The Spirit Underneath Steam Pile Review
Nothing Looks Right, Nothing Feels Right
What’s your favorite kind of garbage horror game? I’m partial to “walk in a straight line and jump scares happen,” myself, but I can definitely see the merit in the “craft a bunch of stuff and try not to die” variety. The Spirit Underneath isn’t really either of those things, though. Instead, it’s more of a “wander around and bump into enemies, then listen to an oh-so-spooky noise.” That’s actually there is to it. Make no mistake, though – it’s still a garbage horror game, complete with a laughable runtime and a non-existent plot.
Oh, sure, I think there’s supposed to be a story. Maybe? In the thirty minutes this game takes to beat, and that’s being generous, players take control of a nameless man who keeps finding allegedly creepy notes scattered around a red-skied hellscape. As this totally interesting protagonist travels deeper into a blood-spattered crypt, we learn that he might actually be a bad person that did a bad thing. Oh no!
In other words, you ever play Silent Hill 2? Yeah, it’s basically that, but shitty.
Speaking of Silent Hill, the harmless enemies in this game are a hair’s breadth away from being deliberate fucking rip-offs. The most egregious offender is a giant rabbit mascot that’s nearly just Robbie the Rabbit from Silent Hill 3, minus the overalls. Granted, that’s the most original thing this game has going for it in that department. The only other enemy is a regular woman whose color palette has been darkened so her entire body is black, and much like Bobby the Babbit (as I like to call him,) she can’t actually hurt you.
Nothing in this game can, in fact. I actually beat the game by bumping through enemies as I sprinted to the next key to unlock the next door. How scary!
And yes, that is actually all you do in this game. You find a locked door, spend a minute or two looking for a key, find the key, and unlock the door. That’s it, and you do that for about 20-30 minutes until you’re inexplicably thrown into outer space and given a splash screen with some goofy, garish text teasing a sequel. Or maybe a second part to be patched into the game! If you look at The Spirit Underneath’s official news feed, the developer doesn’t actually know what they’re doing. Y’know. As if this game itself wasn’t a surefire indicator of that.
Everything about The Spirit Underneath screams low effort. There are public domain FPS Creator assets that I actually used in high school, borderline copyright infringing material, and no real gameplay to speak of. In other words, it’s yet another horror game on Steam that thinks “scary” really just means “loud noises and dark colors.” The type of low-effort dreck that’s the exact problem with modern horror games, especially when trash like Layers of Fear comes out and people lose their mind over what is, essentially, a glorified walking simulator with ghosts.
But at least games like that have a modicum of originality to them. A modicum. The Spirit Underneath has nothing even close to originality, instead content to reuse assets for thirty minutes, call it day, and ask customers to spend five bucks on what amounts to a middle schooler fucking around with entry-level map building tools. In fact, the executable file for this game is literally just that map builder – it doesn’t even try to hide it.
For Early Access, this would be bad enough. But to posit The Spirit Underneath as a finished product worthy of five bucks is hilarious and kind of sad. Instead of spending your money on that, take your fiver, head over to Taco Bell, and get one of those Big Boxes. A car trip to your local fast food joint and five bucks on something to clog your arteries is, honestly, a better use of your money than this.
[A copy of the game was purchased by the reviewer for the purpose of this review.]