real puzzles of any sort. You will essentially be looking for the
next thing to click on to move forward, and often in a contained
environment. On numerous occasions you will be in a room, and you won't
be able to leave if you haven't worked through all the necessary
triggers. While you might be able to open drawers or cupboards which
have nothing relevant in them, generally whatever you need to find will
be one of a very few hotspots, so again the challenge is minimised. The
only real challenge comes in occasionally having to find e.g. the
relevant item on a series of shelves.
Which is fine, because the point of the game is not those things.
The game plays in the first person, and the environments are
predominantly black and white, save for some pertinent objects. It isn't
graphically opulent, but it looks quite good and works rather well in
terms of the narrative. Its construct is at times a high point;
environments falling apart, expanses of nothing, and jittery and
incoherent imagery reflect the state of John's mind.
The soundscape works well, as does the limited voice acting. You move
with the W key and interact with the world with the mouse. That will
predominantly be a left click, but there are some right "click and
holds" that are required, one very early on that held me up for a
while before I realised what I was meant to do.
You will have to find some items but just having them will enable you
to move on, so there is not inventory as such. It autosaves as you go,
and you just choose to continue from the menu.
I admire games that try and explore big subjects. Rescuing princesses
is one thing, exploring mental illness is something else entirely. While
the good things were good, the game as a whole though fell a bit flat.
I played on:
OS: Windows 10, 64 Bit
Processor: Intel i7-9700k 3.7 GHz