“When the demon’s knocking on your door, you’ll still be staring down the floor.”
Well, October has come and gone with the speed of an incontinent cheetah, and the current world situation has left the spooky scenarios lacking. You can’t appreciate a horror film when you’re living in one that’s absolutely boring, and you can’t appreciate horror games when you’re playing the most dangerous one of all: life. Pretentious paragraph out of the way, Remothered: Broken Porcelain.
This is the sequel to 2018’s Remothered: Tormented Fathers, a quaint but effective horror title masterminded by Italian game designer Chris Darril. Whereas Tormented Fathers had you playing as not-Clarice Starling, Broken Porcelain has you playing as not-Suzy Bannion, a meek but troublesome girl working at an inn. Spooky happenings occur as the hotel owners begin to become murderous, and soon enough, not-Suzy Bannion can’t trust anyone she sees.
If you haven’t played Tormented Fathers but like the look of Broken Porcelain, the game has an “ICYMI” video that provides the backdrop and context to the sequel. In short, just know that Tormented Fathers was a title that reached the heights of blisteringly okay. It wasn’t a horror title rewriting the rule book on what needs to be done for the genre, but there was enough going for it to generate interest and hype for the sequel.
Chris Darril has also stated that the Remothered property is intended to be a trilogy as well, which means there’s a giant overarching plot in this, and not just any plot. The thing about both current Remothered titles is that Darril not only wears his influences on his sleeves, he loudly proclaims the inspirations he’s about to wear. It’s a formula that you can spot beat-for-beat in Tormented Fathers, almost to a worryingly prophetic degree.
Bam! The Silence of The Lambs! Bam! Psycho! Bam! Deep Red! Bam! Halloween III! You get the point. While these influences were obvious if you paid enough attention, Tormented Fathers did succeed in feeling like its own idea, like its own property. It’s a benefit that carries on in Broken Porcelain, even if the opening of the game reeks of Suspiria and The Shining.
Even when Darril takes more directly from Western influences and runs with them, it’s the Giallo-inspired sections that work out great for them. In the context of Hannibal, an Argento-inspired piece works out wonderfully due to the juxtaposition and style of it all. Even though it’s not there visually, the one place Giallo films flourish in their aesthetic: you can taste it in the atmosphere.
It doesn’t ring in properly at first, since the game’s horror does seem to be entirely reliant on jumpscares. Even though the game’s atmosphere is ridiculously thick, the audio mixing is so bad that loud noises seem to permeate, no matter how well you tweak the audio options. Your ears will be bombarded with the sound of rushing winter wind, only for the game to scream violins and a scary face, expletive-filled and frothing with hatred.
Still, the threat would be a threat if the A.I. seemed to show consistency. Broken Porcelain …