The Lack of Care
Caretaker is a single player explorative horror adventure by solo development outfit Pulse Tense Games and Baris Tarimcioglu, the same lead dev behind 2016's De-Void. Here, you play as Joe Salinger. Investigative Journalist, who's looking for the next big story: Debunking the myth behind The Caretaker. A man who "went nuts and killed his co-workers who then committed suicide".
I've heard many bad things about Caretaker but it's explorative approach caught my eye and my feelings were quizzical about what I should expect. Until I was hit with a very off putting, cheap text screen introduction. I soon found myself concerned when freely running around the yard. Being solely immersed by the rain's detailing with my headphones on. The patchiness that covered through light and dark, winds swaying through the thick storm. I was even impressed by the background 360 audio when using the headphones. Sound fading in and out away from cover and dry areas. This is where my handful of positives end for now. In a short. Here's the train wreck.
Stabbing first at the flaws with Joseph Still-lingering's disregard for breaking and entering and disturbance of unattended crime scenes. It's just a start of the flourish of poor choices and questionable actions. We'll tackle a painfully generic plot or what's little to be found of it, the cliche checklist and mandatory jump scare attempts. The grating 2 door sound effects that were simulating Geodude being shoved into a blender and awful volume control with MP3 insert audio triggers that completely took me out of any focus. It felt as if I had paid someone to complete YouTube to MP3 downloads.
Stealth was another point mentioned within the blurb. I feel cheated when I'm told there's stealth and that stealth is. Slowly walk behind and stay in the opposing corner of the villain to remain undetected.
There was a huge missed opportunity from the exploration. You're welcome to explore but most of what you wander into is empty space. It's highly detailed empty space from the PC port. It could have set the tone for optional jump scares. Inventory management to be implemented or even lurking danger; Caretaker stalking from afar or your imagination if you want to play a psychological aspect. Unfortunately not. Our villain's first appearance isn't until some time into the game and with predictability, loses all subtlety the horror was trying to project.
Touching on one of the more enjoyable parts. Towards the end of Caretaker an accident befouled our poor Joe. Becoming deaf from a fall...a 5 meter fall where you land on your feet and wake up elsewhere? Sure. We'll just say "horror" and let that slide.
We play the final 10-20 minutes in complete silence. This actually reeled me back in, headphones still on, all I can hear is my own heartbeat. Knowing that Caretaker could be somewhere and more chance for us to bump into him. The fear of turning around to find him clubbing you around the back of the head. I could actually get in tune with the game now that the sound of those cursed doors had stopped. Sadly. This sequence was short lived and our finale left us with an awful cinematic that would have left more suspense to the title if they simply didn't add it.
So How Does It Play?
Admittedly, it's perfectly functional. Walk/Run. Toggle flashlight and pick up/manipulate objects. No bugs encountered but with so little in a game. Could they really manage to mess that up too? The environmental modelling was again, impressive but as soon as you take your first steps. It goes downhill from there.
- The Pandora's Box of horrors if you shall. What on the outside looked enticing was just an utter mess. But unlike the box. Hope was not to be found inside.
- A very quick completion that can be finished working 30 minutes and TA Ratio of a solid 1
- Arguably unfair £6.69 pricing. If you're going for Gamescore. Shove it on the Wishlist and wait for a Sale. Around £5 I'd say is fair for any game with under 1 hours completion.
- Chunkzilla 8.66GB Download